Recycling Lesson Plans for Preschool Kids & Earth Day
Earth day is a great example of helping the environment and the earth with positive changes. This theme works well as an Earth Day Theme for preschoolers as well.
For some of us, when growing up, everything went into the garbage can. It may have taken us some time to get used to remembering to put our recyclable materials into the recycle bin.
Using a fun recycling theme for kids we can teach preschool children all the facts about recycling and how it helps the earth the environment and animals. Let’s get the world recycling!
Teaching preschool children and young kids the importance of recycling is a subject we can turn into a fun school classroom and recycling activity or a theme based lesson plan activity for earth day.
Lesson Plans & Activities to Help Preschoolers to Learn To Recycle
(resources, songs, activities etc. provided at the end of the recycling theme.)
Start the week off by talking about Recycling as a morning circle-time lesson. Here are some questions you can ask the preschool or kindergarten children:
- Does anyone know what it means to recycle?
- (If some answer yes to the question above you can ask)
- Does anybody recycle at home?
- What sorts of things can we recycle?
- Do you know why we recycle?
It is a good idea to write down these questions on a large piece of paper and record the children’s answers.
Post it up in the classroom and at the end of your recycling theme or earth day activities, ask the same questions and note the difference in their answers as they become well educated in the reasons why we recycle and how/what we can recycle.
Next go over 5 main points as to why we recycle:
- Recycling protects our valuable planet.
- Recycling saves energy.
- Recycling saves clean air and clean water.
- Recycling saves landfill space.
- Recycling can save money and create jobs.
- Recycling can help the animals
Then introduce this lesson by means of a fun story book for preschool children. Some of these books can be found featured in our book of the month club.
Now the way we all recycle may vary from city to city or country to country so make sure you are teaching the rules of recycling that fit your local community.
Also learning the symbol for recycling can also be introduced at this time as well.
Once you read a book that talks about recycling or earth day, it is a good idea to talk about what you just read to make sure the children have a basic understanding of this new subject.
You don’t want to overwhelm the pre k children so after the book, you may want to stop there for the first day and just place some books in the library for the kids in the classroom to look at and maybe have some recycling pictures/symbol posted on the wall.
Read the same book as Day 1 at circle time, then do a quick review of what they learned the day before and make sure you bring in a new clean recycling bin so the children can see what it looks like.
Then talk about what items and materials you put into recycling boxes. It’s important to keep it simple as these are preschool children and they just need to know the basics at this time.
Sing a recycling song to make remembering what we recycle fun:
(sung to row your boat)
We recycle glass,
plastic, paper to..
Sort them out and bag them up,
In the box that’s blue.
(*if the recycling boxes/bins are a different color in your area, feel free to contact us and we can come up with a song for you.)
Now give the children a small task. Tell them that when they go home for the night, their job is to bring in one single item that they can recycle. Make sure you yourself bring in one of each item the next day.
Set your items on the ground in the middle of the carpet. Ask the children to set their materials with yours and everyone sit in a circle around it.
Now one by one, pick up an item, talk about what sort of material it is made of and ask them if it would go in a bag or in the box.
Note ~ paper products usually get placed in a plastic shopping bag and placed in the box, cans usually sit loose in the box, and plastic products usually get bagged in a separate bag then paper and placed in the box.
To look neat and have everything fit, place the bags inside the blue box on either side, and have the cans in between helping hold the bags up. Cardboard gets broken down and tied with twine or string and set beside the recycling box on the ground.
It would also be a good idea to talk about the importance of rinsing food out of containers so that way the box stays clean and no bugs or animals will get into the box and make a mess or spread disease.
Now as long as there are no sharp edges on the materials, reuse them by telling the children they can make their own recycled art from the materials in the recycle box. Explain that this is one way we can reuse these materials.
Provide googly eyes, pom poms, glue, scissors, sparkles, etc.
Read a different book about recycling.
Ask the children what they like to recycle.
*Set a recycle game for the children to play
*Set up dramatic play as a recycling theme
*Set up the sensory bin with different recyclable materials
*Set up a science recycle activity
Go over the questions from day one and record their answers to see any differences.
Set out the empty recycling bin in a corner of the room where it is visible to everyone but out of the way of regular routine.
Mention the children that whenever they are going to throw something out that can be recycled, to sort it in the recycling bin.
To have things ready for them, it is a good idea to put one of each item ready in the bin so the children can follow.
For example, put two bags in the bin. In one bag put a piece of paper, the other bag a plastic container, and put a can in the box in the middle of the bags. This way when the children put something in the recycle bin, they know where to put it.
Have the activities out from Day 4 so the children can have more time with them.
Keep the books in the library as long as you wish and the pictures up for a time as well. Don’t forget to display their recycle art work pieces around the room to look at.
Cut out pictures of different objects, some that can be recycled and some that cannot. Cut out the shape of a recycling box out of blue construction paper (or whatever color your city uses) and a trash can out of grey or black construction paper.
The children can sort out the items that can be recycled, and the things that cannot be.
Dramatic Play Idea for Recycling:
Set out some recycling bins with paper, plastic, and tin cans. Fill some garbage bags with light materials like crunched up news paper and tie the bags up.
Put in some work gloves, construction hats, some chairs to resemble a truck unless you have a pretend car. The children can pretend to be recycling men/women or garbage men/women.
Post pictures on the wall to help set the theme and to give them ideas on what sorts of things they can do.
Place different items that can be recycled in the sensory bin to allow the children to explore all the different recyclable materials, what they feel like, what they look like etc. Place different shapes, sizes, textures, etc.
Place all different materials on a table and provide one or two magnets. The children can see which materials get pulled by the magnet and which ones don’t. Just ensure that the metal or tin objects (and even plastic) do not have sharp edges on them. Let the children sort them out.