How I Taught 3-Year-Olds to Conserve Natural Resources

Meet Drip.


This is the character I created to teach my preschool class about conserving water. Drip is made from felt and stitched onto an embroidery hoop. She was used to inspire class discussions on topics such as: 1) where water comes from, 2) how water helps us stay hydrated, clean, and safe from harmful germs, 3) water as a finite resource, 4) how all living things need fresh water to survive, and 5) the water cycle. Here is a sample of how circle time started on the afternoons that Drip joined us:

“Everyone say, ‘Hi Drip!'”

Hi Drip!

“Where does Drip live?”

In the faucet!

“What does she help us to do?”

Wash our hands! Kill germs! Keep us healthy! Fill up our cups! Drink water!

“Did we do a good job today of conserving water?”

Yeah! (Drip smiles and everyone is proud.)


No! (Drip frowns. She has a detachable felt smile that can be turned upside-down when she is sad. Frowning Drip was never used to shame individual students for forgetting to turn off the faucet.)

“What can we do better to keep Drip smiling?”

Turn off the faucet after you wash your hands! Don’t leave the water running when you brush your teeth! (This is a great opportunity to discuss ways children can avoid wasting water outside of the classroom. I know that many of my students went home and shared this information with their families.)

“Great ideas! Now we can say, ‘Turn that frown upside-down!'”

TURN THAT FROWN UPSIDE-DOWN! (Drip smiles. Everyone is giggly, proud, and ready to conserve water.)

Sometimes, to make them laugh, I would ask what happens when there is a leaky faucet and it drips ALLLLLLLLLLL night. Then I would put Drip’s smile between her eyes like angry eyebrows. The kids thought this was hilarious. And now, they’re always on the lookout for leaks!

I did the whole Drip routine about twice a week and the kids never got tired of it. I saw them reminding each other to turn off the water while pointing to where Drip hung on the classroom wall. They loved to tell visitors about who Drip was, and they were not shy about reminding other teachers not to waste water! It was so successful and well-received that I created another character to talk about conserving paper.

Meet Leafy.


Hi, Leafy!

The routine with Leafy was the same as with Drip. Leafy gave us the opportunity to talk about conserving paper at the art center, in the bathroom (knowing how much toilet paper to use is an under-appreciated skill), at the sink, at the lunch table, and beyond. I introduced him a few weeks after Drip, and the kids loved that a friend had joined her. They already understood the concepts regarding water conservation and we simply applied those same ideas to the different kinds of paper in our classroom, discussing where paper comes from, how we use it, and why trees are important for all living things.

Encouraging little environmentalists can be so crafty and fun…

Thanks Drip & Leafy!

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