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 60 years Visy has been striving for sustainability, reducing the amount of waste going to landfill by collecting recyclable materials and recycling them into new paper and packaging products. Click here to find out more about Visy and their innovative work in recovering and transforming recyclable materials into new products to preserve our earth’s precious resources.


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:

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

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

Topic: Sustainability, Waste.

Unit of work: Bright Sparks – Primary Mathematics.

Time required: 60 mins.

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

Resources required:

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.
  • Students will be able to place recyclables in the suitable bin when disposing of them.

Success criteria:

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

Teacher content information:

Almost everything we do in our daily lives creates waste. We can describe waste as something we no longer want or need. The food and drinks we consume, the clothes and cosmetics we wear, the transport we take, the stuff we buy, the energy we use in our homes and workplaces – all these things have waste as a part of their production.

Many of the things we use come to us wrapped in some kind of packaging. Think of the toast and jam you ate for breakfast, the tinne

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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

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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