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Playing For The Future: Helping kids understand sustainability through play

Casey from @LittleLifelongLearners

At Faber-Castell, we believe that every decision we make can help create a brighter future, with bigger ideas and endless creativity for generations to come. In this article we explore why teaching sustainability through play is critical to raising the next eco-conscious generation. Here, we chat with Casey, an author, play advocate and the founder of @LittleLifelongLearners, a supportive hub of information for parents, carers and teachers, to learn about her approach.

Why is play-based learning important for young children?

Endless research has shown that children learn best through play. Through play, our little learners make sense of the world around them. It's something that comes so naturally to our children and it's our role as educators to prepare their learning environment so carefully in order to protect this very important part of childhood.

Why is the topic of sustainability important for children's learning?

Our children are growing up in a world where sustainability is right at the forefront of our minds. Collectively, we have finally realised the damage that previous generations have caused and now we are learning of ways we can protect and conserve. So, naturally, the next generation of children are essential in continuing this important work. The habits we can encourage our children to foster now are what will change the world for future generations.

Did you know?

From forest to distribution, Faber-Castell pine forests absorb more CO2 than they emit, making Faber-Castell the first 100% carbon-neutral production company in the stationery industry.

How can creative activities be used to teach sustainability in the classroom?

During my time as a Foundation teacher, we would accept donations of recyclable materials all year round which our students would use for all kinds of projects! Students would save bottle tops, tissue boxes, paper towel rolls, packing peanuts, CDs - anything and everything would come into the classroom for our children to use. They would use art supplies (including Faber-Castell paints, crayons, markers) to give these items a new lease on life. I believe this is one of the best ways we can support our children in learning the importance of reusing, recycling and sustainability. This collage box was often one of the most popular spaces during our planned playtime each day.

Why is it important for kids to know if creative tools they use are sustainable?

We want our children to be considering how their actions affect the environment on a day-to-day basis. Part of this is knowing where the materials we use are coming from and how they are made. In my own home, we will often cut A4 paper in half for our children to use for their creative endeavours. This simple change cuts down the amount of paper our home uses and we use this as an opportunity to talk about where paper comes from and why it's important to carefully think about the amount of paper we use. 

Did you know?

Our brand-new eco-friendly Naturals range uses 100% recycled cardboard packaging, is free from single-use plastic and includes pencils crafted from 100% sustainably forested wood.

What creative products can you recommend to use in the classroom that can aid in teaching about sustainability?

I'm a big fan of the new Naturals range by Faber-Castell. They're available in pencils and erasers and come in 100% recycled cardboard, don't include any single-use plastic and use 100% FSC-certified wood grown in forests owned the company. Even better, these sustainable forests are carbon neutral – meaning they cover 100% of Faber-Castell's CO2 production emissions. Personally, I think the Naturals products are a great start in educating children where pencils should come from.

What choices can we encourage kids to make to help them create a sustainable future?

A big one for me is recycling and considering whether an item should be thrown in the garbage or whether it can be used in a compost, worm farm, fed to pet chickens or recycled. We also consider what kinds of foods we can grow in our own home. We also encourage our little learners to think about water use and how important it is to use our water wisely.

As our little learners grow, we can also encourage them to consider how they use their creative supplies. We can consider the amount of paint we add to our paint palette and consider the materials we're using. Often once our crayons are getting quite small, we'll break them apart and put them into a silicone mould in the oven for a few minutes to melt them down. We're left with some fun new crayon shapes with all the little pieces that would normally end up in the bin. Little changes like this all add up in the long run!

Did you know?

100% of wood used globally in Faber-Castell pencils comes from either FSC or PEFC-certified sustainable forests. A large majority of this wood comes from the Faber-Castell pencil forests in Prata, Brazil. 

Our sincerest thanks to Casey for providing these valuable insights into raising eco-conscious kids through play-based learning. For more handy classroom ideas and lesson activities, visit Casey on Instagram @LittleLifelongLearners.