Easy Ways Kids Can Learn to Recycle

Maintain a healthy environment for kids to learn and grow with these helpful tips. Parents, teachers and kids can work together to create green spaces at home or in the classroom. 

Tips for creating healthy environments for child play spaces

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Not everyone can get excited about garbage!

But it's an everyday hot topic around our house. We're always on the lookout for safe and economical ways to dispose of packaging, food waste, clothing, and other everyday items. No one wants overflowing garbage cans, unnecessary waste, and mounds of "stuff" to go through just to function on a daily basis.

The discussion around garbage is not limited to households. It is a concern for schools and businesses as well these days.

Being aware of waste is a global responsibility, and one we can share with our kids at an early age. Kids will learn to model our practices and attitudes. Drawing attention to how products are used and disposed of is an important lesson for all.

As parents and early childhood teachers, we have the best outcomes in mind for our kids when it comes to an early learning environment.

Sorting waste appropriately is part of the overall vision for a healthy learning space.

  • Are you tossing items into a green bin or garbage can? Are you reducing, reusing and recycling? 

Greening your child care space is an opportunity to engage kids in environmentally friendly practices that can also save you money.

Green space child care center

What is a green environment?

'Green' is a buzzword, and one we use a lot these days. It's all about respecting our environment by finding ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Kids often hear about environmental issues around Earth Day.  Hands-on activities are included in preschool and kindergarten programs to create awareness of harmful practices such as pollution, as well as healing practices such as recycling and reusing.

Related: Earth Day Activity with a Globe

The greening practices in this post are easy to implement and most include kids help to set up and maintain. Involving kids in the planning and delivery of a green play space will help create a more meaningful learning environment.

Support a green child care center with these helpful tips.

7 tips for creating a green child care center

Maintaining a healthy environment is an important part of early education.

We can implement valuable routines that both kids and grownups practice.

 

Recycling with kids

 

1. Use separate containers for garbage and recyclables, as well as bins for food compost.

a) Colorful labels will help children identify the contents for proper sorting.

b) Engage kids in cleaning up after a snack or meal to practice proper disposal of items.

2. Reduce your use of paper products.


a) Consider using individual, personally labelled, hand towels to replace disposable paper towels.

b) Keep absorbent washable cloths on hand to clean up spills.

3. Provide adequate energy-saving lighting.


a) New efficient light bulbs consume less energy and keep costs down.

b) Remember to turn lights off when leaving a room.

4. Upcycle used clothing for cleaning and paint protectors.


a) Slip your hand into a sock to use as a duster.

b) Cut up t-shirts to make rags to use as cleaning cloths.

c) Upcycle worn or discarded t-shirts as protective cover-ups for painting projects.


Related: Tips for Painting with Preschoolers


5. Repurpose household items for craft activities. 

a) Dispense paint and glue from bulk containers into jar lids or yogurt cups for individual use.

b) Save clean flat cardboard from packaging to use as paint canvases.

c) Glue craft eyes and yarn hair to mittens to make homemade puppets.

d) Decorate cardboard tubes with markers to use as telescopes.

e) Reuse broken crayons for craft projects.

6. Look to your community for reusable freebies. 

a) Collect lightly used toys and books from parents, friends and garage sales.

b) Promote toy and book exchanges with other child care centers.

c) Request paper scraps from a printing company, or wallpaper samples from a paint store.

7. Reduce water temperature.

a) Lower the maximum hot water temperature on your tap. It's safer for the kids, and saves you money. 

  • While this is often be required in classrooms and licensed child care centers, it can be beneficial at home as well. 

8. Teach everyone about garbage.

Include a unit on recycling in your lesson plans. Teach kids and grownups how to sort garbage, compost food items, and recycle lightly used clothing.

 

Do these tips get you excited about garbage? I hope so.

And I hope you have fun implementing your own greening practices with your eager early learners.

Promoting green practices in your child care center is is good for the environment and saves you money!

 

how to recycle in preschool classroom

 

More ways to recycle

things you can reuse to keep out of the garbage

 

Earth Day on Pinterest

 

Promoting green practices in your child care center is is good for the environment and saves you money!

Promoting green practices in your child care centre is valuable to the environment and as an added bonus can save you money! Please share Greening ideas of your own in the comments below, or on the contact page.


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