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Recyclezone, the site for schools, children and teachers that tells you what’s what in the world of waste! Although this site (http://www.recyclezone.org.uk/home.aspx) from England is called recyclezone, recycling is only one of the things we can do about waste. The site addresses the 3Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle. The site has a number of areas including a Fun Zone, with interactive online games, Activity Zone, where there are activities like making paper and a Teacher Zone.

Teachers might use this site as part of a recylcing / conservation unit or a follow-up to Clean Up Australia activities. It could also be used as inspiration to the SRC or the Environment Committee to plan a school based event. Some of the online waste-related games include:

  • Rubbish Challenge – Can you get rid of your rubbish?
  • Rap with Recycler – Join in with Recycler’s Rubbish Rap.
  • Is your brain full of rubbish? – Test your knowledge with our Rubbish Quiz.
  • Virtual school – Does school have to be rubbish? Find out by exploring our virtual school.
  • How much of a waster are you? – Find out if you’re a waster with our lifestyle challenge.

In the Teacher Zone, there are ideas for integration into your classroom:

  • What your school can do about waste – Practical steps that your school can take to reduce, reuse and recycle its waste.
  • Broader picture – Includes an introduction to waste and Education for Sustainable Development.
  • Waste on the web – Recommended waste related websites for use by teachers, school managers and students.
  • Teacher’s resources – A library of teachers’ resource pages from ‘wasted’, Waste Watch’s education newsletter.
  • Waste in the UK Curriculum – would have relevance for Australian Curriculum
  • Waste education publications and support – education materials and support from Waste Watch and others

The website is managed by Waste Watch, which is a leading environmental organisation promoting sustainable resource management in the UK by campaigning for all areas of society to:

  • reduce resource consumption
  • maximise resource reuse
  • increase the percentage of waste they recycle

Free interactive activities, online games and web-based puzzles are a growing segment of the internet today. Teachers must however, evaluate the appropriateness and relevance of each website for their students. Unwanted ads, incorrect content or difficulty level as well as promotion or marketing of products need to be carefully screened. Games are highly motivational for children and adults alike. It is not just that it is fun. More often, it is being given a puzzle to solve, a challenge to overcome, a score to beat or the possibility of being top of the leader board that provide many of us with a purpose for stubbornly focusing on the gaming task. The motivation is in meeting the challenge and making progress.

Prof. D Moursund, of Oregon University’s College of Education writes: In recent years, a number of educators and educational researchers have come to realize that games can be an important component of both informal and formal education. Crossword puzzles build skills in vocabulary, reasoning, spelling, and word attack. As Kerry Jones explains, correctly deciphering a crossword requires exact spelling, which for students may mean practising spelling words and dictionary skills.  Other important skills required for completing these puzzles include making inferences, evaluating choices and drawing conclusions. Puzzle solving is a much more active type of learning, and will engage students with the material more than passive types of review techniques do. Crossword puzzles also have the advantage of appealing to different learning styles. 

As technology, and in particular, Web 2.0 tools, improve and multiply, educators need to monitor the free resources available and utilize the growing number of powerful, motivating and engaging games and interactive activities on offer.

References 

Introduction to Using Games in Education: A Guide for Teachers and Parents; Dave Moursund

Teaching with Crossword Puzzles; Kerry Jones www.vocabulary.co.il.

Websites to try –

Puzzlemaker: create crosswords and word puzzles using your own word lists puzzlemaker.discoveryeducation.com/CrissCrossSetupForm.asp  

Vocabulary Can Be Fun: range of crosswords under themes. Also has 2 levels of difficulty. www.vocabulary.co.il/games2/crosswords/index.php

Online Sudoku: complete online or print out. www.puzzlechoice.com/pc/Sudoku_Puzzlex.html

Chinese Tangrams: complete online. www.apples4theteacher.com/chinese-tangrams.html  

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