Recycling is extremely important. Not only does recycling help the planet, but it can even earn you some money in the process, as well. It is fairly well known that when kids learn a habit early on in life, they are more likely to continue that habit throughout their lives. Teaching your kids about recycling early on, then, can encourage environmental responsibility for life. But how do you go about teaching your child about which rubbish is which? Incorporating games and activities that teach them about recycling is a fun and easy way to teach your children how to protect the environment through recycling; a few ideas are below.
Read a Book
It seems rather simple, but books can help teach your children the
“why” behind recycling. When the characters in a book learn why
recycling is a good idea, your child learns, as well. Finding books that
include characters with whom your child will relate is key to
encouraging them to learn from their behaviour.
Go to the Zoo or Museum
Most kids love animals, and since recycling can actually help protect
animals, taking your kids to the zoo or an animal or natural history
museum can help them see these beautiful creatures. Explain that animals
can get sick if rubbish isn’t disposed of correctly, and ask them to
explain what they learned. Asking a child to repeat back what they’ve
learned helps them cement it in their minds, and it also helps you
ensure they’ve got the right message.
Colour-coded trash cans, like the kind you can find at ImRubbish,
can help you set up a game where certain items of rubbish must be
sorted into the correct container. For instance, you can set a pile of
different types of rubbish on the ground in front of three cans. Have
one can colour be for paper recycling, one for cans and bottles, one for
general rubbish, and so on. Have your child sort the rubbish properly
against the clock, and reward them for what they accomplish correctly.
A word search is a relaxed but effective way of teaching children
about recycling, as well. Several sites have such activities available
to be printed straight off the computer, and you and your child can
search for the words together. Casually ask your child to explain to you
the different things he or she has learned about recycling as certain
words come up. Alternatively, you can ask your child for definitions of
the words that are to be found. This rhetoric helps to ingrain the
principles and verbiage associated with recycling in your child’s mind
so they learn it at a deeper level than if they just read it once in a
Taking a field trip to the local recycling centre is another great
way to involve your child in recycling, and teach them about recycling,
as well. Most kids are really interested in how things work, and they’ll
think it’s really great to have an opportunity to tour the recycling
centre. However, they walk away with a hands-on learning experience and a
deeper understanding of what can be recycled, why recycling is
important, and what types of things can be made from recycled material.
Save Rubbish to Save Money
There’s nothing like some monetary incentive to encourage your child
to participate in the family recycling efforts. Since most recycling
centres will pay you for your recyclable rubbish, pick up a few coloured
bins that are just for your children and tell them to sort the rubbish
they create into the appropriate bins. Whatever they collect they get to
keep the money from, but only if they come with you to deposit the
recyclables. Not only do they learn about recycling, but they’ll learn
about hard work and earning money, as well.
great way to involve your family, and even your entire community, in
recycling is to join or create a recycling drive. Gather your family and
get the community involved, and see how much recyclable rubbish your
community can gather. You can add some fun elements to this activity, as
well, like using the funds to pay for an auction item that can be
raffled, or simply spreading the wealth among the members.
Letting your kids experience recycling is the best way for them to
learn about why things should be recycled, how they’re recycled, and how
it helps the environment. Show them the types of things that can be
recycled, and how it can turn into a brand new item. Reward them with
positive reinforcement when they demonstrate that they have learned what
you have taught them. And remember, you have to set a good example for
your children to follow, so be sure to keep up with your own recyclable
rubbish, as well.
Tim Brown is a primary school teacher with a passion for the
environment. He enjoys blogging about ways to engage children in caring
for the earth in a responsible way.