Activity Introduction

Quick summary: Children explore some of the ways waste can be harmful for plants and animals in our environment. They consider how plants and animals might think and feel about waste and litter, before working together to clean up the waste. They make connections with the importance of recycling.

The ACT Container Deposit Scheme (ACT CDS) was introduced by the ACT Government in 2018 as a litter reduction initiative. Participants collect and return their eligible drink containers at an ACT CDS return point for a 10 cent refund on each. For further information about the ACT CDS, please visit

This lesson plan has been developed by Cool Australia, in collaboration with Exchange for Change, the scheme coordinator for the ACT CDS, as part of a suite of curriculum-linked resources for teachers that support schools’ participation in the scheme and enable teachers to discuss the environmental benefits of the scheme as part of their sustainability lessons.

EYLF Learning Outcome


Outcome 1:

Children have a strong sense }of identity

2. Children develop their emerging autonomy, inter-dependence, resilience and sense of agency

Outcome 2:

Children are connected with and contribute to the world

1. Children develop a sense of belonging to groups and communities and an understanding of the reciprocal rights and responsibilities necessary for active community participation

4. 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

Outcome 5:

Children are effective communicators

4. Children begin to understand how symbols and pattern systems work

This lesson is part of the wider unit of work ACT CDS School Resources.

Time required: 60 mins.

Resources required:

  • A range of waste items that vary in colour, weight, shape and texture. These could include used paper, newspaper, a small plastic tub, plastic bottle, a milk carton, and a paper bag. Make sure all items are clean and sharp edges are covered with masking tape. Alternatively, use these cards with images of recyclable and non-recyclable containers.
  • 10 cent coins play money – You will need 20-30 coins. Alternatively, cut out and use these images
  • Pot plants, leaves and branches, and stuffed animals – You are aiming to create a garden-like space.
  • Upcycled cardboard boxes or other containers to serve as bins.

Keywords: Waste, resources, reuse, recycle, recycling, materials, hands-on, investigative, ACT container deposit scheme.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

Background information

Learning goals: Children enjoy cleaning up waste from natural environments and understand how to sort that waste between recycling and landfill.


Step 1. Collect a range of different waste items that vary in colour, weight, shape and texture. For example, you could gather a tin can, a soft drink bottle, a milk carton, a juice box, a chocolate bar wrapper, a chip bag, newspaper, etc.

Make sure all waste is cleaned with soap and brushes, and sharp edges have been covered with masking tape.

Step 2. Set up your learning space to look like an outdoor park/garden setting. Add some leaves or small branches, potted plants, some blue fabric as a river or pond, and some stuffed animals.

Step 3. Print and cut out the play money.

Step 4. If you don’t already have one, prepare a bin with the label ‘ACT Container Deposit Scheme’.

Teaching Sequence

Step 1. Invite children to imagine that they are in a beautiful outdoor garden. Prompt children's thinking b

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