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Guides for Grownups​

How to Teach Sustainability through Play

18 April 2024

5 min.

As parents, caregivers, guardians and educators, we’ve got some big mountains to climb when it comes to our children’s education. Talking and teaching sustainability can be one of the harder lessons we need to teach our young ones, and it can sometimes feel a bit daunting, especially given the complexity of some of these issues and topics. But what if it was easier than you think?

The journey toward sustainability doesn’t have to be complicated or hard; it can be as simple and enjoyable as playtime. We’ve gathered some insights and tips on how to make learning about sustainability a fun and enriching part of playtime. Let’s get started!


Why Play?

The concept of learning through play isn’t new, but when it comes to environmental education, it’s gold. Play is the language of children. It’s how they understand the world around them, solve problems, and develop social, cognitive and physical skills.

Toys that mimic real-world eco-activities, like planting trees or recycling, can provide hands-on experiences in a context that children understand and enjoy. It’s about transforming the act of playing into an opportunity for subtle learning and awareness.

Simplifying Sustainability

The hardest challenge when it comes to teaching children about climate change and sustainability is making these ideas easy to understand. When play includes eco-friendly elements, it helps children understand complex concepts in a simpler, more relatable way.

This form of learning is not only enjoyable but also highly effective, as it engages children’s senses, sparks their imagination and encourages curiosity. Once children are primed from playtime, it’s easier to show them how what they’ve learned through play can be applied to their real-life routines.

This doesn’t have to be complicated, either. It can be as simple as using the correct recycling bins, turning the lights out when they leave a room or turning the tap off as they brush their teeth.

Tips for Purposeful Play

To help make integrating sustainability topics into your child’s playtime even easier, we’ve compiled some of our top tips and tricks for enriching their play and learning:

  • Nature-Based Play: Encourage outdoor play in natural settings. Activities like gardening, nature walks, and outdoor scavenger hunts can teach children about biodiversity, ecosystems, and the importance of preserving natural habitats. These activities foster a deep connection with nature, laying the groundwork for sustainable thinking.
  • Recycled and Upcycled Toys: Introduce toys made from recycled materials or upcycle household items into playthings. This not only reduces waste but also sparks creativity in children as they find new uses for old items. Building a fort out of cardboard boxes or creating art from recycled materials can be exciting ways to learn about reducing, reusing, and recycling.
  • Role Play Toys: Role-playing toys where children take on roles such as farmers, wildlife conservationists, or environmental scientists can help them understand the challenges and responsibilities associated with these roles. Such activities encourage empathy and a deeper understanding of the impact of human actions on the environment.
  • Storytelling with a Green Twist: Incorporate books and stories that focus on environmental themes. Stories about forests, oceans, and endangered animals can spark discussions about conservation and the importance of taking care of our planet. This can be followed by creative activities like drawing or writing their own eco-friendly stories.

Our Top Toy Rec: The Green Planet Explorers

So, now that you’ve got the knowledge and tools in your parenting arsenal to start introducing your child to sustainability, what toys should you choose? To help make your child’s sustainability journey (and your job as parents!) easier, we’ve designed a line of toys focussed on the topic of sustainability: The Green Planet Explorers!

The Green Planet Explorers are a group of friendly animals on a mission to preserve their habitats and save the planet from climate change. From organic gardening and upcycling to solar power and aquatic conservation, this group of animals is ready to show your child how easy and rewarding sustainability can be.

Did we mention that all toys in our GPE range are made from a minimum 80% renewable materials?
Incorporating eco-friendly toys like the Green Planet Explorers into playtime doesn’t have to feel like an add-on or a forced lesson. These toys are designed to be as engaging and entertaining as they are educational. They naturally invite curiosity and questions, leading to organic learning moments that resonate with children long after playtime is over

Final Thoughts

Through the simple yet profound act of play, we can instil values of stewardship, empathy, and responsibility in our young ones. The tips and insights shared here are merely starting points. As parents, educators, and caregivers, the real magic happens in the everyday moments we choose to make sustainability a part of our children’s world.

Remember, the goal isn’t to have all the answers, but to spark curiosity and a love for our planet that will grow with them. Let’s embrace the journey of teaching sustainability, making it as joyful and playful as the children we aim to inspire.