Classroom Tips for Going Green (Teach Two Reach)

Hi Guys. I definitely need to work on going more eco friendly in the classroom! Here are some ideas I have used and some I would love to do in the future!

I apologize for the lack of pictures of my own classroom. My laptop is giving me major troubles - doesn't let me open my pics, and I'm not in the classroom this year to take some new ones!!! :(((

Recycling Cereal Boxes:

Picture from

One thing that I do consistency each year is assigning projects using cereal boxes. I have students take their old cereal boxes and cut them up to create different items. We do a cereal box cover story. So the kids take the characters on the cover of a cereal box and use them in an adventure story. The "cover," of the story is the cover of the box. 

We also do a country report project every year and the way the students have to present it is in a cereal box. So they cut the cover of the cereal box and make it into a flap door. They cover up the box with pretty paper and put the title and some pictures on the outside. On the inside they use index cards to write down various facts and glue pictures as well. This is much more appealing to them than writing reports on regular paper!

Recycling Show

During Earth Day Week, we would do a recycling project where students would find items around their house and put them together to create something new. We would get tons of cool submissions such as recycled robots. We'd have a "show," where everything would be displayed outside the classroom and other classes could come take a look throughout the day. Here is a picture from MollyMooCrafts to give an example of something that can be done. 

Scrap Paper Bin

We rarely throw out construction paper scraps in our classroom. I have one of those large bins from Dollar Tree in the corner of the classroom. Whenever students use construction paper for projects, they throw usable scraps into the bin. We can use these later on for other projects or students can use the bigger pieces to draw on or use for things during free time. Here is an example from From The Pond.

So there are just a few ways that I tryyyyy to be eco friendly in the classroom. See you next month!

Going Green: The Paperless Classroom

The paperless classroom isn’t just around the corner anymore. It is here now! Thanks to 1:1 technology, students around the globe have access to their own digital devices such as wireless laptops, Google Chrome Books, and iPads. Many teachers and students now have access to a wide array of digital resources. This allows teachers to easily manage learning environments (even from their couch at home) and allows students to take responsibility of their own learning. Teachers are now using a variety of iPads apps and web tools to increase productivity. Classroom blogs, document sharing and storing sites, cloud based tools such as Google Docs and Dropbox, and even Learning Management Suites such as Google Classroom and Canvas are becoming more and more popular among teachers and school districts.

So, how can you transition to a paperless classroom?

It’s really much easier than you may think, and maybe you have already started the transition. Even if you only have one iPad, a small set of Google Chromebooks, or a few desktop computers – you can begin the switch to seeing less paper on your desk to more online digital products from students.

And, what's the best part? Students love going digital! This transition makes up a huge part of their generation today. We are literally in the “Digital Age” and students pick up and use technology much easier than most teachers can. Remember, if you only have a few devices in your classroom students can still complete online assignments during small group instruction with rotations. 

Here are a few tips to help you start thinking about going green and creating a more paperless classroom.

Going Green with iPads

I’m constantly using iPads in my classroom. The best part about having iPads is that almost every student can pick one up and use it with very little instruction. Most students today have access or have had access to some sort of tablet since they were very small. I have kindergarten and first grade students come to the lab and touch the screen on my desktop instead of using the mouse because they are so used to those touch screen devices!

QR Codes are very popular and so easy to create. Sites such as Chirbit, Unitag, QR Code Generator, and QR Stuff make QR Codes come to life! Now, you can add sounds, voice narration, or symbols and shapes to your QR Codes. They are super easy to make!

Here's an activity from Erintegration my second graders competed earlier this year where they scanned QR Codes to learn more about shapes and their properties. This is a great lesson for 2nd grade and up! Click here to find this activity in Erin's store for free!

Here students are learning about parts of speech by playing an iPad Scoot Game from Erintegration found here! 

You can also use iPads in a variety of other ways. I love using Book Creator and Toontastic to create digital books and cartoons. Apps such as Explain Everything and Educreations turn iPads into interactive whiteboards. Plus, there are tons of spelling practice and math fact fluency apps that are fun and educational for students to use. Want students to be more creative? There’s an app for that! iMovie and Stop Motion allow students to create their own movies while Haiku Deck and ThingLink give students flexibility in creating colorful and interactive presentations. Do these apps sound too hard for your students to use? Trust me, they are not! I teach grades K-6 and even my youngest students use many of these apps.

Going Green with Google Apps

Google Apps make up a huge part of my classroom! Eighty percent of what I teach includes using one or more of the Google Apps at a time. Today, sixth graders received an assignment in Google Slides on writing a persuasive essay about their Washington, DC trip. They were required to write their essay in Google Docs and include photographs from their trip. Once they are finished, students will send their completed assignment to me through email and I’ll edit it, make comments and grade it right from my own comfy couch at home! 

And a few weeks ago, 5th graders completed an interactive Google Slides assignment on The Water Cycle. They shared their completed work with me and I graded it from home. This lesson came from Danielle Knight. Her Go Interactive Google Notebook Collection is Ah-mazing!!!! You can check out this Water Cycle edition here.

Did you know that students can access their Google account from anywhere? Yep, several of my students finished this assignment at home and sent it to me to grade. All online, all digital, all paperless!

Right now, third and fourth grade students are working on Non-Fiction Text Features using Google Slides and the desktop Snipping Tool. They find non-fiction text features using Capstone Interactive (an online digital collection of non-fiction books that our school pays for). They take a picture of the text feature they have found using the snipping tool and insert it into the appropriate slide. My 2nd graders will start this soon! I can’t take credit for this wonderful idea. Erin from Erintegration actually created the majority of these slides. I just added a cover slide and a slide with directions. You can find it her At Home with Google Apps Series on her blog! {Can you tell I love Erin's products yet?}

I can’t leave out Google Forms. Google Forms is an excellent assessment tool! Use the add-on Flubaroo, and this Google App will grade the assessment for you! You can use Google Sheets to manipulate and gather feedback on skills you may need to reteach. Or, download it as an Excel file.

I also use Google Forms and Google Sheets to for surveys and needs assessments for our staff.

I believe that the paperless classroom is here to stay. Developing digital age learning environments by using the resources available to your students is not only “Earth friendly”, but it also prepares students for the future. The bonus is, you won’t need to worry about collecting papers, or those students who always seem to “lose” their assignment!

Classroom Tips for Going Green: Pre K Edition

Y'all, I have to be completely honest and say that I am not the best about going green. Eek! I said it! Here are a 3 ways that I consider myself to be eco friendly.

1) Bottle Caps

My families recycle plastic bottle caps and I reuse them for various activities. At the beginning of the year, my students use the bottle caps to practice constructing their names. Throughout the year, we have used them for games and to build cvc words. It is truly one of the easiest items to ask for. You'd be surprised how many you'll collect in a short amount of time!

This idea is from Pre-K Pages:

Making Names with Water Bottle Caps in #preschool and #kindergarten

2) Technology

 I don't consider myself a paper driven teacher. Thankfully, my school district has opportunities to apply for technology grants. I applied for one and received iPads for my entire class! We use apps like Letter School, iMovie, and Doodle Buddy to practice handwriting. Next year, I plan to utilize BookCreator and create more eBooks.

3) Use an online weekly newsletter 

I use Smore to create all of my weekly newsletters and then send them out via Remind and SeeSaw. This saves on a ton of paper and I am able to create them on my couch! Plus, I find my parents to be more informed and more involved!

Happy Teaching! 

Classroom Tips For Going Green {with Core Inspiration}

Going green tips…yes please! I live and teach in the San Francisco Bay Area, and we are total fanatics for clean, green living. If you don’t abide by the high standards for saving mother earth, you will get some…looks. If you have more material in your garbage bin than in your compost and recycling bins around here…that’s a fail. We definitely take pride in being one of the greenest areas to live in the world. Most of my second graders have lived and breathed sustainability since birth, making our classrooms a place where waste is not tolerated.   

Here’s a peek at a few ways my class gets educated with sustainability in mind.

STEM Materials (S.T.U.F.F.)

We have an entire corner of our STEM lab dedicated to clean recyclables, called S.T.U.F.F. (Scraps That Are Used For Fun). Students and families deliver clean recyclables to our STEM lab frequently to keep this area generously stocked with materials that are prefect for building.

Living Classroom

Each month, my class participates in a Living Classroom lesson. This district wide program focuses on helping young learners make a strong connection with the natural environment. This leads to an appreciation for life cycles, an understanding for how to grow healthy food, and the birth of environmental stewardship. Here’s a peek at our garden where these lessons take place.

Online News

Rather than sending paper communication to and from home, our school sends communication digitally. In my classroom specifically, all newsletters are uploaded to Google Drive and shared with parents using Google Sites. More frequent photo updates are shared with parents via Google+ so they can get an actual peek at our learning activities throughout the year. You can grab my Tweets From the Classroom and other editable newsletter templates here

Number of the Day Binder

Rather than copying or buying daily math warm ups, my second graders work in their Number of the Day binder first thing every morning. Page protectors make these pages reusable every day of the year, giving my students enriching and consistent place value practice without wasting paper.

School Wide Waste Management

All day, we recycle and compost as many materials as possible. Our office staff and custodial crew go above and beyond to ensure students are using receptacles in the classroom and in our picnic areas properly. 

Our class environmentalists and recyclers (student jobs) do the same for our class specifically at the end of each day. You can grab my Classroom Job Cards Freebie in my TPT store.

Waste Free Lunch

Many of our students come to school with a waste free lunch. That’s right, not a single item in their lunch bag is trash. They pack their lunch in washable containers and sleeves. Food scraps are composted when the lunch bell rings and everything else is packed away to be washed at home and reused another day. 

Reusable water bottles can be found on almost every desk so students stay hydrated without using not-so-eco-friendly plastic water bottles.

Hope you enjoyed a peek at a few of our favorite tips for building a sustainable classroom. Remember…every day is Earth Day!

Classroom Tips for Going Green - Upcycle!

An easy way to go green in the classroom is to upcycle! Upcycling is the process of converting old or discarded materials into something useful. Here are some ideas for upcycling in your classroom!
Use paper towel/toilet paper rolls for a fun STEM activity, like building your own marble run.
The rolls are also great for all kinds of crafts!
Instead of buying containers from the store (hard to resist all those cute and colorful ones I know), try to use some that you already have to organize and store materials. We used this big container that our animal crackers came in to store our wooden building blocks, since the box they came in was torn apart soon after we got them. I didn't take the time to make it cute, but you certainly could with a little paper or washi tape.

I also have used these plastic trays that our yogurt cups come in for counting and sorting practice with my little ones. 
I found this image online with no link, so I'm sorry for not giving credit, but these are beautiful  holders made from cereal boxes! I can think of tons of ways to use these in the classroom: student boxes, monthly lesson plans, magazines or books!
Magazine storage - cereal box, cut to shape and cover with patterned paper or fabric.:


Classroom Tips for Going Green - Make Your Own Rain Gauge {with the McGrew Crew}

We recently took a trip to the zoo. It was home school day so there were a few extra activity stations set up around for kids to participate in. One of them was a craft station, where students used an empty water bottle to make their own rain gauge. 

The boys and I enjoyed it so much that I wanted share it as a fun and educational way to re-purpose a water bottle! 

 empty water bottle
2 craft sticks
rain gauge ruler
clear packing tape
nature stickers (optional)
 1. Remove the bottle cap and cut off the top part right below where
it begins to taper. Adult supervision/help is recommended.
 2. Turn the top part upside down and put it (spout first) into the bottom part. Use clear packing tape to secure the 2 parts.
 3. Tape craft sticks to each side of the bottle to provide an anchor to hold the gauge in place in the ground.
 4. Use a large piece of clear packing tape to adhere the ruler to the
        bottle. Make sure to place it where it can be seen from the front of the bottle. Cover the whole ruler with tape to make it as water-
        proof as possible. If it's too long you can cut off an inch or two.
 5. OPTIONAL: Add fun nature stickers to your rain gauge, making sure not to cover up the ruler to it can be seen to measure rain.

***Click HERE to get a hard copy of these instructions and a classroom set of printable rulers!

Don't know what to do with all those leftover bottle caps? Don't throw them away! Check out these super fun ideas:

Hyacinth Flower Craft
Bottle Cap Math Facts
Bottle Cap Fishies
Bottle Cap Contractions
Subtraction Slide Math Game

Going Green {with Mrs. Decatur's Little Gators}

 Earth day may be over, but I think it is important to continue to teach our kiddos about conservation and how it should be part of our daily routines and not just a holiday in April!

One of  my favorite things to do to save on paper is super EASY!  I just take the HUGE pile of paper that ends up on the counter next to the copier (before it ends up in the trash can) and have my kiddos use it in our writing center to make books, write letters to each other, or write stories on. It saves me from making a ton of copies of writing paper! I, of course, still make copies of writing paper for the writing center, but I like to have a variety of options for the kids to be able to create with. They especially LOVE when I find extra colored paper copies! 

Now, I know that tidy tubs are no longer a novel idea, but they are a lifesaver when it comes to making sure our daily paper waste makes it into the recycle bin & not the trash can. 

Recycle Ranger is one of the favored jobs throughout the year, but really becomes popular in April! 

We keep our tidy tubs stacked up at the end of our group tables when they are not in use, the table leaders just place them in the center of the tables when they are needed. 

Here is one of our Recycle Rangers doing his part to help keep the Earth clean! 

Another thing I do in my classroom is to reuse anchor charts of parts of them at least! I know using post its is still using paper, but they are tiny little papers and really much less waste when you consider I have used the base of this chart three years in a row (two classes each year, that would have been 6 full sheets of chart paper had I not reused)! 

Plus the kiddos LOVE to write on post its and I LOVE it when they are excited to learn! 

Sometimes I just cut out and save parts of an anchor chart to reuse or re-purpose, (saving paper & saving time) the cute little guy was something I traced onto a circle map anchor chart last year. 

What do you do throughout the year to stay green in your classroom?