Activity Introduction

Quick summary: In this lesson, students will practise data collection and graphing while auditing the recycling habits of their class. They will consider the importance of recycling, the items that can be recycled and discuss ways to improve the recycling habits of the class.

This activity has been developed in partnership with Visy. For over 70 years Visy has been committed to finding sustainable solutions for Australia’s recyclables and helping to reduce local landfills. Visy collects, receives and sorts paper, cardboard, glass, plastics, steel and aluminium from households, businesses and schools with the purpose of reusing these products in the re-manufacture of new packaging products.

Learning intentions:

  • Students will be able to create a column graph using data they have collected
  • Students will be able to place recyclables in a suitable bin when disposing of them.

21st century skills:

CommunicatingCommunity EngagementCreative ThinkingCritical ThinkingGlobal CitizenshipTeam Work

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Year 1 Mathematics:

  • Represent data with objects and drawings where one object or drawing represents one data value. Describe the displays (ACMSP263).

Syllabus outcomes: MA1‑1WM, MA1‑3WM, MA1-17SP

General capabilities: Numeracy, Critical and Creative Thinking

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability OI.8

Relevant parts of Year 1 achievement standards: Students collect data by asking questions, draw simple data displays and make simple inferences.

Topic: Recycling, Sustainability.

Unit of work: Visy Education – Primary Mathematics.

Time required: 60 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – some students may require support converting data into a graph.

Resources required:

  • Device capable of presenting video to the class
  • Classroom bins
  • Empty bin or tub to transfer items into while collecting data
  • Four pairs of tongs
  • Student Worksheet (printed, one per student)
  • Recycling Guidelines poster (one set to display)
  • Data graphing sheet (to display).

Keywords: Recycling, glass, aluminium, steel, plastic, paper, cardboard, landfill, environment, global warming, tally, graph, data.

The information and statistics included in this document are approximate and have been simplified for educational/illustrative purposes. They should not be relied upon for any other purpose.

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


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

Learning intentions: Students will...

  • ... be able to create a column graph using data they have collected
  • ... be able to place recyclables in a suitable bin when disposing of them.

Success criteria: Students can...

  • ... use tally marks to record data.
  • ... create a column graph and colour in the correct number of squares to show their data.
  • ... name what the five recycling groups are (paper and cardboard, steel, tin, plastics and glass).

Teacher content information: What do you do with the things you no longer want or need, such as the packaging from the food you buy or bottles you drink from? Many of us have grown up thinking of this as 'waste', as something we need to just get rid of. But what if we think of these materials as a resource for creating new and useful products? What if we can re-imagine how we think about and use these materials?

Thinking of waste items as the resources required for creating new products is a great way to shift

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Student Worksheet

Recyclables Data Collection

As your teacher sorts through the bin, record how many of each recyclable you find.

Paper and Cardboard
Aluminium and steel

Only record plastics that can be recycled through your council collections!


Which recyclable did you find the most of?

Which recyclable did you find the least of?

Do you think your class should change what it does with its recyclables?


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