Welcome to Sustainable Schools
We now have a special section with sustainability activities for everyone – including some suitable for home-learning during the coronavirus school closures.
***ENTER OUR LOCKDOWN COMPETITION***
Deadline for entries 5th June
Under 18’s only
Share your lockdown sustainability activities with us on social media or by email – especially if you’ve given one of our ideas a go!
or email us via the contact form below and someone will come back to you to hear all about it!
About Sustainable Schools
Sustainable Schools is new project from Sustainable St Albans aiming to be:
a one-stop shop for St Albans District schools seeking help to reduce their environmental impact and teach children about the climate emergency.
Whether cutting your own school’s carbon footprint or teaching your students about climate change, we aim to provide resources here for you. Looking for something and not finding it here? Contact us to let us know.
Sustainable Schools Page Contents
Reduce the ecological impact of your school
Top Tips; Useful Websites
Teach your students about climate change
How to be age and stage appropriate; Videos; Teaching Resources
Whether you are a teacher or a parent, or simply after some interesting activities for yourself during lockdown, here is an A-Z of some activities to do at home about wildlife and sustainability.
A is for Arts & Crafts inspired by nature
Nature gives us unlimited inspiration. From a simple pencil sketch of the view from your window to a giant paper mache ladybird! Everyone loves a bit of art & crafts, whatever their age!
Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust have plenty of lockdown nature activities to keep you busy with their #WildAtHome campaign – and many of them are arty. Try watching their video on learning to draw birds, try a simple activity of painting a butterfly with the kids or even make your own dye!
Local artist, Kate Buchanan, has been putting some short video tutorials on Instagram – try watercolours of feathers, poppies and eucalyptus. It’s great fun; ages 6 – adult.
Here are more kids’ ideas:
Use materials you already have. Home-schooling or crafting? You don’t need to buy everything new. Old magazines and newspapers can be used for all sorts of things from reading practice to craft projects; yoghurt pots and ice cream tubs for water play for little ones to learning about capacity and measuring for older ones; all sorts of old containers (even wellies!) are great for planting seeds in – you could even make a miniature garden in a fruit punnet or a fairy garden in a shoe box.
Try making art with natural materials. Collect them when you go out for your walk or in your garden. How many colours can you find in nature? How many textures? Google Andy Goldsworthy images for inspiration of what you could turn it into!
See what local St Albans District people are getting up to on the Isolation Arts Cafe public Facebook group – lots of local people posting nature photographs and art as well as good local music.
B is for Bees, Birds and Butterflies
Attract and watch wildlife. Bird watching and counting can be done from the comfort of your sofa looking out the window.
- Join Chris Packham’s Self Isolating Bird Club on Facebook – with live feeds every morning!
- Learn how to attract birds into your patch
- Learn how to identify common British species
- You don’t need a garden to feed the birds – take a look at how to feed the birds from your window
- Play a game to identify bird song and find out more about each bird via this RSPB Birds A-Z explorer
- Make bird feeders from apples
- Make a bird feeder from recycled plastic bottles
- Grow a secret garden for butterflies
- Plant pollinator-friendly plants
- Further activities to attract wildlife into the garden
C is for Climate Change
Learn about climate change and how to combat it
Click here for our resources on climate change – we have lots of material including short films and lesson plans, many of which can be adapted for home learning or simply make interesting reading.
D is for Daily Inspiration
Follow these Facebook pages for some sustainability activity inspiration….
- Sustainable St Albans
- Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust – #WildAtHome inspiration
- FoodSmiles St Albans – Grow your own
- Grow Community Sopwell – Grow your own
- CultureWood – a Welwyn GC Forest School – Lockdown activities for kids
- The Cobbled Kitchen – Cook from scratch, use up leftovers, make food last
E is for Earth School
Earth School is a month of daily adventures. Every weekday between Earth Day (April 22nd) and World Environment Day (June 5th), Earth School will be providing resources compiled by Earth experts – watch a short animation, do a quiz, have a think and then discuss. Lots of ideas for getting involved in ways that count – with ways to protect, nurture and care for Earth. Best for ages 12+.
F is for Flowers – especially Sunflowers
Join in with the Great St Albans Sunflower challenge – pick up a packet of seeds from various addresses in St Albans as part of your exercise walk. The challenge is being organised by St Albans group Wilderhood Watch.
G is for Growing your own food
Eat something you’ve grown yourself. You don’t have to have a garden to grow your own food. From a few seeds in a pot on the windowsill comes a wondrous new world of eating what you have grown yourself. The Royal Horticultural Society is a good place to start your journey.
- Local St Albans District groups including FoodSmiles, Grow Community-Sopwell and Plot 31 are asking everyone to make a One Plant Promise this Spring and grow one thing to eat themselves. Register here to join in and receive regular growing tips! Follow the organisations on social media to get up to date info on where to buy seeds locally and ideas of what to grow.
- If you live in Sopwell, then you can pick up free seeds and become part of the growing community there – see Grow Community-Sopwell.
- Herbs, like basil, and quick growing salad, like rocket, can be grown in punnets on a window sill. Once you have your own herbs give the kids some yoghurt or mayonnaise and invite them to invent their own recipes for a flavoured dip.
- Try growing carrot tops, cress seeds in old egg shells or pea shoots in old yoghurt pots on the windowsill.
- If you have a small outdoor space like a balcony or patio, you can pot up a few tubs. Try beetroot or carrots as they can be direct sown into the tub outside. Tomatoes are always good fun – start them off indoors and plant them out when the weather gets warmer.
- If you are lucky enough to have more space, the world is your oyster. From beans to courgettes, pumpkins to strawberries, you can grow almost anything you want.
- Don’t over-use that hose! Use water carefully and consider installing a water butt.
- For home-learning, use a vegetable you have grown yourself as a family as the basis for a whole host of learning! From drawing pictures of it, writing stories about it, dividing it into fractions and cooking with it, you can make a whole day out of it – try Carrot Tales to inspire you.
H is for Hedgehogs
- Find out more about hedgehogs with this short animated film clip, Hedgehog Close with Gordon Buchanan
- Follow the work of local hedgehog sanctuary Hornbeam Wood including videos of hedgehog releases on their Facebook page.
- Build a hedgehog house – here is how! (scroll to the bottom of the page for a simplified version using an old plastic box) and don’t forget to put holes in your fence for that hedgehog highway (see the Gordon Buchanan video above).
K is for Kitchen Fun
Enjoy cooking from scratch and make the most of all the food you have.
- Use up all the food you have – choose and make recipes that use up your leftovers using the LoveFoodHateWaste Recipe Finder.
- Learn to cook from scratch. Baking is a great way to start – this Banana Loaf Recipe for Kids uses up old bananas and has tips on baking with kids too – there are lots of other flavour Banana Loaf Recipes on the website.
- Keep up with local cooking school The Cobbled Kitchen by following them on Facebook for recipes and ideas – why not sign up to their mailing list here?
L is for Local Facebook Groups
Join in with the chat about local sustainability on these St Albans District Facebook Groups
- St Albans Eco
- St Albans Mums Zero Waste Group
- Plastic Free Harpenden
- Harpenden Garden – Home Grown Fruit & Veggies
- St Albans Greenpeace group
- St Albans Friends of the Earth group
M is for Mindfulness
Try some mindfulness: When feeling anxious, it can really help to bring you into the moment by using your senses. Think about: 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 thinks you can touch, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. Step outdoors to do this activity and enjoy nature at the same time.
Hear music in the sounds of nature: try this activity using nature to teach children about sound
N is for Nature
Find out about your own natural world
- This top ten list of nature activities to do with kids from the Woodland Trust is a great place to start.
- Follow along with BBC Spring Watch on Facebook or Instagram.
- Learn all about worms
- Try more nature activities with Wildlife Watch
- Find out about the state of British Wildlife via the RSPB State of Nature 2019 report
- Walk or run through a wood or the park if you have one open near your home and use some simple identification sheets to find out what trees and flowers are growing there as you pass through. You can download some easy wildlife identification sheets here, example below.
O is for Outdoors
Try local cycling….
P is for Photography
Try some wildlife photography using a family camera or smart phone. This can be done from a window, in your garden, or in any green space. You don’t need to be in a jungle surrounded by exotic animals to capture amazing wildlife photos. Sometimes you just need to look closely at the nature surrounding you!
- Be patient, you may find that you have to sit and wait by the bird feeders for birds to come, or for the bumblebee to turn around
- Take a lot of photos and chose your favorites later
- Start off with animals that won’t run away too easily, such as a spider in its web or a plant.
- Don’t forget to look to close ups of small things – lichens and mosses can be particularly beautiful and artistic.
- Get inspired, have a look at some award-winning wildlife photography.
Why not submit you entry to the The Wilderhood Watch Photography Competition – Wilderhood Watch is a St Albans based organisation running a photography competition for all ages during lockdown to find the best photograph of garden wildlife.
Q is for Quizzes and Puzzles
- Download and have a go at our Wildlife Quiz
- Get the young people doing puzzles and exploring with Woodland Trust Activities – you can even search by curriculum level here
- Try this wildflower quiz
R is for Radio
Listen to a local show on podcast. Environment Matters – Radio Verulam (St Albans local radio) has its own environmental news show at 7pm Wednesdays or on podcast at the bottom of their webpage. Well worth a listen to hear all that is going on locally on the subject of sustainability.
S is for Scouts
Bring the outdoor adventures inside. Usually known for their outdoor adventures, the Scouts have a great selection of activities for The Great Indoors during lockdown
T is for Tell us
A reminder to share your lockdown sustainability activities with us on social media or by email – especially if you’ve given one of our ideas a go!
or email us via the contact form here and someone will come back to you to hear all about it!
U is for Understanding about the environment
Try these BBC bite size tasks on the Environment
V is for Volunteer Organisations working on Sustainability
Find out about St Albans volunteer groups focussing particularly on sustainability.
- Don’t forget to follow Sustainable St Albans on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
- Friends of the Earth St Albans – Twitter and Facebook Group
- Plastic Free St Albans – website, on Facebook, on Twitter
- Plastic Free Harpenden – website, on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram
- Ver Valley Society
- St Albans Greenpeace
- Extinction Rebellion St Albans
- St Albans Environment Action Group
W is for Water
Learn and conserve.
- Build a small pond in your garden and bring wildlife in.
- Learn about the local precious chalk streams we have in the district – the River Ver and the River Lea
- Watch a film about the threats facing our local rivers and what you can do to help.
Z is for Zero Waste
There is no “away”.
- Get the whole family involved with the sorting the recycling. Look at the St Albans District Recycling Guide together to find out what goes in which bin.
- Don’t bin it! Store anything that can be reused if you can until the charity shops and swapping sites like Freecycle start up again.
Top Tips to do your school’s bit to save the planet – and save money too!
- Talk about climate change with students, staff, outside suppliers, parents – make it central to decisions that you make.
- Make a sustainability policy for your school. Here is a sample sustainability policy from a local school.
- Keep school warmer in Winter – cut draughts (with curtains, draught excluders, draught excluding tape) and keep outside doors and windows closed.
- Don’t waste heating – if most students don’t need a jumper could your school be too warm? Could you turn the thermostat down by 1 degree? This could save 5-10% off your bill. Consider switching off radiators that are by permanently propped open doors eg to playground. Buy your electricity from a green provider.
- Cut your electricity usage – lights and screens are the prime culprits. Get a student team to monitor that they are switched off when not in use. Convert bulbs to low energy if you can.
- Maximise classroom daylight. Do you really need displays on the windows?
- Cut down single use plastic – start with students bringing reusable water bottles. Look at your school trips and your bought-in supplies. Get your caterer on board.
- Who is your waste contractor? Did you know that St Albans District Council will pick up dry recycling fortnightly and food waste weekly from schools for free (though not landfill waste)? They will provide all the outside bins. Contact Louise Palmer at the council on 01727 819428 or on firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Herts County Council freebies. Free visits to schools from Herts County Council’s waste education officer – assemblies and follow up activities for Key Stage 2 and 3 linked to the Science curriculum. Also, your school is entitled to two free composters! Visit Herts County Council web page to find out more about this.
- What is your school milk solution? If you’re getting cartons with straws for each pupil, there’s a huge amount of waste there. Cool Milk, for example, will now provide reusable beakers and milk in larger units of measure or reusable glass bottles (if available from the local contract dairy) at no extra cost. Contact your school’s own milk provider to see what changes you can make and see our recent blog article.
- Plant some trees. Free trees can be obtained via The Woodland Trust’s free trees for schools programme. Not possible? How about raising money for trees to be planted somewhere else? Try a non-uniform day for Just One Tree or a similar organisation.
- Get your PTA on board. Many fundraising events have the potential to create huge amounts of waste. Here is a sample PTA sustainabiity policy from a local school.
- Celebrate your successes to reinforce the environmental message. Student displays, parent newsletters, press releases, posters – anything that keeps the momentum going helps keep the environment at the front of people’s minds.
- Work towards an award to take it even further. Try the Eco Schools award for your Green Flag or Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) Plastic Free Schools Programme.
School Electricity Carbon Footprint Calculator (Top link on this page)
Join The Pod (Activities for children on energy efficiency including ‘switch off fortnight’)
Olio for Schools – help schools pass surplus food to those in need; also teaching resources and activities
Ecosia – why not switch your school search engines to default to this one that plants trees for every search made.
Salix provide interest free loans for schools to improve their energy efficiency. through the installation of energy-efficient technologies, such as insulation, LED lights and solar power
A series of articles on the Sustainable St Albans blog page that are examples of schools in St Albans District making a difference to their environmental impact.
- One School’s Journey to Cutting Single-Use Plastic – Crabtree Infants’ School, Harpenden
- St Albans Eco – Facebook Group
- St Albans Reuse Project – Facebook Group
- Zero Waste PTA UK – Facebook Group
- Plastic Free St Albans – website, on Facebook, on Twitter
- Plastic Free Harpenden – Facebook Group
- Friends of the Earth St Albans – Twitter and Facebook Group
- Environment Matters – Radio Verulam (St Albans local radio) has its own environmental news show at 7pm Wednesdays or on podcast at the bottom of their webpage
Keen to teach your students more about climate change but don’t know where to start? You have come to the right place! The Sustainable St Albans Schools Group have explored the many on-line teaching resources available and our recommendations are below.
Be age appropriate and manage the topic of Climate Change sensitively
Ages 3-7: Focus on playing in, exploring and enhancing a love of Nature, instilling connections to it and a future desire to protect it.
Ages 8-14: Starting to understand climate change. Important not to let the children feel a heavy burden of responsibility but useful to suggest ways in which they can help if they would like to.
Ages 14+: Students have a greater capacity to understand climate change but they are still children. If they want to join in with activism, encourage positive rather than negative actions – eg planting trees or singing (not shouting).
For age 8+, try reading this useful blog article on How to Talk to Kids About Climate Change. For all ages, teaching respect, community building and resilience will help prepare them.
You could also watch an interesting video from Jo Andrews of Learning Rebellion about how to approach the eduction of our children about the climate crisis. NB It is 1.5 hours long (try watching on 1.25x speed).
Short videos (max 5 minutes) that you may find useful to educate yourself or your students. Please watch videos first and make your own decision as to their suitability for your students.
Penguines & Polar Bears from the World Wildlife Fund
Age group 7-11
Our Future: Narrated by Morgan Freeman
Age Group: 7 +
Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s Simple Explanation of Climate Change
Age Group: Secondary
The World’s Largest Lesson: The UN’s Global Goals
Age Group: 7 +
Greta Thunberg and George Monbiot: Protect/Restore/Fund Natural Climate Solutions
Age: Secondary +
Age Group: All
Content: Activities and lesson plans for all ages exploring how to have a more sustainable Christmas for example, creating a wellbeing advent calendar and lesson plans for Geography, Science, PSHE, Food Tech on the hidden cost of fashion, the impact of cocoa production on people and planet and reducing food waste.
Registration to ‘Transform our World’ is required but is free for schools.
Age Group: 7+
Content: printable game – guess the lowest to highest carbon footprint of the items
Age Group: Primary and Secondary School. Resources for 7 – 11 and 11 – 14
Content: 6 Lesson plans, activity sheets and PPT resources to explore the causes and human impact of climate change and consider what action can be taken in response.
Curriculum: English, Geography and Science
Age Group: 7 -11 with adult support
Content: Wicked Weather Watch brings the issue of climate change to life for students using first hand experience of those who have witnessed climate change in the Arctic for themselves. Resources include simple experiments and are free to access once you sign up.
Age group: Primary and Secondary school resources for aged 7 – 14
Content: 3 lesson plans with activities, includes presentations in PDF form and printed hand-outs. You tube clips are also included and if you register they have more digital content, invites to events and teacher panels.
Curriculum: English, Geography, Science, Computing, Art and Citizenship
Age group: Secondary but could be simplified for Primary
Content: Facts and images, charts and graphs to visually explain.
Useful for making PowerPoints.
Curriculum: Science and Geography
Age Group: Primary
Content: Interactive website with lots of child friendly information on climate change. Sections include – big questions, weather and climate, atmosphere, water, energy and plants and animals. Activities, games and videos.
Curriculum: Science, Geography, Art and Design, Computing
Age Group: KS1, KS2, KS3
Content: Download last year’s still very relevant pack for schools; make your plans to join the 2020 campaign.
Curriculum: Art and Design; Design Technology, Science
Age Group: Year 10
Content: Introduction to Climate Change and accompanying activities
Curriculum: Geography and Environment
Age Group: Secondary
Content: Free forty minute activity which includes critical look at the news about climate and gets students discussing a range of big questions about the climate emergency.
A simple carbon footprint calculator – good for individuals / families and could be used for homework.
A useful list of educational resources, including some we have already listed above plus more.
The 2019 Sustainable Schools Day
This training day for eco-enthusiasts from primary and secondary schools took place at the fantastic Farmschool, Annables Farm on 22nd November 2019. 53 schoolchildren from 14 local primary and secondary schools joined in, finding out how to make their schools more environmentally friendly. Children took part in hands-on workshops led by Affinity Water, Friends of the Earth, Green Gorilla Consultants, Croxley Green Baptist Church and Sustainable St Albans.
In the morning they learned about climate change, saving water and reducing waste and in the afternoon, they had a choice of food and environment, trees or creating space for wildlife. The focus was on positive action to support the environment, with practical activities including making toys from wastepaper and creating bird feeders from apples. During the lunch break all the children enjoyed a tractor ride to find out more about looking after wildlife on the farm.
Isobel Mitchell, the organiser from Sustainable St Albans said:
“It was very inspiring to see how the pupils cared about protecting the environment and I am looking forward to hearing about the sustainability projects they implement in their schools.”
The pupils shared what they have already been doing in their own schools and took away lots of ideas for projects to run during next summer’s district wide Sustainability Festival, which takes place from 23rd May to 7th June.
Teach the Future
You may like to know of a new youth-led campaign called Teach the Future, run by the UK Student Climate Network (UKSCN) to urgently repurpose the education system around the climate emergency and ecological crisis. Key demands include a review of climate change education in the curriculum and inclusion in teacher standards.
Who we are
Sustainable St Albans has pulled together its local contacts including District representatives of various environmental groups, local school representatives (teachers, governors, PTA and heads) and professional trainers in environmental education. If you have expertise that would be of value to the group and would like to volunteer your time, please do contact us.
- Get in touch; we’d love to hear from you!
- Give us your suggestions for material you would find useful on this website
- Tell us about the sustainable activities you have been doing in lockdown.
Please fill in this contact form and someone will come back to you: