Early years and childcare activities

View our latest childcare activity guide below, written by our early years experts.

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Looking after our environment

Encourage children to further develop their sense of social responsibility with this small world play activity. 

Children recycling in a park

You could also plan this activity to coincide with World Environment Day.

Learning aims

  • Understanding the world around them
  • Social responsibility 
  • Personal, social and emotional development (PSED).


  • Small world toys e.g. animals
  • Sand, water, grass. 
  • Tuff Spot tray
  • World map.

Activity outline

  • Set up a small world activity with a particular environment in mind e.g. the rain forest, arctic, farm, mountains – use your imagination (and of course Pinterest!)
  • Find books at the local library to use alongside this play area
    • Take the children with you to look for the books
    • You could read the books with the children at the library
  • Play alongside the children at the Tuff Spot tray
  • Talk about the different animals in the play and where they live
    • You could look for where the animals live on the world map
  • Talk about the effect that we are having on the different environments even from this far away and consider the following: 
    • Paper comes from trees and the more we use that isn’t recycled, the more trees are chopped down
    • Electricity usage also impacts on trees
    • Consider the rubbish we throw away – you could create your own recycling area in the nursery to show children what can and cannot be recycled 
    • Littering can affect the wildlife around you locally too, talk to the children about the importance of taking their litter home or putting it in the bin
  • You could go for a walk around the local park or wood and look out for litter
    • Adults could take gloves and a bag, and litter pick while out, you could provide the children with litter pickers, these ones from TTS are great (don't forget, NDNA members can get access to 10% off all order and 20% off one order, find out more here) .

Special considerations

It is important to risk assess this activity and ensure you keep children and yourself safe when you are litter picking.

  • Do not pick up any broken glass
  • Avoid any animal faeces
  • Report any needles to the local council
    • Take a picture of the location to help them find this after you have left. 

Useful links:

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