Smart schools

Learning through experience is at the foundation of helping children to care for their environment and understand the impact they have. We support schools, pre-schools, day care centres and other learning institutions through a range of programs and rebates.

Register now for our quarterly Smart Schools enews and receive the latest on sustainability education, rebates, resources and more.

If you have questions or suggestions, please email the Sustainability team.

Teacher resources

One of the best ways to stay informed and find out about great ideas to grow your programs, is to talk to like-minded people in your community. 

Join a local network

The following bring like-minded teachers and educators together around sustainability:

Network for Environment & Sustainability Teachers Hornsby/Ku-ring-gai (NEST) – Teachers from across Sydney are welcome to join. 

Sustainable Schools



Envirotube is Council's own environment, sustainability and wildlife channel. 

Gibberagong Environmental Education Centre has it's own educational Youtube Channel.


Sustainability in Schools helps you build a case for sustainability in your school. 

Cool Australia has over 12,000 free lessons.

NSW Government provides a range of lesson plans and resources.

Indigenous Australia

Ku-ring-gai Aboriginal Heritage explores our Indigenous history and how you can get students actively involved.

NSW Government 

Indigenous Weather Knowledge

Share the knowledge passed down through countless generations by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with your children. Explore our local D’harawal Country and language with the Indigenous Weather Knowledge Calendar. It shares the behavior of native wildlife and plants in different seasons and how this guides the eating and living habits of local people.


The Biodiversity Conservation Trust website is improving the understanding, appreciation and sharing of knowledge when it comes to how to protect our vulnerable plants and animal species. They have resources for primary and secondary schools. Including maps, colouring-in, facts sheets, online games and videos to use in the classroom.

Nature play

Nature play supports teachers and parents to get children outdoors and observe nature at work. 

Bush excursions

Schools excursions at the Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden provide curriculum-based bushwalks, workshops and nature investigation for students of all ages.

Passionate about experiential learning, the rangers are keen to encourage children to discover and investigate the bush around them.

There are half and full day programs to support teachers at all stages.

Citizen Science

Get your class or community group involved in helping us spot and record our many wonderful critters.


Host a bag-making workshop

Boomerang Bags is a passionate group powered by volunteers, encouraging others to replace plastic bags with reusables.

They host regular sewing bees to make cloth bags out of recycled fabrics.

Their bags are distributed to various supermarkets and shopping centres for use across Ku-ring-gai.

To host a bag workshop at your school or community group email


Twig Boat

All you need is:

  • Long pieces of tough grass– you may need to experiment with different types
  • A selection of twigs of a similar size
  • A few fallen flowers
  • A large leaf
  1. Lay out your grass vertically underneath your twigs (6-8) which are laid horizontally together on top.
  2. Tightly wrap your grass around the twigs – this may take a few attempts. Try to keep your twigs flat and tight, as together as possible.
  3. Next, take one extra twig and slot it into the bottom of your boat to become your mast.
  4. Thread the large leaf gently by poking the mast through it in two places – this will make the sail.
  5. Add a few fallen tiny flowers for decoration and that is it
  6. Set it afloat in a paddling pool, bathtub, stream, lake, or local waterway. 

Bath bomb fizzies

Teach kids measurement and following a recipe but also an appreciation for our native flowers. These bath fizzies are all natural and perfect fun for students to take home and use at bathtime.


1 cup citric acid

1 cup bicarb soda

½ cup cornstarch

½ cup fractionated coconut oil (for an adult version you can replace with jojoba or sweet almond)

8–10 drops favorite essential oil (try calming lavender, cleansing eucalyptus or refreshing peppermint)


Place citric acid, baking soda, cornstarch, and oil in a bowl. Add essential oils of choice. Mix well with until a soft dough is formed. It should have the consistency of damp sand. If mixture is too wet, add a little more bicarb and cornstarch until consistency is correct. Add food coloring, dried herbs such as lavender flowers, or petals from the garden. Once the mixture holds together in your hand without crumbling put straight into a small muffin tin or silicone molds. Let sit 24 hours before removing, then pop out and store in airtight container for use within 2 weeks. Enjoy in a bath or put in the bottom of the shower!

Leaf rubbing

Grab some crayons or pencils, paper and a hard surface like a clipboard and you are good to go. Head outside and collect leaves of differing sizes. Come together with your students and place the leaf upside down on the clipboard with the paper on top. Draw gently over the top of the leaf, pressing onto the veins of the leaf especially. Explain the role of leaves and how the veins draw nutrients to the plant. Display in your classroom, or create bookmarks and other items.

Red Toadlet

Invite younger students to create their own native animal using origami techniques. Instructions and print out for download below.

Origami folding instructions Red Toadlet kids activity(PDF, 372KB)

Red Toadlet print on A3 paper kids activity(PDF, 340KB)

Grass Heads & Boot Pots

Gardening Australia shows us how to create quirky pots out of old boots and a 'Grass Head'.

Recycled art

Ask students to bring in bottles, boxes, bottle tops and other items to make their own ‘artworks’.

Nature bingo

Head outside into the playground or local park and give each student a nature bingo card (create your own or google and print free online).

Who can spot all of the things on their card? Choose a tall tree, a seed pod, a bush turkey and a ladybird to get your children learning about the world around them and the other wildlife and plants that live there.


Create a mini-greenhouse

Instructions here. Use recycled plastic boxes, bottles or egg cartons to grow your own seedlings. 

Bee, Ladybird or Butterfly Hotel

Create a home for your beneficial bugs and insects. A beautiful timber creation for the garden.

Make your own recycled paper

Instructions here. Recycle paper scraps, using them to create colorful handmade paper.

Annual Environment Days

Tailor your activities to specific events through the year:


World Wetlands Day


International Day of Women and Girls in Science


World Wildlife Day


Kids Schools Clean Up Day


Clean Up Australia Day


International Women's Day


International Day of Forests


World Water Day


Earth Hour


Earth Day


World Migratory Bird Day


National Volunteer Week


World Environment Day


World Oceans Day


National Reconciliation Week


Plastic Free July


National Tree Day


Threatened Species Day


National Organic Week (Composting)


International Disaster Reduction Day


Bird Week - Aussie Backyard Bird Count


National Water Week


Australian Pollinator Week


National Recycling Week




Grants and rebates

There are a range of rebates and community grants on offer.

Listed below are both Council supported initiatives as well as external funding opportunities.

Community rebates

These are available for Ku-ring-gai school/pre-school, day care and community education centres.

Make improvements to reduce your bills, manage your waste and educate the community. 

  • Solar my School is free, expert support provided by Council. They will assess your solar needs, cost estimates/bill savings and help with sourcing grant funding.
  • Water Smart Rebates will help you establish a water-sensitive garden (to manage stormwater run-off) and install rain water tanks or green roofs.
  • Compost Revolution provides composting and worm-farming products at a highly discounted rate. Jump online and order today.

Grants and competitions


Solar my School

We are making it easier for your primary or secondary school to reduce your energy bills, educate students and reduce your carbon footprint with solar power. At a time when global scientists are demanding rapid changes to reduce carbon emissions, many schools want solar power on their roof but don’t know where to start.

Ku-ring-gai Council is partnering with the award-winning program Solar my School to provide free of charge:

  • Independent assessment to recommend the best size and location for solar panels.
  • Estimate of system costs and bill savings.
  • Financial advice and help with grant funding to pay for the system.
  • Tender and contractual documentation to help select supplier and facilitate installation.
  • Presentations to school Boards.
  • Curriculum-linked solar educational resources.

Schools in Ku-ring-gai can now join over 90 Sydney schools that are already generating their own clean, green energy.


For more information please contact the Sustainability Engagement Officer via email or phone 9424 0172.

Building gardens

Create edible and native gardens with bees, composting and worm farming. Let the kids get their hands dirty and build your own veggie or flower garden. Attract native wildlife and pollinators and extend their learning in the classroom.

Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation

Find inspiration, information, professional learning and support for educational institutions.

Visit Kitchen Garden Foundation to find the tools to get your school's kitchen garden growing.



Composting and worm farming

Visit Ku-ring-gai composting and worm farming to order a discounted compost or worm farm today.

Composting is an easy, fun and an important way of reducing the volume of materials going to landfill, cutting down on greenhouse gases and returning nutrients back into the soil. Ku-ring-gai schools receive a 25% discount and free delivery of a compost bin or worm farm (including worms) by joining the Compost Revolution program.


Having troubles with your worm farm or just getting started? View tips from the experts at Kimbriki House.

Native bees

Bees are essential members of our ecological communities and their communities are under threat worldwide. These hardworking insects pollinate our gardens and food crops. Australia has over 1,500 species of native bee, and the Sydney region is home to about 200 species.

In Ku-ring-gai, the WildThings Native Bee program has been hugely successful with over 1000 hives distributed to residents. The bees are sting-less and therefore a perfect addition to your garden especially for children to learn about the bee life cycle and pollination.

There are two ways to get a hive:

  1. Apply through the annual Environmental Levy Grants in April and if successful receive a hive at no cost; or
  2. Purchase a hive at any time for a reduced rate from Ku-ring-gai Council - stocks allowing.

Waste and recycling

Waste management & recycling

Public schools in NSW are responsible for their own waste management and recycling initiatives. Guidance is provided through the NSW Government website.

Planet Ark offers support through their Schools Recycle Right Guide including conducting a waste audit with your students, finding a recycler and transporting the waste.

Please refer to our Grants & Rebates section for information on how you could apply for support to set up one of these systems in your school.

Schools Recycling Week

Planet Ark has some great tools to start your recycling or organic waste system.

Sustainable Schools Toolkit 

Cool Australia

Great ideas for primary School participation in National Recycling Week. Visit here.

Uniform Exchange

An online marketplace for second hand school uniforms, musical instruments, sports gear, textbooks and more. Visit here.

Bye Bye Plastic

Our Sustainable living pages offer a range of advice on how to inspire your school and students to reduce their plastic use.

Return & Earn

Reduce litter and earn funds for your school. Visit here.

Waste-free lunchboxes

The Planet Ark Waste-free Lunch Box Challenge is a great way to start your school’s journey to sustainability is by engaging the kids through their lunchboxes!

Sustainable Schools NSW offers guides and teacher resources.


Return and Earn


1. Donate refunds to your school

Encourage your school community to collect eligible drink containers at home and take them to a return point for a refund. The refund can then be donated to your school.

2. Become a Donation Partner

You may be able to become a Donation Partner and be featured on your local Reverse Vending Machine. As a Donation Partner, you can receive donated refunds from people returning containers.