Teaching about sustainability for the first time or looking for new ideas? Explore tips and activity ideas from our teacher team!
What Is Sustainability?Sustainability is the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It is a holistic approach to addressing environmental, social, and economic challenges in a way that supports long-term well-being and resilience. This often includes practices such as reducing carbon emissions, conserving natural resources, and promoting social equity.
How Do You Teach Sustainability in the Classroom?Elementary school is an important time to begin talking to students about sustainability as we can instill these practices early and make them into lifelong habits. Here are a few tips from our teacher team to get started:
- Incorporate sustainability throughout the curriculum: Sustainability integration into science may seem obvious, but what about ELA, math, or social students? Bring sustainable practices into your lesson plans wherever you can. In social studies, for example, students can study how different cultures and societies have addressed sustainability issues. In math class, students can learn how to analyze data and measure progress toward sustainability goals.
- Use project-based learning: Projects are an effective way to engage our students in sustainability issues and help them develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. For example, challenge your class to design and implement a recycling program at their school or research and propose solutions to a local sustainability issue.
- Use outdoor and field-based learning: Field trips and outdoor activities can provide hands-on learning experiences that help students understand sustainability concepts in a real-world context. For example, book a trip to local farm for students to learn about sustainable agriculture or a nature reserve to learn about conservation efforts.
- Promote sustainable practices in the classroom and school: Encourage students and your fellow school staff members to adopt sustainable practices such as recycling, conserving energy, and using sustainable transportation. This can also be incorporated into the curriculum.
- Partner with local organizations and experts: Connecting with local organizations and experts can provide valuable resources and learning opportunities for students. For example, students can work with a local conservation group to learn about local ecosystems or work with a local renewable energy company to learn about sustainable energy solutions.
- Encourage critical thinking, creativity, and communication: Encourage students to think critically about sustainability issues, be creative in developing solutions, and communicate their ideas effectively.
What Are Examples of Sustainable Activities?Using real-world examples can help your elementary students better understand what it is they can do to lead more sustainable lives at school and outside of the classroom! Some examples of sustainable activities everyday individuals can do include:
- Practicing energy efficiency: You're never to young to be more sustainable by turning off lights when you leave the room
- Recycle paper and other items in the classroom: Encourage your students to reuse what they can and make use of the recycling bin rather than the trash can.
- Compost food waste: Kids can do this in the cafeteria and at home.
- Engage in sustainable transportation: Kids can learn about the benefits of walking, biking, or taking public transportation instead of driving a car. They can also participate in walk-to-school events or bike-to-school programs.
- Compost food waste: Whether it's setting up a compost bin in the classroom for the school garden or encouraging students to save food scraps from lunch to take home, composting is something simple for students to do.
- Grow a garden: Kids can learn about the importance of plants and how to care for them. They can also start a school or community garden to grow their own fruits and vegetables.