Ideas that you might be able to use for the Elementary Lifestyle Project




Take exercises out of the BC-Hydro “Kinetic Connections” binders.  For more on the Kinetic Connections program see:


(I will try to find out if the printed resources are still available from BC Hydro)



As soon as you’re ready to get started send a letter of explanation home, with a place for parents to sign.  I’ll try to get an example letter posted here soon.



Energy background


Get kids to watch their meter, and record how many times it turns in one minute under the following conditions



with everything turned off (make sure that the hot tap has not been run recently so that the water heater isn’t on, make sure that electric heat isn’t on)


A few lights and the TV on


With lights and TV and after using some hot water (for laundry, dishes, shower etc) so that the water heater comes on


All of the above plus turn up the thermostat so that electrical heat comes on (if you have it)


All of the above, plus with the dryer going


Use children’s literature to illustrate energy use.  (An example is the Lorax, but there are many others, some of which might have more of an energy focus.)  Here are a number of ideas provided by Erin.




The Bubble Machine by Jean-Pierre Guillet (originally published in French, but also available in English)




Apparently there are two other books in this series by the same author that deal with environmental issues as well - The Magic Powder and Castle Chaos


Another book that has a similar theme, but has a more subtle connection to environmental change is: The King, the Mice and the Cheese, by Nancy and Eric Gurney.  Here is an on-line version that I get my Environmental Geology students to look at:




Websites (from Erin)


This one is Environmental Education for Kids - has some child-friendly info about global warming


The One Tonne Challenge Club for Kids - has online games and info about climate change


Educational links related to the One Tonne Challenge - I haven't looked at them all, but it seems there are some valuable resources here



Environmental implications of energy use


a)     Plant beans in a number of pots and treat them all differently.  e.g.:


one with no water

one with too much water (eg. have the pot constantly immersed in a larger container of water)

one with no light (e.g. a cardboard box over it)

one with only partial light (e.g. a cloth or white paper bag over it)

one with a sealed up plastic bag over it so that it can’t get air

one watered with salty water (1/4 cup of salt in a litre)

one watered with a 50:50 mixture of  water and vinegar


Check them every day for a couple of weeks to see how they make out, and record the results.


b) Talk about emissions from cars, factories, power stations etc. Show pictures of car exhaust and power station smoke stacks.  Ask the kids to think about whether these things are good or bad, and what effects they may have.


c) Ask them if it would be a good idea to have a car with its engine running in the classroom, and if not, why is it OK to have tens of thousands of car engines running in the streets of Nanaimo


d) Talk about where our water comes from and why we should be careful to conserve it.  (There is some good stuff about water supplies on central Vancouver Island on the Nanaimo Geoscape poster ( go to: and click on Our Water Supply)


e) For older kids make the link between energy use and CO2 emissions and the implications for climate change



Reducing resource consumption and waste production


a)     encourage kids to reduce their water consumption by: taking short showers, taking shallow baths, not leaving the tap running, flushing only when necessary, making sure that only full loads go into the washing machine and the dishwasher, not watering the lawn

b)     encourage kids to reduce home energy consumption by: turning off lights, turning off the TV and computer when not in use, using the TV and computer less, limiting use of hairdryers, using less hot water, turning down the heat

c)      encourage kids to drive less by: not asking for rides, walking/biking to school, doing activities in their neighbourhood, organizing a walking schoolbus,

d)     encourage kids to think about where their food is coming from, and to get their parents to choose local products wherever possible

e)     start a school compost project, keep a compost bucket in the classroom and get some kids to empty it into the school compost every day after lunch

f)        start a worm composter in the classroom

g)     establish some rules on packaged products in lunches (talk about what happens to some of the packaging that is brought, what can be recycled, what cannot)

h)      get the Power Smart team to come to your class

i)        invite someone from the Nanaimo Recycling Exchange (e.g. Deanna Dorion) to come to your class



Reporting on their progress


a)     For younger kids set up a chart where they can use symbols to record what they’ve done that’s positive and negative


For example:  they get to put a mark on the positive side if they were careful to turn off all lights on a particular day, or on the negative side if they missed some;

negative if they watched more than 1 hour of TV that day, positive if they didn’t watch any TV;

negative if they had a deep bath, or a shower longer than 5 minutes, positive if they shared the bath water with someone, or had a shower less than 3 minutes, 

negative if they got driven somewhere that they could have walked or biked  (e.g. less than 1 km), positive if they walked/biked  to a place that they normally get driven to,

negative if their lunch had any packaged foods, positive if their lunch included some fresh fruits and vegetables,

negative if they forgot to recycle something, positive if they recycled someone else’s waste


At the end of each week do a math exercise by adding all of the positives in each row and subtracting all of the negatives.  The marks can be symbols for young kids, or just Xs or numbers for older kids.


Here is an example.







































tap water






















walking/biking vs. driving











packaged food


































total:   -2  


b)     For older kids get them to keep a chart like this, but also write about their progress, how it felt for them, and what their siblings, parents, grandparents etc. thought about it, whether they thought it could make a difference, and if they plan to maintain any lifestyle changes.


c)      For younger kids especially, but maybe also for older kids too, ask their parents to answer some specific questions about whether or not this was a positive experience, how it impacted the family, whether or not they plan to maintain any of the changes.  Share some of these comments with the class.



Steven Earle, March 2006