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 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 apply mathematical processes to solve problems presented to them.

21st century skills:

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.

Relevant parts of Year 3 achievement standards: By the end of Year 3, 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: Sustainability, Waste.

Unit of work: Bright Sparks – Primary Mathematics.

Time required: 50 mins.

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

Resources required:

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.
  • Students can solve simple mathematical equations.

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 tinned soup you ate for lunch, the shoes you're wearing, the computer you're using, and the shampoo you washed your hair with: all these things came in packaging. This packaging is often made from

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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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