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Saving the Environment Lesson for Preschool

written by: Keren Perles • edited by: Tania Cowling • updated: 9/11/2012

To many preschoolers, saving the earth is an abstract idea that they cannot relate to. This preschool lesson plan about the environment teaches students one way that they can impact the world around them – through recycling and reusing materials.

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    Why Teach Preschoolers About the Environment?

    Teaching students about the environment is important, because the lessons that they learn about taking care of the earth at this young age will impact their attitude towards environmental issues later on. This preschool lesson plan about the environment will help students understand how a small-scale action, like recycling, can make a difference in the world. It will also give them the chance to discuss the importance of caring about the rest of the earth, and will give them the tools that they will need to recycle on their own.

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    Reading About the Environment

    To start this preschool lesson plan about the environment, read “Michael Recycle," by Ellie Bethel. Preschoolers love the illustrations and the fun, rhythmic language of this book, and it helps them understand how recycling can help the environment. Talk with them about Michael Recycle’s great idea, and ask them to discuss how it might have been if they lived in Abberdoo-Rimey before Michael came.

    Then read a nonfiction book about the environment, such as “Recycle, a Handbook for Kids," by Gail Gibbons. Discuss the different types of materials in the book and how recycling can help the environment. Tell students that today they will all be able to recycle some materials themselves.

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    Make a Litter Container

    Making a litter container is a fun craft activity about the environment, and one that you can make with nothing more than a recycled cardboard box (such as a cereal box), some glue, and some tissue paper. You can provide students with boxes, or ask parents to send one in with each of their children. Show children how to smear glue over the fronts of their boxes, possibly using a Popsicle stick as a tool. Then they can crush up small pieces of tissue paper and glue them to the fronts of their litter containers. Instruct children to leave their boxes out to dry overnight, making sure they dry thoroughly, and then use them on a clean up walk (see next activity).

    For more crafts having to do with the environment, see the article in this series about Earth Day crafts for preschoolers.

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    Clean Up Walk

    Bring children to the lunchroom, the playground, or another area that often has a lot of litter in it. Make sure that children bring their litter containers along with them. Encourage them to pick up any litter that they know is safe, using disposable plastic gloves, and to place the litter in their containers.

    Before doing this activity, you may want to make a list of rules for students about litter that they should not pick up, such as broken glass or metal, anything sharp, or any object that they don’t recognize. Encourage children to bring you to any object they are unsure about before picking it up.

    If no area is available for this activity, or if the weather makes this activity inappropriate, help them to gather up any empty containers or other materials leftover from their lunches, and put these in their litter containers.

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    Sorting Activities

    Set four large paper bags in one area of the classroom, and label them “paper," “plastic," “metal," and “trash." Have groups of students work to glue pieces of crumpled paper onto the first bag, some plastic lids or bottles onto the second bag, some metal cans onto the third bag, and pieces of a black garbage bag onto the fourth bag. Then let students sort the litter in their litter containers into each of the bags, using their disposable gloves. Make sure to do this activity near a sink, and encourage children to wash out items that have visible residue on them. Show them how many materials they have collected that can be recycled, and talk about why recycling these materials is important for the environment. Listen to their reasoning, as this discussion will allow you to assess whether they have understood the concepts of recycling and helping the environment sufficiently. This preschool lesson plan about the environment will teach children about the importance of recycling materials and working to keep the earth clean.

Teaching Preschoolers About the Environment

It is important to teach children from a young age about the importance of caring about the earth. This series contains various ideas about how to teach preschoolers about the environment.
  1. Saving the Environment Lesson for Preschool
  2. Preschool May Day Crafts for Kids