Recycling Lesson Plan

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Want to teach your students about recycling in a fun way? A text lesson walks them through the essentials while an in-class activity allows them to engage in recycling. Ongoing instruction is made possible with our suggestions for extensions and related lessons.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define 'recycling'
  • analyze the environmental impact of recycling
  • list commonly recycled items
  • repurpose a used item for themselves


1 to 1.5 hours


  • Rinsed empty food containers such as jars, cans, bottles, tubs, and so on
  • Used food wrappers
  • Scissors
  • Glue

Curriculum Standards


Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 5 topic or subject area.


Draw on information from multiple print or digital sources, demonstrating the ability to locate an answer to a question quickly or to solve a problem efficiently.

Key Vocabulary

  • Recycle
  • Natural resources


  • Begin by placing all of the empty containers in sight of the class.
  • Now ask the class what they see and discuss this as a class.
  • Next, ask the students to select one of the empty containers to take to their desk.
  • Now ask students to take turns reading a couple of sentences from the text lesson Recycling Lesson for Kids: Facts & Definition aloud to the class.
  • Now have the students raise their hands if they have selected a paper item. Plastic? Glass? Metal?

Discussion Questions

  • How many of the items we use each day could/should be recycled?
  • Are any of the containers in class made from recycled materials?


  • Have students design a plan to create a new and useful item from their used food container.
  • Now have them use the food wrappers, scissors, and glue to craft this new item from the old one.
  • When all students have created a new item, have them share the item with the class along with an explanation of what the item is.


  • Have students start a recycling program in the classroom with containers designated for each type of recyclable.
  • Ask students to research and report on the recycling programs that are available in the town.

Related Lessons

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