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Kindergarten: Waste in the classroom

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Waste education resources for Queensland Kindergartens

This Waste Education Queensland classroom guide is designed to support educators by providing links to easy-to-use, high quality activities which address the Queensland Kindergarten Learning Guideline (QKLG) and develop student understanding about waste issues.

Waste is everyone’s responsibility and the sooner we learn about positive behaviours and habits for improved waste management, the more impact we can make. As teachers, we have a responsibility to share knowledge with future generations, creating awareness for a more sustainable future. Kindergartens are the perfect environment to educate and model progressive waste-wise practices with young children.

We all make choices daily that directly affects the amount of waste we create as individuals, families, communities, businesses and economies. Food choices, grocery items, clothing, stationary, packaging, transport, the stores we support and what we do with waste generated from these choices all directly correlate to our impact on environmental waste.

The curriculum resources are organised under key sustainable waste management topics based on the advice of experienced waste educators and informed by the Queensland Government Waste Management and Resource Recovery Strategy: Community Summary.

These topics include:

  • Taking action on waste: giving students a voice about how they can make a difference toward how waste is managed at school and in the home, reduce litter, audit waste, conduct community campaigns, build stewardship, run clean-ups
  • Sustainable waste management: understanding how waste systems work, where waste comes from and where waste goes, environmental impacts, what infrastructure is required e.g. bins, landfills, recycling facilities, processes
  • Materials and their value: maximising the value of the resources we use; includes what materials are made from, the properties and uses of materials, the circular economy
  • Rethink: avoid and reduce: minimising what we buy and avoiding disposable or over packaged items
  • Repair and reuse: using the same item more than once, preferably many times, and repairing it rather than throwing it out. Sell valuable items or donate them to charity.
  • Reduce organic waste: buying only what is needed, storing food carefully, cooking food and using leftovers, composting and worm farming organic waste (green waste and food waste)
  • Recycle: recycle as much as possible and recycle right.

Meeting state and national requirements

The Queensland Kindergarten Learning Guideline (QKLG) provides a framework for children’s learning in kindergarten and is based on the national Early Years Learning Framework.


Key Focus: Showing respect for environments

Significant Learnings

  • Caring for the kindergarten
  • Exploring interactions between people and environments

Active Learning

Key Focus: Building positive dispositions toward learning

Significant Learnings

  • Problem-solving, investigating and reflecting on learning
  • Being imaginative and creative

Key Focus: Showing confidence and involvement in learning

Significant Learnings

  • Applying knowledge in different contexts
  • Sharing ideas and discoveries

A range of active learning strategies address this learning and development area including ‘play-based, inquiry-based and project-based’ activities, using real-life contexts to allow children to make sense of their world and to support their decision-making processes and choices. The links include hands-on activities, videos, reused and recycled art projects, games, book suggestions, science investigations, waste audits and challenges.

In ‘showing respect for environments’, students learn to:

  • engage in and take responsibility for developing sustainable practices.
  • develop awareness of problems and actions to protect environments.

In addition, kindergartens and preschool centres are required, under the National Quality Framework, to submit a Quality Improvement Plan: one element of which requires them to demonstrate ongoing improvement in their environmental responsibility.

The How to manage waste in schools and early learning centres section of the Waste Education Queensland web page contains additional resources for redesigning waste management processes in your centre to save operational costs and reduce the volume of waste you are sending to landfills. The relevant ‘how to’ guides are:

  • Managing waste in your kindergarten
  • Managing organic waste in your school or centre

Waste as art

The arts provide a valuable opportunity to explore waste and other sustainability issues in Kindergarten. The guide provides practical ideas for incorporating environmental sustainability in art projects taken from A guide to implementing waste as art and environmental art projects in schools: a resource developed by the NSW Department of Education and based on a project implemented by Woollahra Municipal Council.

Embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives

The Queensland Kindergarten Learning Guideline also includes a key focus on showing respect for diversity including learning about other cultures. The Caring for Country: First Nation peoples’ perspectives on managing our resources sustainably guide in the How to manage waste in schools and early learning centres section of the Waste Education Queensland website explains ideas and activities that can be adapted to meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kindergarten children and provide valuable learning strategies for all children.

This document is part of the suite of free waste education resources at www.wasteeducation-qld.org


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