It is important to teach healthy habits from an early age. You make sure children learn to brush their teeth, clean their room and care for their toys. Those habits have immediate results. Teaching them to care for the Earth is a little more abstract. Turn recycling into a game and get them excited about proper environmental behavior.
It may seem overwhelming to introduce another lesson into your already busy parenting schedule. Teaching them to recycle not only sets them up with healthy long term habits, but also teaches them awareness of the world around them. It also gets your whole family involved in the domestic responsibilities. The sooner the kids learn to help with the recycling, the less you have to do.
Recycling games are great for kids of all ages. The younger kids can work with paper and plastic while older kids can also work with metals as well. Younger children may not understand all the logistics behind recycling and waste management, but they can learn how to categorize. Older students can learn more about why we recycle and what happens to the materials.
Games generally consist of counting or measuring the amount of recycling done by each child or each group of children. You can set up buckets or bins for all recycled items or individual categories. As kids throw their recycling in, you can measure how much they have contributed. You can also measure individual items. You may award winners of the most recycled items. Prizes to the winners may include globes, reusable water bottles or potted plants.
You may want to put a time limit on the length of the game. Unless of course you want to be rewarding recycling until your kids leave for college. You may want to establish a month or two for the game to last. For a quick lesson, you can make the game last just a day, encouraging kids to find recycling materials around the house or neighborhood. The winner will be crowned the grand recycling champion.
This game works just as well at home as in the classroom or daycare center–try any place that kids can be encouraged to recycle. It can also be taken on the road. Take your kids to a local park or beach where they can pick up trash and pull out recycling items. If your state reimburses bottles and cans, you can reward your recyclers by letting them keep the money dispensed for their finds.