This is our moment.
We cannot turn back time.
But we can grow trees,
Green our cities,
Re-wild our gardens,
Change our diets and clean up rivers and coasts.
We are the generation that can make peace with nature.
Let’s get active, not anxious. Let’s be bold, not timid
Our planet is incredible and we are responsible for passing it on to the next generation in as healthy a shape as possible. In this blog, there are some ideas to educate and inspire children to protect the environment for themselves and future generations. The earlier we normalise this to children the more likely they will grow up to be environmentally aware citizens.
Being conscious to model good environmental habits to children is something all adults can do. There are many small changes that can easily be put into daily practice:
- Recycle – activities where children sort different types of materials while explaining that sorting out different materials means there is less rubbish that will be never used again, move onto having recycling bins available
- Reuse and repurpose – hard plastic from lunchboxes can be washed and used in junk modelling, water or sand play or to grow seeds in. Kitchen roll cardboard can be repurposed in construction. Bring in old clothes for the dressing up box. Ask the children for repurposing ideas before throwing equipment or resources away
- Compost – have a food caddy alongside snack and meal times so children can put their food waste into it, explain how farmers can use this food waste to grow new food
- Collect litter – encourage the children to look after their community by picking up litter as an activity (always use litter pickers and gloves). Some local councils lend out litter picking resources such as litter pickers and high visibility jackets. Trash Hero Kids has activities and ideas to instil good habits.
- Foster a love of nature – Spend time in nature to foster an early appreciation. This appreciation can lead to respect and conservation behaviour later in life
- Don’t waste water – encourage children to turn taps off. See how you could safely reuse water in the garden
- Get parents involved – organise a book, toy or clothes swap to encourage reusing. Include sustainability ideas in your newsletter, share what you are doing and ask parents for their own ideas.
There are many organizations and events throughout the year to gather resources and ideas from:
For a small donation, Friends of the Earth will send you a children’s planet protector pack.
Earth day – this site has ideas to share with older children that can be adapted for early years and
World Environment Day has links to projects around the world.
A good role model to introduce to children is Greta Thunberg, the environmental activist from Sweden, who started to learn about climate change when she was eight. She then lobbied Swedish parliament for change and has now become a spokesperson for climate change. You can introduce her message through books such as Greta and the Giants.
These are just a few activities you could try in your setting to inspire children to help save the planet and be responsible adults. There are more issues you can explore, such as keeping the oceans clean or endangered species, see what you can find out and share with the children in your setting.
Always keep your messages with children simple and age and stage appropriate
Be positive about what we can do while not alarming children about environmental issues
Make all activities fun and hands on
Promote the idea that all small steps make a difference
- 50 Fantastic Ideas for Sustainability
- What A Waste: Rubbish, Recycling, and Protecting our Planet
- A Planet Full of Plastic: and how you can help
- Somebody Swallowed Stanley