For some children, recycling is a way of life. But that doesn't mean they understand why we recycle. Talking about recycling provides the opportunity for children to learn about where products come from, how they are made, and how they can be reused. Recycling is a simple way to teach them about taking care of their environment, whether it be in the classroom, at home, or outside.
There are many ways to teach children about recycling. One way is to create a recycling center for the classroom. Have the children create bins for sorting the recyclable materials. Talk to them about what is and is not recyclable and what happens to recyclables when they are taken by the recycling truck.
Children can reuse cardboard boxes for the recycling bins and make signs for the bins of paper, plastic, cans, and glass. Set up the recycling center near the trash can. Children may want to bring in some recyclable items from home. They can add their items to the recycling center in the classroom.
During the discussion about recycling you can also discuss other ways to help the environment by reducing what we use and reusing what we can.
Recycle!: A Handbook for Kids by Gail Gibbons Michael Recycle by Ellie Bethel Recycle That! by Fay Robinson Why Should I Recycle? by Jen Green Our Earth: Making Less Trash by Peggy Hock WordGirl: Earth Day Girl by Scholastic The Cleanup Surprise by Christine Looms
Additional PBS LearningMedia Resources:
What Does Recycle Mean? | Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood Daniel learns that recycling means turning something old into something new. He imagines the recycling bins singing about cleaning up bottles, paper, and cans. Teach kids what it means to recycle and help them understand the importance of cleaning up.
Sort the Recycling | Peg + Cat Peg, Cat, and Neighbor Lady Viv sort and recycle junk left behind in the field. After watching this video, kids should be more familiar with sorting and understand how important recycling is.