Activity Introduction

Quick summary: In this lesson, students will collect data on their own recycling habits and use this to evaluate and reflect upon recycling and waste across the school.

This activity has been developed in partnership with Visy. For over 70 years Visy has been committed to finding sustainable solutions for Australia and New Zealand’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 use arrays to find the approximate amount of recycled material that could be recovered by their class each week
  • Students will understand which materials can be recycled.

21st century skills: 

CommunicatingCommunity EngagementCreative ThinkingCritical ThinkingGlobal CitizenshipTeam Work

 Curriculum Mapping

To view our Australian Curriculum alignment click here

To view our NZ Curriculum alignment click here

Topic: Recycling, Sustainability.

Unit of work: Visy Education – Primary Mathematics.

Time required: 60 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Low – teacher will model process explicitly before students complete task.

Resources required:

  • Device capable of presenting a video to the class
  • Student Worksheet (printed, one per student)
  • Class rubbish bin
  • Tongs and/or latex-free gloves (for each student)
  • Recycling Guidelines poster – Australian version (printed, one per each group of three)
  • Recycling Guidelines poster – New Zealand version (printed, one per each group of three)
  • Magnetic counters/tiles or regular counters/tiles and blu-tac.

Keywords: Materials, recycling, plastic, firm plastic, soft plastic, cardboard, paper, steel, aluminium, environment.

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 use arrays to find the approximate amount of recycled material that could be recovered by their class each week
  • ... understand which materials items can be recycled.

Success criteria: Students can...

  • ... collect one day’s data then use an array to predict a weekly total
  • ... collect data about the recyclables that are in the class bin
  • ... use the data found to work out how many recyclables could be going to landfill
  • ... name the five main groups of recyclable materials (paper and cardboard, aluminium, steel, plastic 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-imagi

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Student Worksheet

Bin Audit Record

Type of recyclable material: Number of items found:
Paper and Cardboard


Recycling Arrays

A Year 2 class has counted the number of recyclable items they found in their classroom rubbish bin:

Type of recyclable material: Number of items found:
Plastic 1
Paper and Cardboard 6
Glass 4
Aluminium 10
Steel 5
Total: 26 items

Task instructions:

1. Choose one group of recyclables from the example above.
2. Make an array using counters to estimate how many of that item you would find in one week.
3. Draw an array in the space below.
4. Fill in the gaps in the equations underneath your array drawing.













Five groups of  _____________ makes _____________


5 x _______ = _____________


Use the data collected in

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