In the beginnning of 2019 elementary school ‘Het Drieluik’ in Almere, the Netherlands started a project of 6 weeks (‘Atelier’) with the title: How does the earth feel today? In this project the children learned about environmental problems and thought about (and realised!) different solutions.
The main question in one of the classes was: Which animals suffer because of environmental problems? The children first talked about different problems like plastic soup, deforestation and climate change. They also talked about possible solutions like the recycling of materials. After talking about the negative effects on animals the children chose one of these animals. They made this animal out of waste materials, working together in small groups. The teachers wanted to stimulate the pupils to really work together. So each pupil made one part of the animal; head, legs, arms, core etc. In the end these parts had to fit together, so the children had to communicate with each other and come to an agreement about how the animal should be made.
The main result of the ‘Atelier’ was environmental awareness. For example: the children had to collect all the plastic waste they produced at home in one weekend. Back at school they threw this waste together and were surprised by the big pile this made. That way the teachers wanted to make the children aware of the amount of plastic waste we produce. The next step was thinking about how to reduce or recycle this waste. And so the children made their plastic animals with a lot of enthusiasm.
The children made different animals, for example a snake, gorilla, panda, turtle and crocodile. The children presented their animals to each other. They also had to guess what animal other groups had made. In the photo’s you can see really well what plastic waste the children have used.
During the ‘Atelier’ the children learned that plastic never degrades/dissapears. One of the children then asked: “But if plastic never degrades, why do people still make it?” The teacher answered that this was a real good question and challenged the children to think about sustainable alternatives for the plastic waste they had brought from home. Could they use something else instead? The next day the child, who had asked the question, brought his lunch to school, not in a plastic bag as usual but in a bread box.