Promote recycling through schoolwide activities that encourage active participation. Not only will the children learn while doing the activities, recycling projects will also make the school a cleaner and greener environment. Make the projects more interesting by setting goals and encouraging healthy competition among classes. Recycling projects can be incorporated into Earth Day activities, or practised year-round.
Identify and create charts to categorise the various waste materials the school generates. Create bar graphs and flow charts to determine the destination of the trash. Examine the contents of the classroom waste-paper basket. Separate the contents into different types of material: paper, metal, plastics, organic material and glass. Record the results in a notebook, or on the chalkboard for the whole class to see. Continue this project with an interview with the maintenance personnel. Find out what happens to the classroom trash and where it goes from there. Divide the class into groups to investigate the trash generated in different areas of the school, such as the art room, music room, home economics, gymnasium, office and cafeteria. Compare results and graph the findings.
Reduce littering in the school and playground through a litter detective program. Pass out collection bags and a map of the school grounds. After discussing what littering means, divide the class into groups of three or four students. Send each group to a specific location in the school. Mark on their maps exactly what their boundaries are with coloured markers. Each team has fifteen minutes to gather any litter found in their section. Gather in the classroom and examine collected litter. Determine the most commonly found litter. Use detective skills to decipher who, what, when, why and how to stop littering. Who is littering? What is being left behind? When does this problem seem to occur? Why do people litter? Finally, how can the litter problem be solved? Implement a solution such as placing a dustbin in the area with the biggest litter problem, positive posters made by the class to discourage littering, or starting a litter patrol complete with official badges to monitor areas throughout the week. Repeat the exercise in a month to see if their solutions worked.
Make a classroom compost pile to show how natural materials can be recycled. After getting permission from the administration, find a location for the compost pile with the help of the maintenance department. Ask for donations of a few supplies to get started such as a garden fork, lumber, mesh screen and soil thermometer. Construct an enclosure, or ask a willing volunteer to create the walls to hold the compost. Add layers of dry material, grass clippings and organic material from lunch, except for milk and meat products. Study how the various materials are decomposed. Use the finished compost on a classroom garden or spread in the school's flower beds. Sift compost and bag to sell as a school fundraising project.
Create a list of items to be found in a scavenger hunt. Divide into teams, partners, small groups, classrooms or grade levels. Have students look for specific items such as gum wrappers or cans, or general items like an item from nature. After items are collected, gather the teams to discuss the various ways the different materials can be recycled.
Trash to Treasure
Invite students to bring throwaway items from home such as old CDs, milk jugs and boxes. Split students in groups. Instruct them to build something out of the items and then present it to the class. Leave the creation completely open-ended, or ask the student for something specific like a robot made of trash.