Top tips – how to make the most of your eco-classroom

Top tips – how to make the most of your eco-classroom

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So your eco-classroom is built – what now? Here are our top tips for how to make the best of your new environmentally (and educationally!) friendly offering.

Play ‘I spy’ every morning.

Having an eco-classroom provides the opportunity to blend both your outside and inside environments, so utilise this privilege by playing games for five to ten minutes every morning which combine both – ‘I spy’ as an example.

Randomly assign one pupil to pick an object they can see from the window and, once they’ve chosen, the rest of the pupils can try and guess what the object was. Alternately, you could play an adjectives game – ask ‘what words would you use to describe the weather outside today?’ Kids can take it in turns to go up to the board with pre-made descriptive flashcards, sticking up the ones that they think apply.

Little games, that’s all it takes – by bringing nature into the classroom, you’ll be coaching your students to pay greater attention to their exterior surroundings beyond the walls, helping them to think expansively and creatively.

Bring your earplugs…

Now you have your own classroom set away from the main body of the school, you can be really, brazenly, unapologetically loud.

Being loud – often considered a bit taboo in schools – can be welcomed in your eco-classroom (in healthy doses, of course), greatly allowing for a more uninhibited, hands-on and creative approach to learning. Your students can be more spontaneous and confident in learning music, practicing plays and engaging in group discussions without worrying about disturbing other classes: a freedom that should, further, contribute positively to their overall attitude to learning, as they approach subjects in an unrestrained and unique manner.

Use your eco-classroom to practice your annual Nativity play (or host any theatre club or drama lessons your school may have) to your heart’s content, and to encourage musical learning and contact with instruments. You could even start your own music club (if your school doesn’t already have one), where pupils can come and explore different instruments and musical interests in a totally organic, unsuppressed and loud fashion – the way that music should be explored, wouldn’t you agree?

Make it their own.

By giving your pupils partial ownership of the change brought to your school – the eco-classroom – your rapport with them can grow, leading to more impactful, creative and enriched teaching. More than this, involving the students with the moving and decorating process should help cement their new identities as activists of change (see below).

Allow your kids to make decorations for the room (nature-themed would be appropriate!) and bring in items that they’d like to contribute. Set aside lessons, or 10 minutes during tutor-time, to come up with decorating ideas – you could choose flowers together, for instance, and learn about the different types as you browse.

The decorating process applies to the outside of the building as well – you could begin a gardening project with your students, where each one has a potted plant placed around the edge of the building to look after. You could tend to the ‘garden’ together a few times a week – effectively teaching them about nature and biology in a fun, involving way while uniquely combining their indoor and outdoor environments.

You may also want to establish a new ‘green’ mantra after moving in, something that encapsulates the purpose of the move and the importance of eco-awareness: ‘green, lean learning machines’ or ‘we play in the trees and learn with ease’ spring to mind as good slogan candidates, though it might be wise to construct your own with your class that’s  more personal, in keeping with making the room their own. Your slogan could then go up on the wall, serving as a helpful and consistent reminder to the class about the purpose of the room and the importance of having an ‘all-in-this-together’ attitude.

Teach your class to be eco-warriors.

Now that you have an eco-classroom, you’ve got a unique vantage point for teaching your pupils about conservation and the environment.

Emphasise the environmental aspects of your eco-classroom by a), teaching them about its construction and ecological value and b), employing several eco-friendly habits within the classroom to keep up the good work, keeping the conservation theme firmly in mind. For instance, you could create a mini-recycling centre to get kids excited about the concept, or encourage them to bring in old household items you can ‘upcycle’ in art class.

Your eco-classroom, on top of everything else, is a great symbol about the importance of the environment and sustainability, serving as a reminder to both the school and the community, that they – and, in fact, all of us – can make a difference to our carbon footprint. Therefore, take care to emphasise the environmental role of your eco-classroom when teaching and interacting with your pupils – they are, after all, the future of conservation. Now that’s a lesson worth remembering.

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