The Wild Tribe Heroes books are perfect for your nursery or preschool setting. Each book follows the true story of a well-loved animal – Duffy the Turtle, Marli the Puffin and Nelson the Whale. The aim is to educate the children and subsequently their parents about the problems of ocean plastic and how they can help. They are a fantastic introduction to the issue for young children and are a valuable teaching resource. They are a gentle approach to introducing new ideas into the preschool environment such as reducing or stopping your use of glitter, setting up recycling stations, deciding to have plastic free lunchboxes, stopping using straws, stopping balloon releases etc. Once the children have read and understood the stories they can understand the reasons behind the changes and they can then help open discussions about this with parents and carers.
These ideas can be adapted to suit each animal.
- Read to the whole pre-school and encourage children to ask questions
- Set up a mini-world using marine animals, sand, water etc – add in plastic rubbish elements. Could extend this with people/boats etc to rescue the animals
- Work into a puppet show
- Animal movement/dance – imagine they are swimming high on the surface or low on the seabed, diving down, flying etc
- Animal shaped healthy food ie turtle ice cake bodies, grapes for flippers and head etc
- Junk modelling animals using recycling
- Display about oceans – underwater scene – add in elements of plastic rubbish and quotes from children about how they can help
- Consider your use of materials such as glitter – are there any alternatives? Explain why glitter (microplastic) is a problem using the story to help support you. Should you wish to make any changes to your centre involving environmental themes, use the books and the children to help support you if there are any concerns raised by parents ie plastic free lunchboxes, glitter free etc
- Sort out recycling into different categories – plastic, glass, paper, cans etc
- Measure how big you are compared to the size of turtles e.g. are you as big as a Leatherback? Could mark the sizes of the turtles on the wall and each child measures themselves to see where they fit in. What other things are as big as a turtle e.g. a chair is as big as a Hawksbill.
- Watch the first few minutes of Finding Nemo. Talk about what a coral reef is like – warm, shallow sea, lots of different types of creatures and corals etc. Has anyone ever visited a coral reef? What was it like? Why do you think so many animals live here?
- Get creative with games – substitute traditional games with turtles e.g. whats the time Mr Wolf? Whats the time Mr Turtle? You can all be pieces of rubbish or jellyfish that the turtle is trying to catch. Grandmother’s footsteps – Catch the Whale – all the children creeping up are fishing nets trying to creep up on the unsuspecting whale (like ghost fishing gear). Stuck in the Mud – every time the children are tagged they are a turtle stuck on the surface of the water.
- Thinking about tropical reef environments, try to get a calypso beat going with the children – use musical instruments – can sing along or tap along to any of the children’s films Little Mermaid – Under the Sea for example.
- Draw chalk outlines outside of the animals. Fill with recycling materials to show the children what goes into the animals tummies. Could draw round the items or just place inside. Could make a game of it.
- Organise a beach clean or litter pick in your area with the children or wider community.
- Set up a recycling system in your pre-school if not already doing this.
- Work towards becoming a Plastic Free School – see Surfers Against Sewage website.
- Work towards Eco-School status – see Eco-schools website.
Consider the use of resources in your preschool setting. Here are some ideas for how you can reduce your use of plastic. Use the books to help engage children and parents with the changes you are making.