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Green Challenges: Staying Green When Kids Are Indoors

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Winter is here, and with frigid temperatures, blizzards, and unpredictable weather, kids can get bored when stuck indoors. Take advantage of this time for some eco-challenges! Students can challenge themselves within the classroom or at home. They can have competitions with friends and classmates or even challenges between classes to see who’s the most green. You can decide what kind of reward to give out for your challenge, and remember even our prizes can be green!

1. Lights-Out Challenge

Do you know how much energy is wasted when lights are left on? Too much! Challenge students to turn out the lights when they leave the room. When they remember, the class can earn points. Check out the Lights Off Monday Support Package.

2. Phantom Power Challenge

Did you know that even when devices are turned off but left plugged in, they still use power! It’s known as Phantom Power, and they only way to stop this wasted energy is simple: unplug devices, such as TVs and computers, when not in use. Encourage students to observe which devices in the classroom and at home are always left plugged in, and to unplug them when not being used. When they unplug these devices at the end of the day, they can earn points. Nova Scotians can receive a smart power bar from Efficiency Nova Scotia when they participate in the free Efficient Product Installation Service. Smart power bars will help eliminate Phantom Power from a TV system! For more information on eliminating the phantoms at school, check out the Phantom Friday Support Package.

3. Screen-Free Challenge

How did students entertain themselves before electronics like smartphones, tablets, and video games? Challenge students to read out loud with friends, play sports, board games, hide and seek, create art, or come up with their own way to have fun without using electricity. It’s easy to have green fun! For every hour of screen-free fun, they could receive points.

4. Litterless Lunch Challenge

We often create lots of waste from meals, including plastic bags, straws, forks, and even wasting uneaten food. Waste will sit in a landfill for years, so let’s find ways to prevent waste. Challenge students to help make a school lunch that generates no litter at all! Use reusable dishes, a reusable drink container, a cloth napkin, and reusable cutlery! If half of the class or more brings in a litterless lunch, they can generate points! For more details, take a look at our Litterless Lunch Slideshow.

5. Plan a Winter’s Day Challenge

When extreme weather keeps students inside, you can use this time to plan a fun outdoor winter day with the appropriate weather. Students might work in groups to make a list of their favourite winter activities: sledding, snowshoeing, skating, skiing, winter hikes, etc. They can plan the location and create a packing list, including what they’ll need to wear (for example: coats, snow pants, mittens, sleds, reusable water bottle, litterless snacks). For every plan created, points can be awarded! If a student uses the plan with their family, bonus points! Watch this Winter Adventures video for outdoor activity ideas!

6. Upcycled/Recycled Craft Challenge

Challenge students to make a craft while only reusing things. Check recycling bins for magazines, plastic bottles, and more! See what students can create, from origami designs with old paper, to beads from old magazines, the options are endless! Reward students who try this activity with points toward the Green Challenge. Check our Pinterest Page for upcycled ideas!

7. Reusable Water Bottle Challenge

Challenge students to bring a reusable water bottle from home instead of buying water in plastic bottles. It’s a great opportunity to discuss how plastic can harm the oceans and our environment, and how the best option, even better than recycling plastic, is avoiding it completely. When students use reusable bottles, reducing plastic waste, reward them with points. Some schools have water bottle refill stations that count how many plastic bottles have been avoided thanks to all the fill-ups at that fountain! These videos can help us understand the life cycle of plastic:

Life of a Plastic Bottle – TED-Ed

Kids Take Action Against Ocean Plastic Video – National Geographic

When running your Green Challenge, try making these activities regular events. Modify the challenges as needed, and have fun while working towards a greener, more sustainable school and community for all. You can decide how to award points, and what to offer as incentives. Some suggestions include a few extra minutes outside at lunch, a whole class period outside like gym or science, or a pizza party when everyone brings their own plates and napkins from home. Reward the awesome efforts of students to encourage and motivate change that is mindful of the Earth.

~Pamela Chandler,
Engagement Officer

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