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Hands-on learning tools that support the 3R's: Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling.

Updated: Mar 25

Getting hands-on:

It’s no secret that one great way to make any activity more exciting is to have a hands-on component, especially when working with kids. The GLS team knows this and makes an effort to incorporate hands-on activities into all of our educational offerings. 

In some situations, such as with assemblies, there are limitations so hands-on activities mostly involve students using hand motions and songs to go along with the lessons they are learning. However, for our Pre-Kindergarten lessons or our favorite Earth Day event, we get to have SO MUCH FUN incorporating hands-on activities into the lessons. When possible we even include take-home materials to further engage students and incite more interest in recycling and taking care of the environment through a combination of fun activities and STE(A)M-focused initiatives. 

Here’s a list of some of our favorite activities to include in our youth educational programs: 

A storybook  about recycling for PreK-2nd graders

In “Georgie’s Busy Day” students get to join Georgie on a walk through his neighborhood where he learns about the importance of recycling.

Written with a fun rhyming cadence that is enjoyable to read, Georgie's Busy Day entertains while teaching students about litter, recycling, and why it's important. Leaving these for all our Pre-K lessons, and providing copies for teachers to have in their classrooms after we leave allows us to share these amazing books with many


Buttons, Buttons, Get your buttons 

One of the favorite stations during the Earth Day event held at a Detroit School every year, is our Button Making Station. Students are given paper to draw a picture to remind them of Earth Day and then the GLS team helps students make their pictures into buttons they can put on their coats or backpacks. This gives students not only something to be proud of — but a way to remember the lessons they learned on Earth Day. 

A comic book teaching about plastics for 3rd-8th graders

In the “Life of Poly Plastic” comic book, 3rd-8th graders can find an engaging way to talk about plastic — where it comes from and what happens after we use it. This comic book comes with activity pages for students to do when they are done reading. Having the opportunity to leave copies of this book with teachers after assemblies would be just one of the many ways GLS educators would be able to enhance the learning opportunities for these older students.  

An Activity Book to help explore your yard and neighborhood

Another hands-on tool the GLS team takes to our Earth Day event, as well as many Our Backyard Detroit events, is our Bee Green in Your Backyard activity book. These helpful handouts are designed to help students explore the nature and environment in their own backyards and communities. Giving students activities that allow them to take old items and turn them into new things that support natural habits for birds and pollinators gives Detroit youth the chance to be little environmentalists. 

From Old and Used to Clean-Smelling Fun 

Green Living Science has an intricate but compact, generator-powered,  plastic recycling device that can be unloaded from our STEAM machine trailer as an add-on to the plastic impact and recycling lesson. This hands (and safety glasses) on demonstration showcases how the MILLIONS of laundry detergent bottles we could be recycling are shredded down, melted, and formed into a clean-smelling “puck” (or coaster) that allows students to see the full recycling process in real-time. 

Pizza Party & Teacher Appreciation

To increase the interest and excitement around students signing up their homes for recycling, we incentivize them (and their teachers) with a contest. Not only does EVERY eligible student and educator receive a FREE recycling cart at their home, but the winning class and its teacher who returns the most recycling vouchers will also have GLS bring these students pizza and soda and a $50 gift card for the teacher to use for classroom supplies. 

These hands-on tools are fun and exciting and, without students knowing it, they showcase the pre-, present, and post-states of the recycling process in conjunction with the three Rs and where they take place to best benefit students' daily lives and the impact each, and as a whole, can have on their communities. 

If you would like to discover more activities that you can do at home, or with your family and friends, check out our YouTube channel!

These tools, in addition to sustainable-focused building, arts & crafts, and project supplies add the A in STEAM and transform into additional teaching opportunities giving students, groups, and the community inspiration to be creative as they push toward a less impactful and greener future. We are so thankful to have support for these educational tools that allow us to deepen our impact with our interactions with students. 

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