Most of us understand, at least in an abstract sense, that safeguarding the ecological health of the planet for future generations is important. In order to make a lasting impact, children need to internalise this message from a young age. Beyond sending an environmental message, creating a green classroom is an opportunity to teach skills and, collectively, create a peaceful, engaging learning environment. Teachers will know that how you approach this task varies according to age group, were merely aim to offer helpful suggestions that you can adapt using your own expertise.
You might want to start by adding green mantras to the wall, where students promise to make small changes in their own lives, everything from going veggie one day per week to cutting back on disposable food and beverage containers. You can use the WWF website for calculating carbon footprints before you start (footprint.wwf.org.uk/), showing students where their own green areas of improvement might be. These can be blended with ecological data gathered by the class. It’s much easier to make changes if you can visualise the practical impact your actions are having. Also, if you have established any goals as a class, perhaps in terms of recycling or energy usage, make sure you keep track of these in a visible place, perhaps combing all these ideas in a “green wall” maintained by the class as a whole.
Adding plants to a classroom, which students are responsible for caring for (a schedule may be required here), is a great start, but does you school have room for a small garden? Many schools around the world have introduced this facility as a teaching space, even going as far as serving organic, home-grown veggies in the school cafeteria. In some areas the same activities are possible in community gardens. There are some great local supporting websites including Go Green Hong Kong (gogreenhongkong.com/), and online communities of educators and parents are full of ideas for green lessons, projects and classroom art (www.edutopia.org/environmentally-conscious-lesson-ideas). There’s also plenty of advice from teachers who have gone green around the world, like Stephen Ritz in the South Bronx (www.ted.com/talks/stephen_ritz_a_teacher_growing_green_in_the_south_bronx). The same is true of incentives like the Eden Project in the UK (www.edenproject.com/#A1OHb70F8W3H474k.97), which has a special section for school resources on its website.
Younger students (or their more creative older peers) my enjoy making art from recycled materials, and things like tin cans (when cleaned with their sharp edges filed down) make great desk tidies. In terms of energy usage, students may not be keen on cutting down on the air conditioning, but turning lights off doesn’t take much effort and it a habit they can take home with them. Your students might also have their own habits and suggestions, so give things are try with your very own Eden Project.
© 晉博教育中心 Brighten Youth Education Centre