Recycling with preschoolers

It is so important that we teach our children to take care of their environment, whether they are at home or at preschool. It is an essential skill to teach children – and also provides wonder opportunities to discuss how certain materials are made and how they can be re-used.

Teaching our children about recycling is also very important as they prepare for school. If your child is not going to an Enviroschool when they leave daycare, they will almost certainly be going to a school striving to be one. Enviroschools is an environmental action based programme where young people are empowered to design and lead sustainability projects in their schools, neighbourhoods and country. So no age is too young to start learning and talking about recycling.

Here are 6 great recycling activities for preschoolers that we encourage you to try at home. At Play Learn Grow, Kelson, we really love teaching and showing our tamariki how they can help in looking after their environment.

1. Create a Recycling Centre

Using plastic recycling bins or cardboard boxes, create a recycling centre within your classroom. Get preschoolers involved in labelling, decorating and setting up the recycling bins in the room. As you label each box with plastic, paper, metal and cardboard, explain the types of items that might go in each one. Invite children to start sorting recyclables and continue to sort the items they use every day.

2. Recycled Crafts

There are plenty of ways to re-use recyclable materials like egg cartons, scrap paper, empty containers and lids, cardboard boxes and newspaper. Whether you show children how to make a specific craft, or challenge them to create art using only recycled materials, you can demonstrate how used materials can be re-used and transformed into something new.

3. Clean Up the Park

Visiting a local park and cleaning up litter is a fun recycling activity for preschoolers that not only teaches them about caring for the environment, but also about how they can help out in the community. Bring along recycling containers or clear trash bags to sort garbage and recyclables as preschoolers tidy the park.

4. Start a Compost Bin

Show preschoolers that food waste can be recycled too! Create a compost bin where children’s meal leftovers can be deposited. Make it part of your daily routine to empty scraps into the compost bin and periodically transfer its contents into an outdoor composter. Use this opportunity to teach children about the composting process and how food can be recycled into nutrient-rich soil.

5. Promote Recycling

Have preschoolers work on a poster (individually or as a class) that promotes the ideas of recycling, reducing waste and re-using items. Encourage the use of recycled materials in the creation of the poster, and display it proudly in your child care centre for all to see.

6. Recycling or Garbage?

Create flashcards featuring photos of recyclable materials and non-recyclable items. Show the flashcards one at a time to the class and have them work together to decide whether that item should go in the recycling bin or trash can. As children to explain why or why not each item can be recycled.

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