Zero Waste Classroom

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Kathy Fogg Kathy Fogg
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Zero Waste Classroom

I am a second grade teacher and I would like to know if there are any tips about having a green classroom?  I would like to convert my classroom next year to have the least waste possible.  Each week I am disturbed by the amount of paper and pencils my classroom of 20 students consumes.  Do you have any suggestions or resources on this topic?
Karin Karin
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Re: Zero Waste Classroom

DD's elementary school has received smart boards and netbooks (part of a grant) along with teacher training (other part of the grant). Combined with the massive cut in spending and reducing copies to bare minimum service contracts, changes are happening.

I teach art in the classroom and the art program has been evolving over the five years I've been volunteering. Supplies are being used much more judiciously. Us volunteers are trained to use minimal supplies with the students and encourage them to believe "there are no mistakes in art".

Kids are so resilient and awesome sponges! They learn way faster than adults. You have a golden opportunity with second graders.
Scott Scott
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Re: Zero Waste Classroom

In reply to this post by Kathy Fogg
Hi Kathy,

Our school district (Mt. Tamalpais) uses the Green Schools Alliance. Here is a toolkit that they provide: http://www.greenschoolsalliance.org/greentoolkit.html

Also, I also found this curricula for students from the Green Schools Initiative: http://www.greenschools.net/links.php 

Good luck - Scott
Audrey Audrey
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Re: Zero Waste Classroom

In reply to this post by Kathy Fogg
Hi, I'm also curious how to have a (at least CLOSE to) ZW classroom... I'm opening up a preschool for 2-4 year olds next year and with that age (as opposed to elementary school age) so much learning is tactile and creative and open ended.  I want them to have as many age appropriate resources and art supplies as we can afford to give them.

That being said, I do believe in quality over quantity, even for this young age.  I guess i'm thinking mostly about art projects... and paper... I can remember countless numbers of paper barely drawn or painted on and then tossed into the recycle bin at other preschools i've worked at. Yes, at least they recycled, but ... there's just got to be a better way.

Any ideas? I'm open to ideas outside the art area also.

In fact, the preschool is reggio emilia inspired, so I've already started collecting old, no longer used and out of date cameras, phones, REAL things to use in the classroom rather  than buying a repertoire of rainbow colored plastic toys (my pet peeve) !!!!! We'll look for as many reused toys and furniture, etc as possible rather than buying new.

thanks!
Wrennerd Wrennerd
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What about rock painting?

Audrey & Kathy --

This isn't exactly ZW, but it creates less clutter than most craft projects, so it might be preferable.

I don't have kids, but I do like to have a few toys/activities in the house for when my friends' kids are over. I recently decided to keep supplies on hand for rock painting, so that they could create rocks to add to my front garden. I'm not terribly keen on keeping lots of painted/coloring papers around the house, but I thought keeping their artwork outdoors out front on the pea gravel walkway would be a nice way to display their artwork without it becoming indoor clutter. It also is an activity that works for many ages, rather than being limited to a certain age. It's also colorful without requiring plastic. (Well, not as much, anyway.)

Requires: rocks, paintbrushes, acrylic paints (apply a white base coat before adding color).

I couldn't wait for the kids, so I started one myself! :)

Sandra Sandra
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Re: What about rock painting?

Wrennerd, what a beautiful and creative idea! This is one I will definitely have to try out. Thanks:)
Victoria Victoria
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Re: Zero Waste Classroom

In reply to this post by Kathy Fogg
I have really changed my ways in the classroom. At the end of the year I collect all the supplies, and I wash the pencil boxes to reuse. I collect crayons and have students separate them and then bind a group with a rubberband I reused from the newspaper. I use whiteboards frequently, but am disturbed by the pens. I would like to learn a way to reink them. I cut paper in half and use for spelling tests. We do homework on fronts and backs, collecting it every other day instead of each day. I have students bring their own bowls and spoons for ice cream parties. We rinse them, they take them home and put in the dishwasher. If they forget a bowl, they're served last. I reuse the ice cream tubs for crayons and pens. I no longer buy markers. We do have some, but when they are gone, they are gone. I reduce the number of parties. Not only is it a distraction, but the waste is awful. I hate the cupcake holders for birthdays. I do reuse them to hold paints, but encourage kids to not bring them by giving them group points. Instead I encourage homemade or strawberries or even apples. I keep an apple cutter in my room. We sometimes make homemade applesauce as a treat and I have them bring a mug. I also talk about reducing clutter in their lunch and will pick something for that day such as reusable container for cookie chips etc. and give group points for that. Reusable bottle another day. Sandwich in a tupperware. We recycle paper, and I teach what is recyclable and what isn't.
KarinSDCA KarinSDCA
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Re: Zero Waste Classroom

I love your post, Victoria!!!!
Roberta Roberta
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Re: Zero Waste Classroom

In reply to this post by Victoria
I found (last year?) colored white board crayons by Crayola.  In the traditional cardboard box.  They write well and erase well -- even after a long time.  My husband teaches high school, and for certain activities he has the students write answers on good oldfashioned chalkboards.  I do the same for homeschooling  -- great for practice work that does not need to be "graded" -- practicing copying things off the board, or shaping letters.

Save your crayon stumps, and remelt them into new crayons.  This can even be a class project if you use a solar oven to melt the old crayons in the molds, instead of melting and pouring.

Remaking used paper (beautiful colored memos) into scrap for mosaics, or the eternally popular paper chains.  It's reusing, not reducing, but it's better than nothing.

Use sheets from the thrift store instead of paper to cover bulletin boards.  Cut them to size, even finish the edges with rickrack for fun edging.

Make evaluating the trash part of the class' math/science.  Every day before school's out (last 10 minutes?) weigh the trash and graph it.  Measure how it goes down (or up on party days).  


And thanks for making the effort in the classroom.  With all the regular demands on teachers, I appreciate the extra work you're willing to do for this.
Roberta Roberta
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Re: Zero Waste Classroom

I just had another thought: if your class can do a temporary project (drawing on the cafeteria/classroom windows, or drawing with chalk on the playground, painting with acrylic paints on windows) then take pictures to email to their parents.  There is no paper to take home, the kids get a sense of permanency with the photo, and the parents get a quick peek at what their children are doing.
Sandra Sandra
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Re: Zero Waste Classroom

In reply to this post by Roberta
The Crayola dry erase crayons are great! I was just about the mention them when I saw your post. Glad to see that others like them as well. I prefer them over the markers; there's no smell and they smudge less.
Marie Marie
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Re: Zero Waste Classroom

In reply to this post by Victoria
I realize this is an old post but thought this could be useful.About refilling markers reuseit.com sells some. They are said to not have the strong smell of other white board markers and can be used on other surfaces (glass,porcelain). They are a little pricey (50 something for the markers and refill ink) but if they are going to be the last markers you ever buy they're worth it ( the markers are made out of aluminum). I have just ordered some but they have not arrived yet (am in Canada) so can't give you a personnal opinion.
Now if i could just find a way to refill those gluesticks?! (Son is in kindergarten so alot of crafting going on at School and parents need to provide supplies according to teachers requests)
marihelenv marihelenv
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Re: Zero Waste Classroom

In reply to this post by Kathy Fogg
I'm just starting my zero waste journey and happened on this old post looking for ideas. I didn't know about the refillable dry erase markers! For those in preschool- make your own "play dough" and filling sensory tables with real world seasonal objects from nature with scoops shovels and or funnels were great hits! ( examples- soil, sand, water, pine needles, leaves, hay for rodeo, rice, re-used shreded paper scraps which we also later used in the class mosaic for our school fundraiser!) You can also get a lot of good ideas from the Montessori method websites for reusable methods and activities.
Amanda Amanda
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Re: Zero Waste Classroom

In reply to this post by Kathy Fogg
Hi, I am not a teacher in a school, but I am a minister with kids and youth at our church.  Here are some of my ideas.

Sand Art -- Find ceramic plates or wood/aluminum trays that you can keep in the classroom.  Have a stock of sand in a large jar.  Each child gets a plate or tray with some sand poured on top to practice letters in, or draw pictures in.  When they are done with the activity (both tactile and reusable!) they simply pour the sand back in the jar!  

I second the chalkboard idea -- small individual ones are a great way to practice letters or even write answers for quizzes on that are graded right there in class.

You can go outside and "paint" with water and reusable paintbrushes on the concrete.  Dries quick, but very fun and allows them to practice or play games again :)  How cool to solve or practice multiplication tables on the concrete!  Built in time limit too -- before the sun dries it!

Try to combine announcements/schedules on one page.  For instance, make a master list of special days at the beginning of the year.  Each family gets one page that they can refer back to throughout the semester/school year.

Encourage older students to email assignments if possible.  

Reuse supplies from one year to the next...get supplies second hand from thrift stores/goodwill.

Check with the janitors when summer is starting.  They throw out tons of perfectly good supplies because the kids left them in their lockers and won't be back next year.  Jackets can be donated, supplies can stock classrooms, ect.