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Bottle up environmental enthusiasm with an innovative greenhouse


Getting recycling into the mindsets of younger children is a difficult, but essential, task. One headteacher has found an innovative way of emphasising the importance of the practice, however, through the medium of a very special greenhouse. Here Tom Parkin, headteacher at South Molton Infant School in South Molton, Devon, tells his story.

“At South Molton Infant School, we feel that outdoor learning plays a vital role in children’s education and one element of this is through the environment. We want children to have a real insight into recycling and environmental issues that feature in our curriculum. This led to us recently constructing a greenhouse out of recycled plastic.

The children brought in used two-litre drinks bottles from home and, under adult supervision, helped cut and assemble them onto canes, which formed the overall structure of the greenhouse. It seemed at one point as if the wind would knock the greenhouse down, but we are pleased to say that it stood up to all the recent bad weather and is still intact.

We decided on building a recycled greenhouse as we wanted to provide a very real example of recycling to the children. By using something all children have lots of at home, we could visibly show the positive uses of everyday rubbish.

The greenhouse isn't the limit of environmental learning at our school. Last summer we had a No Electricity Day, where we switched off all electrical items and spent the day learning about electricity and how it can be made using green resources. We're planning another one of these events in the summer. We are also hoping to recycle an old shipping container into an outdoor classroom. We plan to cut windows and a door into the container and then construct a living roof of plants on top. We hope that this will become a learning space for recycling and environmental issues.

Our aim in teaching about recycling to children in the 4-7 age group is to raise awareness and interest. With the recycled plastic greenhouse, I think that we've done both.”

Interview by Theo Serlin

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