Activity Introduction

Quick summary: In this lesson, students will explore steps that other schools have taken to increase their recycling and reduce landfill. Students then solve mathematical problems related to the number of items recycled to refine their understanding of the four mathematical processes (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division).

This lesson is designed to provide practice for NAPLAN, the national literacy and numeracy test held in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9*. It focuses on refining student ability to identify which process is required to solve a mathematical problem.

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 apply mathematical processes to solve problems presented to them.

21st century skills:

Community EngagementEthical UnderstandingProblem Solving

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Year 3 Mathematics:

  • Apply place value to partition, rearrange and regroup numbers to at least 10,000 to assist calculations and solve problems (ACMNA053).
  • Recognise and explain the connection between addition and subtraction (ACMNA054).
  • Recall addition facts for single-digit numbers and related subtraction facts to develop increasingly efficient mental strategies for computation (ACMNA055).
  • Recall multiplication facts of two, three, five and ten and related division facts (ACMNA056).
  • Represent and solve problems involving multiplication using efficient mental and written strategies and appropriate digital technologies (ACMNA057).

Syllabus outcomes: MA2‑1WM, MA2‑2WM, MA2‑3WM, MA2‑4NA, MA2‑5NA, MA2‑6NA.

General capabilities: Numeracy.

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability OI.8.

Relevant parts of Year 3 achievement standards: Students recognise the connection between addition and subtraction and solve problems using efficient strategies for multiplication. They recall addition and multiplication facts for single-digit numbers. Students correctly count out change from financial transactions. They continue number patterns involving addition and subtraction.

Topic: Recycling, Sustainability.

Unit of work: Visy Education – Primary Mathematics.

Time required: 50 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – some students may require teacher support.

Resources required:

  • Student Worksheet (printed, one per student)
  • Device capable of presenting a video to the class.

Keywords: Sustainability, recycle, reduce, reuse, landfill, plastic, paper, cardboard, aluminium, steel, glass.

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 apply mathematical processes to solve problems presented to them.

Success criteria: Students can...

  • ... determine whether to add, subtract, multiply or divide to solve a problem.
  • ... solve simple mathematical equations.

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 our thinking about what we should do with these materials. Recycling is key to this thinking as it means we can keep returning recyclables to the recycling system to be re

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Student Worksheet


What did you do well in your maths today?

What maths skills are you going to practise more?


Did you learn anything new about recycling today?

Are you going to change anything you do because of what we learnt about recycling?

Do you think that your school recycles as much as Blue Bay Primary School?

Do you think your school could do anything differently?

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