Innovative ideas for kids at school: Recycling

Jennifer Watts

Jennifer Watts is a freelance writer with a passion for travel, baking, and all things cats. When she's not writing, she can be found exploring fascinating and exotic destinations with her husband and young daughter.

What started with writing about activities for kids quickly expanded into frequent writing about experiential learning and learning through play. The work she has done for Persil reflects just one of the ways she is hoping to spread joy and information for kids.

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Image credit: pixabay // Unsplash Image credit: pixabay // Unsplash

More and more schools across the country are striving to encourage innovation and creativity in the classroom – rethinking how they structure their classrooms, how they teach, and how they engage children in educational activities. Innovation and experimentation is thought to be one of the key factors in determining how kids develop and learn, encouraging creativity, logical thinking, teamwork, and laying down the groundwork for understanding the world from both an arts and science perspective. So just how can innovation make such a big impact, and how can schools plan activities to ensure kids are able to effectively hone their ability to innovate while also learning and having fun?

"Recycling doesn’t need to stop with deposits; it can be as innovative as the imagination allows, and we’re even starting to see some massive global corporations getting in on the action."

As we all know, there is a very strong relationship between innovation and science. Popular innovative activities in schools often involve coming up with new ideas, or inventing new devices relating to the sciences – it’s about kids becoming inventors in the classroom. A question we should be asking ourselves, however, is how can innovation impact other areas of education away from the science classroom? By introducing and encouraging innovation across the board, we could begin to see students developing within other areas. So what are some good all-round innovative ideas? How about activities for kids relating to recycling?

Recycling is (rightly) a strong focus in many schools, with a definite importance placed upon the reuse of plastics, glass, metals, and papers, for example. Many schools opt to use recycled writing paper, and often place recycling bins around the premises to encourage recycling in the school as well as in the home. However, recycling doesn’t need to stop with deposits. It can be as innovative as the imagination allows, and we’re even starting to see some massive global corporations getting in on the action. Whether you’re looking for ideas for young children or for teens, there are lots of recycling activities for kids to be found online – but here are some great (and unusual) suggestions to get the ball rolling:

  • For younger kids, try to keep things basic. The trouble with recycling is that once we make a deposit, our involvement ends and we don’t get to see the process through to the end – this can greatly hamper a child’s understanding of the concept of the matter. So be innovative! Challenge the kids to transform something simple, like an old plastic water bottle, from rubbish into something more valuable, so that they can see how recycling works. The sky’s the limit here, and it’s a great activity for getting those creative juices flowing. 

  • For older children, why not look into the major challenges in the recycling world today, and explore innovative ways to tackle these issues? A major challenge today is e-waste, for example. With many households owning multiple devices and upgrading frequently, recycling old units is something that should be made a priority. You could challenge kids to come up with ways society as a whole could work to tackle technology waste, not only asking them to think about how to recycle a more complex item, but also the wider practical issues.

  • Although recycling often focuses upon plastic bottles and metal tins, we can recycle many more types of material – including fabric. Why not encourage students to come up with a range of innovative recycling ideas, taking cues from some big name brands that have also tried to hone their inventive skills. Back in 2012, for example, Levis – the jeans company – came up with the Go WaterLess challenge, encouraging people to ‘recycle’ their clothes and wear them for an entire week without washing, helping to emphasise the importance of water conservation.

Introducing innovative activities for kids in school – and as after school activities, too – opens up many doors towards different ways of thinking, and different ways of learning. Innovation is all about coming up with new concepts, of unique ways of delivering ideas, and of seeing changes put into action – all of which can influence a child’s approach to life. From becoming more creative to developing important social skills, innovation continues to be key, recycling included.

How do you teach recycling in your school? Let us know in the comments.

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