Creating a "green" classroom is just as important as creating more sustainable environments in your home and office. Classroom time is valuable, and from the moment a child arrives to the end of the day, they should be learning all about the world in which they live as well as how to protect it.
Here are a few activities teachers can facilitate in the classroom to educate students and themselves!
Connect the Dots
Instilling a sense of connectedness to nature and the environment -- be it a forest, field, or urban landscape -- is essential to helping students care about the world around them. To teach your students about global issues such as climate change and endangered species, look to local issues such as recycling, storm-water runoff, or air pollution. Making it personal and connecting it to your community makes it real.
Calculate Your Carbon Footprint
Carbon and environmental footprint calculators help us see how much impact we have on the world around us. If everyone in the world lived like we did, we'd need five planets worth of resources to sustain life as we need know it! Using online tools as fun games can really drive home the point of what kind of impact each of us has. Learn about your environmental footprint and check out some of our favorite carbon footprint calculators:
Then create a plan to reduce your group footprint!
Start a Zero-Waste-in-the-Classroom Policy
School-wide recycling is a brilliant move...but implementing can be tougher than teaching long division to an eight-year-old. If your school isn't recycling at-large, start a classroom-wide policy of "zero-waste." Set up recycling bins (teachers, students, and parents can volunteer to be responsible for removal), and audit how much waste is created in a day. Sorting trash (it doesn’t have to be gross) will help kids understand how much waste they are creating in a day, and where it's all coming from. Challenge kids to pack zero-waste lunches by using reusable bottles and containers. Competing with another classroom to see who can reduce their waste output most is a great way to create healthy competition and less waste.
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These are but the tip of the iceberg, when it comes to ways for school teachers to go green.
Grow a Garden, or Just Take a Nature Walk
Creating a garden or "backyard habitat" on school grounds is great for experiential learning. Growing food and native plants can really help kids connect with the world just outside their door, as well as the food chain and sustainable agriculture. If a garden is not happening, a walk around school grounds will help teach about natural wonders. Even in urban settings, trees, grasses, and wildlife abound. Get kids to pay attention the environment that is all around them.
Compost—Outdoors or In!
Getting back to zero-waste, starting a compost pile is a great way to make the connection between food, waste, and the nature at work! If an outdoor composter is out of the question, consider getting a worm bin for the classroom. It's not as crazy as it sounds!
Bring Nature Indoors
Whether you're in the city or the country, any classroom can bring plants into the mix. It's easy to build a self-watering plant container and get kids growing right in the classroom. You can also bring experts in the classroom, too. Field trips can get complicated and expensive; often nature centers, recycling facilities, and so on are willing to send volunteers or staff members to schools for in-house demonstrations. Added lesson: Explain that bringing one person too many means cutting down on carbon emissions due to transportation.
Did you know? According to the U.S. Department of Energy, American schools spend roughly $6 billion each year on energy – or approximately $110/student/year. For most school districts, energy use is the second biggest operating expense. The department estimates schools can save 25% of these high costs through better building design and energy efficiency improvements
For more information on greening your school, visit Oklahoma Green Schools