Blog / Teaching pre-schoolers to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle  – the three “R’s”

July 28 2022,

Teaching pre-schoolers to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle  – the three “R’s”

Teaching pre-schoolers to reduce, reuse and recycle 

“Don’t throw away the milk carton, we can Reuse it’. 

“Keep the egg carton, let’s plant something”. to Reduce the impact on the environment

"Lets' Reuse that cardboard box!" or "Lets Recycle that plastic bottle"

Teaching children at a young age about recycling and reusing brings enormous benefits not just to the physical environment but also to their learning experience as they use their imagination to recreate things from scratch. Children probably have heard the concept of the three R’s through different channels but what do they actually mean? 

The best way to ‘explain’ the three R’s to children is through real life experiences with live demonstrations. Children learn best through watching, therefore involving them in the actual experience will allow them to feel a sense of achievement. 

  • Recycled materials offer open-ended learning opportunities 

When you tell your child to keep the empty egg carton, what's the next thing we hear? You guessed it - Why? Children are curious beings that have a lot of questions about the world they are in, therefore as educators and parents our job is to explore the questions with them rather than ‘giving’ the answers to them. 

  • This will be the time when you can remove the plastic toy boat from the bathtub and transform the egg carton into a boat to show the child what ‘reusing’ means. This will provide children with opportunities to take apart resources and explore freely without any limitations. 

Ever thought of using egg cartons to teach children the concept of road safety? Children can paint the egg cartons into the corresponding colours and use the traffic lights during dramatic play at home with cars and tracks. It’s such a simple idea and most of all it’s free! 

When children can see that ‘litter’ can be reused in multiple ways, they will become more interested and motivated in learning more about the three R’s. Who knows, maybe the need for you to buy toys for your child will decrease as they are occupied in creating their own resources and growing their imagination at the same time.

More importantly, it sets the right baseline for them to grow with 'recycling is normal and better' rather than something they 'should' do..

The concept of the three R’s is very simple if we break it down for our children. In simple terms: 

  • Reduce the amount of waste you produce 
  • Reuse items as much as we can before replacing them 
  • Recycle items where possible

Below is a little video that explains the three concepts in very simple terms with animations.

Children can make a difference to our world if we give them the opportunity to explore their questions through self-discovery. Let’s start now! 

At Turtletot Childcare in Bexley we use as much of the packaging as we can with the children to inspire their imaginations.. Here is our latest creation - the Turtletot Recycled Rocket!

The Turtletot Recycled Rocket

There is so much scope for the imagination when working with packaging and the children never get sick of it, this next picture is a little table with an indigenous theme that the children made with the Teachers from a tyre! We need to paint the tyre walls white to comply with safety regulations, then the room designed and painted a wooden top (also recycled wood) and then glued them together!

There is no limit to what we can do at home and in the classroom to re-use whatever we can, this not only helps our planet, but it sets such a great example for the youngest generation.

Much love and recycling from the Turtletot Childcare team in Bexley.

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