Activities to teach children about the importance of sustainability

Children linking arms behind three recycling bins

Creative ideas and eco-friendly activities for teaching children about sustainability and caring for the environment

Our home, the earth, is the only planet we have, so we should take good care of it. It’s our duty to motivate the next generation about sustainability and the importance of practising eco-consciousness by developing a sustainable lifestyle. Children must be gradually educated about climate change, pollution, deforestation and other environmental issues that will affect the future of the planet they live on. An environmentally literate child grows up to be a responsible steward who contributes to finding beneficial solutions for our planet.

While it is critical to teach sustainability to young learners and toddlers, it is not always easy. We’ve rounded up six fun and creative activities to help children enjoy learning about sustainability. 

1. Making sustainability fun 

Taking responsibility for the environment doesn’t need to feel boring. With a splash of creativity, children can find interest and enjoyment in activities such as recycling. You can encourage children to decorate the bins with you by painting with their favourite colours, adding stickers and designing the labels. 

This way, they can take pride in their participation. You can even motivate them by giving them a small token for their help. It can also be made extra fun with a tinge of friendly competition; the best set of bins gets a special prize. 

When it’s time to take the trash to the recycling centre, you can turn this into a group activity where you go together if you’re on a field trip. 

A young girl planting in the garden as she learns about the importance of sustainability

2. Build a special garden 

Growing a small garden with children is proven to positively affect their physical, emotional and social development. Getting more sunshine and exercise as they move around improves their overall mood, health and immunity. 

They learn responsibility and stewardship when they have a small garden to tend to. It also grows their love for nature and appreciation of the planet. This opens the door to better understanding sustainability, respect for the environment and desire to take care of Mother Earth. During harvesting season, you get the opportunity to show children how to incorporate the herbs or vegetables you’ve planted into their meals. 

You can also add arts and crafts into their gardening experience by letting them paint the pots, write the labels, name sections in the garden and more! The opportunities are endless. 

Father playing with his son riding in a recycled cardboard toy car

3. Use recycled materials for arts and crafts 

Art activities are a hit among children. It helps them express themselves, discover their creativity and use their imagination. Arts and crafts time is an ideal time to teach children about sustainability. You can start off by reusing old items as materials, such as paint brushes, old crayons, used coloured paper, scratch paper, old plastic bottles or cardboard. 

There are tons of fun possibilities waiting that won’t hurt Mother Earth. You can use old corks to make stamps. Build a car or a fort out of cardboard. Decorate an empty tissue roll to make a mini pencil holder. Use paper scraps to make a paper mache plant pot. Reusing old materials can help children learn about sustainability and the importance of recycling. 

4. Donate pre-loved toys and clothes 

Teaching children to donate clothes they’ve outgrown and toys that they no longer play with not only teaches the value of caring for others and sharing blessings but also shares a lesson on sustainability. When you give away clothes and toys that no longer see the light, you help the environment by decreasing the number of old items sitting in landfills. You contribute to the circular economy, where waste is reduced and products are recirculated and used to their maximum potential. 

Three young girls sitting on the grass

5. Watch educational shows about sustainability 

Families can dedicate a movie night or a weekend to watching an educational show or film about sustainability, climate change and the environment. There are plenty of interesting programs, movies, documentaries and short videos on Disney, Netflix or YouTube. Turn the screening session into a fun watch party by preparing delicious and healthy snacks that children can munch on. You can also have a brainstorming session or hold a quiz afterwards to encourage active participation. 

6. Create a nature scrapbook or journal 

Collect mementos from children’s nature-related activities—take photos, gather leaves or petals off the ground and keep children’s drawings and scribbles. You can give them prompts on what to draw or write—list observations, draw flowers or trees they’ve seen, record the weather, etc. You can even take them out to parks, nature reserves, rivers, the woods or even your backyard garden for more inspiration and connection to the natural world. 

Be sure to document the sustainability activities you engage children in with a teacher app, like Playground, to add them to learning stories and encourage parents to work with their children on emphasising the importance of being eco-friendly.

Sources: Nature’s Path, Terra Movement 


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Patricia Podolig Donaldson

Marketing Content Specialist

Marketing and communications professional with over eight years of experience, writing about Xplor Childcare & Education’s comprehensive suite of products since 2021.