Activity Introduction

gum-leaves-bidiversity-hero-260x300Quick summary: This activity is designed to show children where our paper and cardboard come from, and how using less paper and cardboard can use less trees. Children are asked to look at a range of products that come from trees – including paper, cardboard and wood – and to experiment with adding water to these products to see how they respond to water. By participating in this activity it is hoped that children understand that paper comes from trees and that we can help trees (and our environment) by recycling paper.

NRW Logo 2012-10-00 LgeThis lesson has been developed as part of the Schools Recycle Right Challenge for Planet Ark’s National Recycling Week. Register your lesson or other activities so they can be counted towards the national achievement and to receive other free support materials.

This activity is designed to help connect children to the wonders of the natural world through sensory and play-based learning.

EYLF Learning Outcome


Outcome 2: Children are connected with and contribute to their world

3. Children become socially responsible and show respect for the environment

Outcome 4: Children are involved and confident learners

1. Children develop dispositions for learning such as curiosity, cooperation, confidence, creativity, commitment, enthusiasm, persistence, imagination and reflexivity

2. Children develop a range of skills and processes such as problem solving, enquiry, experimentation, hypothesising, researching and investigating

Equipment needed: A range of materials made from wood, including different types of paper (newspaper, magazine paper, printing paper, coloured paper etc), cardboard (from boxes, packaging etc) and wood (different types, colours and uses).

Supporting resources:

Other resources:

Cool Australia Presents Biodiversity from Cool Australia on Vimeo.


Cool Australia would like to acknowledge the support of the Seedlings Early Years Education for Sustainability (EYEfS) program.


Teacher Worksheet

forestBackground information:

Learning goals: Children understand that paper comes from trees and that we can help trees (and our environment) by recycling paper.

Content information: Activities around recycling paper are a great way of introducing children to the concept of recycling. Once children appreciate that paper is made from trees, the connection between the products, recycling those products and the health of our environment becomes real.

But why is it important to recycle paper? Well there are a number of reasons and they're all very important:

  • Unless making paper from recycled paper, the bulk of the raw materials required for making paper come from trees. Trees are known as a finite resource, meaning that once they run out you won’t be able to get them back (although you will be able to grow more – however this requires time, energy and water). Recycling paper means we can use fewer trees.
  • Getting the raw materials from trees uses more energy than recycling. Growing trees
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