We Must Recycle

A. Wills
Multiple Subject Teacher

Students will use creativity to use something considered trash to create something new.

Grade Level: 2 - 4th

Subject: Environmental, Social Studies

Length of Time: About 20 Minutes

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Objectives & Outcomes

Students will learn how items can be reused instead of simply discarded.

Materials Needed

  • card stock
  • crayons, colored pencils, paint (optional)
  • clean, plastic bottles
  • scissors
  • assorted art supplies


Opening to Lesson

Ask students if they have ever recycled anything. For some this will be a daily or weekly thing, but for others this may be a foreign concept. Explain that recycling has two meanings, for most it means taking things that others may throw in the trash to go to a dump and cleaning and sorting them (glass, plastic, paper) and letting the recycling center use this stuff to make something else. The other meaning is about the same, but it means using something, like a pop bottle, to create something else, usually something useful. This is sometimes called upcycling.

Body of Lesson

  • Explain that the need to recycle is not just so plastic bottles do not end up rolling around in the landfill.
  • There are many types of recyclables that end up in landfills, but never biodegrade. Though they should be safely contained in the landfill, some trash, including recyclables, can end up out in nature. This can harm wildlife and plants that are trying to survive in the wild.
  • What would happen if a duck accidently swallowed a bottle cap? What if a fish got stuck in the plastic rings that soda comes in at the store? These things could be really dangerous to animals.
  • So today we are going to try to use ‘trash’ that could be harmful to make something functional and beautiful.
  • This is one way to recycle, or upcycle, as some say. Let’s see what we can create.


Allow students to get creative and make something unique out of the pop bottle and art supplies. Display the creations in the classroom and have an open discussion about recycling items to give them new life.

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Assessment & Evaluation

Students will create a functional or displayable item out of an empty plastic bottle. The goal is to create something that keeps the bottle from going into the trash.

Modification & Differentiation

If a child is having trouble on his/her own, allow students to work with a partner or in small group. This will allow the student to brainstorm more easily.

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