I had a hard time figuring out a way to get my second-grade students involved with recycling or something with the 3Rs. So, I was just wondering if you had any suggestions on something better?
— N., Massachusetts
While all three of the Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) are important, I find that we really only concentrate on one: recycle. Reducing our use of resources, which in turn reduces energy consumption and waste, is the ideal first step.
For your young class I recommend starting with awareness. Identify and quantify the waste in your classroom. This integrates math, observation, measuring, and sorting skills. Introduce how to display and present their collected data. Students can research how the different items are produced and how they behave in the environment.
Once the students have a base line of their waste production, brainstorm ways to reduce the amount. This may include communicating the students’ ideas to parents. Ask the class if there is refuse that could be replaced with reusable items such forks, spoons, and water bottles. Identify the items still being discarded that can be recycled and research recycling options.
Continue quantifying how much waste your students produce and track results as they try different strategies to reduce it. Don’t forget to update the display!
Once your students become 3R practitioners, consider introducing them to advocacy. They can create posters, make presentations to other classes, set up an information booth with literature for the other students in the school.
Your 3R program has now become a complete cross-curricular project!
Hope this helps!
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