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Sustainability education programs for schools, kindergartens and early learning centres
There are a number of sustainability education programs for schools, preschools, and early learning centres that we subsidise or can assist with.
In our early childhood services, we follow National Quality Standard 3.3. This standard asks services to take "an active role in caring for the environment and contribute to a sustainable future". As a Council, we declared a climate emergency in 2018 and are committed to making sure our centres play a part in caring for our world.
The following programs, incursions and excursions are designed to engage students on topics such as local habitat and fauna, waterway health, waste and recycling and the environmental impacts of transport and food. A limited number of free sessions are available to Merri-bek schools and early learning centres each year.
Envirocom provides a range of in-person and online waste education sessions for schools, kindergartens and early learning centres. The sessions are designed to educate students about how waste and recycling impact our environment, and how they can reduce waste at home and at school.
Education sessions available are listed below. A limited number of free sessions are available per year. Individual or multi-class sessions can be arranged. You can email email@example.com to organise a booking or get more information.
Sessions for pre schools (suitable for 4-year old kinder)
1. Where does my rubbish go?
Children will be introduced to the concept of landfill and the recycling process as well as what can go in each bin. Children will participate in an interactive activity explaining the recycling process followed by a game to test their knowledge!
2. The wonderful world of worms
Children will be introduced to the concept of food waste and how we can recycle it using a worm farm. A demonstration on how a worm farm works and what food waste can be fed to the worms will be provided. A worm farm set up can be completed as part of this incursion if the centre provides the resources.
3. Litter, litter everywhere
Children will be introduced to what litter is and why it is so bad for the environment using examples of impacts on animals and their habitats. An interactive activity showing how easily litter can enter waterways will conclude the session.
Sessions for schools
1. Food for thought
Students will learn what food waste is, where it comes from, the impacts of food waste on the environment and how to reduce food waste.
2. It's a wormy world
Students will learn how worms and a worm farm can help to reduce our food waste, what types of food waste can go in a worm farm, and how to care for and maintain a worm farm. A worm farm set up can be completed as part of this incursion if the school provides the resources.
3. Caught on composting
Students will learn how a compost bin can help to reduce our food and garden waste, what materials can go in a compost bin, how to care for and maintain a compost bin using the ADAM recipe. A compost bin set up can be completed as part of this incursion if the school provides the resources.
4. Being resourceful
Students will gain an understanding of how human activities impact the environment, identify natural resources, learn the benefits of recycling and identify how to reduce our impact on the environment.
5. Recycling rules
Students will learn about the impacts of landfill, the importance of recycling and what materials can be placed in our recycling bins at home.
6. Litter, litter everywhere
Students will learn about the impact of litter on the environment, why people litter and how to reduce litter at school and in the wider community.
7. The wrap on wrapping
Students will learn about why we sometimes need packaging, the different types of packaging and how to reduce unnecessary packaging through being a smart shopper and having a rubbish free lunchbox!
8. The science of sorting
In this session students will conduct a Waste Audit, sorting waste from selected school bins. They will hand sort the contents then weigh materials to work out what proportion of the sample could be diverted from landfill. Students will create their own scientific report based on the results of the audit.
9. Beyond the bin
Students will learn what goes in which bin, as well as the journey each of the bin materials takes once we place our bins out at the kerbside for collection.
The Merri Creek Management Committee provides engaging and diverse environmental education opportunities. These sessions teach children about the native flora and fauna of the Merri Creek catchment. They also offer incursions or excursions.
Their programs include:
- Waterwatch (preschool to tertiary level)
- Learning Grounds (indigenous gardens for primary and secondary schools)
- Fascinating Frogs (prep to year 8)
- Five Senses in the Field (prep to year 6)
- Crafty Creek Creatures (prep to year 6)
- Habitat Surveys (year 3 to tertiary level)
- Plant Prints and Botanic Drawing (preschool to tertiary level)
- Volcanoes Rock (prep to year 8)
- Food Webs (prep to year 8)
- Indigenous Cultural Heritage (prep to year 10)
- Stormwater Story (prep to year 8)
- Picture This (prep to year 8)
- Kingfishers on Kids (preschool to year 6)
- Catchment Map
- Maths and measurement in nearby nature (years 3 to 8 - program can be tailored to other levels)
ResourceSmart Schools is an award-winning Victorian Government program that assists schools to embed sustainability in everything they do. This program is managed by Sustainability Victoria, and provides practical support to reduce resource use, make cost savings, integrate sustainability into the curriculum and share learnings beyond the school gate. You can find out more about ResourceSmart Schools on the Sustainability Victoria website.
Each year we provide funding for early learning centres in Merri-bek to participate in this program.
Expressions of interest to participate in the ResourceSmart in Early Childhood program open for Early Learning Centres in December.
CERES coordinates and delivers the ResourceSmart School in the Northern metropolitan region. To find out more visit:
- the ResourceSmart Schools page on the CERES website
- the ResourceSmart in Early Childhood page on the CERES website
You can also find out more about ResourceSmart Schools on the Sustainability Victoria website.
Cool Australia has joined with Visy to deliver free recycling education resources to teachers and schools in Merri-bek on the Cool Australia website.
The resources, prepared by leading Australian curriculum designers in collaboration with Visy, includes 32 free and effective curriculum-based lesson plans focused on the best ways to recycle, demystifying the collection process and what happens to the recovered materials once delivered to a Visy sorting facility.
Free resources for teachers at a glance:
- 32 curriculum-aligned lesson plans
- Saving 49 hours of teachers' time
- For students ranging from Early Learning to Year 10
- Designed by trusted, industry-leading education experts
Schools can start using the resources today to get kids involved with hands-on learning to encourage confidence in recycling-related topics and enthusiasm for how they can be advocates for closing the loop.
In addition, Visy is providing fully-funded scholarships to the first 125 teachers who enrol in our Professional Development Course Introduce Primary Students to Design Thinking. We will provide the 100% discount coupon to interested teachers from your LGA in the coming weeks.
For more information contact Naomi from Cool Australia by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Curriculum-linked sustainability education resources
We have gathered a list of resources to assist educators in teaching units related to environmental sustainability. Many are linked to the Victorian curriculum content.
These documents have been developed to assist teachers to find sustainability education resources specifically suited to the year level and subject they are teaching. Some of these resources are free and others may involve a cost.
The content of these documents was correct at the time of publication. However, providers may change details and links over time. Please email us at email@example.com to let us know if you find any broken links or other problems.
Preschools and early learning centre resources
Some resources for Preschools and early learning centers include:
Primary school resources
Some resources for Primary schools include:
- Our Foundation to Year 2 Sustainability Education resources (DOC)
- Our Years 3 to 4 Sustainability Education resources (DOC)
- Our Years 5 to 6 Sustainability Education resources (DOC)
- The Teachers Hub on the Public Transport Victoria (PTV) website
- Information on the Road Safety Education Victoria website
Secondary school resources
Some resources for Primary schools include:
- Our Secondary Science Sustainability Education Resources (DOC)
- Our Secondary Geography and Civics Sustainability Education Resources (DOC)
- Our Secondary Technology and Maths Sustainability Education Resources (DOC)
- Our Secondary Capabilities Sustainability Education Resources (DOC)
- The Teachers Hub on the Public Transport Victoria (PTV) website
- Information on the Road Safety Education Victoria website
Other sustainability programs and classroom resources
Additional sustainability programs and classroom resources include:
- CERES online resources on the CERES website: curriculum resources to support teaching and learning about sustainability in the classroom and at home.
- Earth Ed resources on the Earth Ed website: information specialising in STEM and Earth Sciences.
- Ecolinc programs on the Ecolink website: offer a range of onsite, online, outreach, and fieldwork programs addressing all AusVELS and VCE requirements.
- The Zoos Victoria website: a range of educational resources and programs for early childhood to year 12.
- The Zoos Victoria Teacher Tribe Facebook page: a place for teachers to share stories, ideas, and resources with zoo staff and other teachers.
- The Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria website: curriculum-aligned resources and programs aimed at all levels from Early Childhood to Tertiary.
- The Melbourne Water website: has a range of curriculum-linked resources and tours for Foundation to year 10.
- The Museums Victoria website: offer online and onsite education programs.
- The Parks Victoria website: offer a learning-in-nature program with a range of educational resources and excursion opportunities.
- The Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium website: has a range of guided and self-guided excursion programs.
- The Birds in backyards website: this is Birdlife Australia's research education and conservation program website which has teaching resources and programs.
- The Gould League website: offers excursions and incursions on environmental sustainability topics.
- The ABC's Education website: has a wide range of sustainability and climate change resources searchable by subject and year level.
- Cool Australia Curriculum Materials on the Cool Australia website: lesson plans and online courses mapped to relevant year levels, learning areas, general capabilities and cross-curriculum priorities.
- CSIRO Sustainable Futures Program on the CSIRO website: designed to support teachers working with years 3 to 10.
- The UNICEF World’s Largest Lesson website: teaching resources on the Sustainable Development Goals.
- The Design and Technology Teachers Association (DATTA) website: a range of design and technologies resources that focus on sustainability.
- The Geography Teachers Association of Victoria (GTAV) website: specialising in geographical information.
- The Environmental Education Victoria website: a range of environmental and sustainability information.
- The School Environmental Education Directory (SEED) website: environmental resources mapped to year levels and specific topics.
- The Little Sprouts website: the Little Sprouts program offers sustainability and environmental sessions for early learning services in Melbourne.
Grant opportunities for educators
We have grants, partnerships, and other funding opportunities available for educators to support their projects. Some examples of this support include partnership projects with community gardens, aged care facilities, family health programs, and sustainability programs.
We support early learning centres and other educational organisations to implement projects and programs that benefit the Merri-bek community.
You can find out more about community grants on our Current community grants page.
TAC Community Road Safety Grant program
The Transport Accident Commission (TAC) also offers grants to support education programs for not-for-profit community groups and other community organisations, prioritising projects that support vulnerable road users (people walking, riding bicycles, and motorcycle riders).
You can find out more about the TAC Community Road Safety Grant program on the TAC website.
Early Childhood Infrastructure Funding and Grants Programs
Building Blocks is a planning and funding program run by the Victorian Government to help deliver early childhood infrastructure.
There are three Building Block Grants available for early learning providers:
- Building Blocks Grants - Capacity Building: this grants stream provides funding for projects that create additional kindergarten places for three and four-year-olds by building new infrastructure or expanding existing infrastructure.
- Building Block Grants - Improvement: this grants stream provides funding for upgrades and minor expansions to early learning facilities, or investment in IT equipment for not-for-profit, funded organisations offering a three and four-year-old kindergarten program.
- Building Blocks Grants – Inclusion: this grants stream provides funding to upgrade facilities, or purchase equipment, to provide safe and inclusive environments for children of all needs and abilities.
The Early Childhood Refurbishment and Minor Works Program improve the learning environments, condition, or character of kindergartens. Funds can be used for minor upgrades or refurbishments such as playground upgrades, roof repairs, landscaping, installing accessible ramps, fencing, kitchen or staffroom upgrades.
More information on early childhood infrastructure grants is on the School Building Victoria website. You can also contact your local Kindergarten Inclusion Advisor, Hume Merri-bek Department of Education and Training (DET) on 1300 338 691.
Supporting Information for Early Childhood Infrastructure Grants
Letter of Support from Council
All local early childhood infrastructure grant applications require a letter of support from Merri-bek City Council. To discuss this further, please contact Julie Gianfriddo, Children’s Services Liaison Officer on 9240 1111.
Our Children, Young People and Families Plan
The Children, Young People, and Families Plan 2021-2025 is a four-year plan focussed on improving health, wellbeing, and educational outcomes for children and young people.
You can find out more about the plan on the Children, Young People, and Families Plan web page or by contacting Amy Carson, Early Years Planning and Development Officer on 9240 1111.
Kindergarten Infrastructure and Services Plan (KISP)
Moreland’s Kindergarten Infrastructure and Services Plan (KISP) is currently being finalised and will detail future forecast Kindergarten supply and demand. The Merri-bek KISP will be added to this page once finalised. For more information on the KISP, contact Amy Carson, Early Years Planning and Development Officer on 9240 1111.
Research and data
The Merri-bek Early Years and Youth Data Profile details current and future population, cultural and linguistic diversity, education and employment, housing and homelessness, and health and wellbeing. In particular, the current and future population forecast and information on early childhood developmental vulnerability may be useful.
The Merri-bek Health and Wellbeing Profile is a series of briefs that explore a range of topics informed by the social determinants of health, city resilience, and liveability. You can access the Early Years and Youth Data Profile or Health and Wellbeing Profile on our City of Merri-bek profile page.
Active travel events
Getting your school involved with events is a great way to make educating children about topics fun and exciting. These events can promote lifelong habits and help to make sustainable, healthy and safe practices a part of their daily life.
Ride & Stride
The Ride & Stride program is a program run with Merri-bek primary schools to encourage more riding, striding and scooting to school. We work closely with schools to understand barriers to active travel in their local area. We run activities to get more kids and families walking and riding to and from school.
Over 2021 we piloted the program with two local schools, trialling Open Streets, e-bike trials, TagOn technology and more.
Read more about our Ride & Stride program here: https://morelandzerocarbon.org.au/travel-smart/ride-and-stride/
Walk or ride to school events
We work with schools, as well as health promotion and cycling advocacy organisations, to encourage more people to get to and from school in a physically active and environmentally sustainable way.
A few of the walk or ride to school events that you can promote at your school include:
- National Ride to School Day: a nationwide program that enables students to get physically active on their journey to school. You can find out more about this program on the Bicycle Network website.
- National Walk Safely to School Day: an annual event seeking to promote road safety, health, public transport, and the environment by encouraging primary school children to walk or commute safely to school. You can find out more about this event on the Walk safely to school day website.
- A 'Hands Up!' counts day: this is a day where you can measure the number of students riding and walking to your school and use this data to advocate for improved walking and riding in the local community. You can find out more about this program on the Bicycle Network website.
- Bicycle Network's National Ride to Work Day: a nationwide program that encourages everyday people to jump on the bike and get active on their way to work. Teachers can use this event to show their support for their school's physical and sustainable activity efforts. You can find out more about this program on the Bicycle Network website.
- VicHealth's Walk to School month: an annual initiative encouraging primary school children to walk, ride, or scoot to and from school to encourage healthy habits and make the streets around schools safer. You can find out more about this event on the Walk to School website.
We would love to hear if your school is doing something great to promote walking and riding to school. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org to update us on your efforts and share your stories.
VicRoads' Bike Ed program aims to help students aged 9 to 13 to develop the skills they need to ride safely and independently on paths and roads. The program involves a mix of practical activities conducted off-road in the school grounds and on local roads, as well as classroom activities.
Bike Ed is delivered in schools and community settings, usually by teachers. To deliver the program a teacher needs to have their Bike Ed instructor qualification.
You can find out more about this program and register for Bike Ed on the VicRoads website.