Wondering how to get your EcoKids Club started? Check out our interactive guide by clicking on different areas of the school below for simple ways you can help your whole school get excited about taking action.
Spread the Word!
Create posters inviting people to participate in the environmental activities being coordinated by your club. Consider taking over a school display case to create engaging and artistic ways to share your message. Try to use repurposed and recycled materials to make your displays or signs.
Regular EcoKids Club Meetings
The library is a great place to have meetings. As a club, determine which day and time the group will regularly meet. During each meeting, create a list of agenda items that will be discussed. Agenda items should include a follow up on tasks assigned at the previous meeting, any new campaigns, local environmental issues that can be addressed within the school community.
Library staff can support environmental initiatives by helping with “Monitors Off” campaigns and by encouraging double-sided printing and photocopying.
Before and after school is a great time to engage parents and educate them about the effects of idling. Consider starting an anti-idling campaign at your school!
There are many options to choose from when commuting to and from school. Consider ways the school community can clean their commute every day. Taking the bus, carpooling, and various forms of active transportation are environmentally friendly ways to get to school.
Active Transportation to School
What is active transportation? Active transportation is using active forms of transportation to get around instead of a car or a bus. Some forms of active transportation include: walking, biking, skateboarding, riding a scooter, canoeing, skipping, rollerblading, and even jogging.
Active transportation campaigns are a great way to get the school community involved in environmental efforts. Different campaigns can include some of the following. Here are some ideas to help you get your club and school involved with healthier transportation options!
You could challenge members of the school community to walk to school every Wednesday. To do this you could organize students into groups to walk together, or send home information to encourage parents to get involved. Students can track how many Wednesdays they walked to school and the student with the most “walks” could win a prize or award like the Golden Shoe (an old running shoe spray painted gold!)
Walking School Bus
This is a walking car-pool that involves adults leading the way on foot picking students up the way a bus normally would! This encourages students to walk together to school and also give older students an opportunity to walk younger students to school, nurturing mentorship and leadership. This can be made part of an on-going campaign that goes on year-long, even start a walking club so that students can always find someone to walk with each and every morning.
Active Transportation Blitz
One-week or one month blitz. As a school inform students through posters or an assembly about the term “Carbon Footprint” and how big a carbon footprint each person on the planet takes up. Challenge students to reduce their carbon footprint as much as possible! Using a temperature graph (thermometer) you can show comparisons of the school’s transportation carbon footprint before and after the blitz.
Does your school support cycling to school? How about holding a Bike Rodeo or holding a bike clinic to teach parents, teachers and students safe cycling. Tailor your support to the unique qualities of your school and how your improvements will positively affect all students.
Note: Some students may not be able to get to school with active transportation due to any number of reasons; include these students by encouraging them to participate in sustainable transportation like riding the bus and carpooling!
Reducing Single-use Water Bottles
Reusable Water Bottle Campaign
Getting students to bring their own reusable water bottles to school is a great way to teach students about the environment. Plastic water bottles often end up in landfills or littered about neighbourhood streets! This kind of waste can hurt birds, turtles and other wildlife (including humans!).
Did you know it takes more energy to produce, fill, ship and recycle plastic water bottles than it does to bring public drinking water to your tap? Transportation burns fossil fuels (like coal and oil) and releases CO2 into the air, which contributes to climate change. Starting the conversation about climate change around reusing and recycling is a great way to get the school community involved and thinking about their actions and how they impact the environment.
Water Bottle Campaign and Challenge
Your club can develop an awareness campaign through posters and announcements, the club can fundraise for the club by selling reusable water bottles to the school community. Create a school wide challenge to see if classrooms can reduce the amount of plastic bottles in the trash or recycling bin. Celebrating students who make the greatest effort to go green is a great way to get the whole school involved. To show some school spirit, you could see if your school can brand some reusable water bottles to sell at school events or to give away as prizes for other environmental club campaigns.
Water Bottle Arts and Crafts
Students don’t need to buy a reusable water bottle; they can reuse a glass bottle or jar and use them as reusable water bottles too! To encourage this, try having an arts and crafts contest to decorate these up-cycled water bottles.
Support from Office Staff
Morning announcements are a great way to share environmental information, trivia and campaign information with the school community. Invite other students and staff to participate in the club’s efforts and activities.
Administration staff can support green initiatives by helping with paperless attendance, electronic school newsletters, promoting activities on the school website and monitoring the battery recycling drop box.
Principals and vice-principals play an important role in a school’s environmental efforts. School administrators can support the environmental club by attending meetings, creating incentives through rewards programs within the school. Administrators can become environmental champions by creating awards and trophies for participation. One innovative principal even rewarded her students with extra recess time!
Administrators can support teachers by including environmental updates on staff meeting agendas and by providing staff with professional development days to receive training about how to effectively bring the environment into the classroom and broader school community.
Garden projects are a great way to engage students and they’re a lot of fun! Before you start, be sure to obtain your administrator’s approval and go through your school board’s planning process for outdoor greening projects. Encourage student participation in all aspects of the planning, development, fundraising, implementation and maintenance.
Take some time to do a little research to ensure that you select an appropriate site for the type of garden you want to plant. Consider using native and drought-resistant plants when possible, as they will likely require the least amount of maintenance.
Many schools also choose to have more thematically-designed gardens such as pollinator gardens, vegetable gardens, wildflower gardens, herb gardens, etc.
After you plant, it is important to develop a maintenance plan that includes summer months and march break.
Outdoor Play and Learning with Loose Parts
Take your students outside to encourage interactive, rich and meaningful learning experiences. Invite students to explore the natural features of their schoolyard (and beyond!) through free, self-directed play.
Providing a simple set of loose parts and setting aside time for play can encourage creativity, foster collaboration and promote inclusivity.
Celebrate at Assemblies!
School assemblies are an awesome way to promote environmental campaigns and celebrate individuals or classes that are doing a great job! If your school gathers on a monthly basis, consider incorporating different environmental themes each month. Use this time to recognize exceptional staff and students that are helping to make your school a greener place!
For special events, you might consider inviting guest speakers with expert knowledge to inspire students and get them thinking about new ideas. Many community-based environmental organizations will often donate their time and knowledge to support student learning. Ask around within your school community, you may be surprised at who might be keen to help!
In the Classroom
Bringing environmental themes into instructional time can have lasting and positive effects. Environmental lessons are a great way to introduce inquiry and critical thinking, as well as spark ideas for new green projects. Ecokids has several free learning activities that can easily be incorporated into every grade and curriculum strand.
Students can support green initiatives in the classroom by ensuring that lights, computers and interactive whiteboards are turned off when not in use. Waste free lunch programs can be promoted and monitored within the classroom as a way to reduce overall school waste and support healthy lunch choices.
In the Staff Room
Let all school staff know about your club’s efforts and encourage colleagues to use their expertise and talent to support your club initiatives. Share your challenges and successes to encourage collaboration among staff.
Green your staff room by using reusable dishes and mugs for lunches, events and meetings. Encourage staff to lug-a-mug when possible and make pitchers of water available instead of bottled water.
A great way for students to learn about the 3 R’s is to complete a waste audit and then work towards reducing waste produced within the school. The club could educate the school community about waste reduction and how to effectively recycle through posters, announcements or event contests! Some exceptional schools have created unique engagement programs, such as awarding the class that produces the least waste with a golden trash can!
Reach out to your custodian, caretaker or lead hand for support with your environmental initiatives. These members of your school community can offer valuable insight and advice regarding your proposed projects, especially when they relate to water, energy, waste and school ground greening.
Getting your EcoKids Club Started
To get started you will need to recruit staff and student members for your club! Prepare posters and announcements inviting interested students to attend an introductory meeting.
Once the club has been formed, as a group you can decide on roles, regular meeting times and dates, and a vision for your school. Consider having a representative for each grade or inviting members of other clubs and teams in the school to facilitate collaboration.
Be sure to have someone to take notes at every meeting to keep track of what was discussed, what decisions were made, and what tasks were assigned.
Consider holding staff meetings outdoors and encouraging teachers to take their classes outside for at least one class per day. Set up a schedule for your outdoor classroom so staff will be reminded to book it out during instructional time.
Don’t have an outdoor classroom at your school? Get creative! Take your class outside to sit on the grass, use mats in a circle or consider purchasing a class set of lawn chairs.