Activity Introduction

Quick summary: Children investigate why we have different types of bins for our waste and recyclables. Younger children are invited to view a range of familiar objects, including waste and recyclables, and to decide which of these belong in the bin. Older children will sort a range of waste and recyclables into different bins, including rubbish, recycling, and compost, worm or chook bins. They then work together to create signs for these bins that show what items go into each bin.

This activity is designed to help connect children to the wonders of the natural world through sensory and play-based learning.

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.

EYLF Learning Outcome


Outcome 2: Children are connected with and contribute to their world

4. Children become socially responsible and show respect for the environment

Outcome 4: Children are involved and confident learners

1. Children develop dispositions for learning such as curiosity, cooperation, confidence, creativity, commitment, enthusiasm, persistence, imagination and reflexivity

4. Children resource their own learning through connecting with people, place, technologies, and natural and processed materials

Outcome 5: Children are effective communicators

1. Children interact verbally and non verbally with others for a range of purposes

3. Children express ideas and make meaning using a range of media


Resources required:

Ages 0 to 2 

  • A range of familiar objects, such as toys, water bottles, clean paper, cushions, books etc.
  • A range of waste and recycling materials, such as food scraps (in a sealed tub), newspapers or used paper, empty food containers (cleaned, and with sharp edges covered in masking tape), food wrappers, broken toys and books etc.
  • OPTIONAL – Litter Flashcards. Flashcards can be printed and cut in half, with questions glued to the back of the corresponding picture.

Ages 3 to 5

  • A range of waste and recycling materials, such as cans, milk cartons and bottles, glass jars and lids, old newspapers, old clothes, broken toys, and food scraps in sealed containers.
  • Litter Flashcards – Flashcards can be printed and cut in half, with questions glued to the back of the corresponding picture.
  • Art materials for making signs, such as paper, paints, crayons etc.

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.

The team at Cool Australia continually reviews and refines our Early Learning resources in line with expert advice and current educational practices.


Teacher Worksheet

Background Information

Educator 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-manufactured without requiring the extraction of natural resources from our environment: this is called 'closing the loop'. Closed-loop recycling assumes that materials will be re-manufactured over and over again, reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill and the number of natural resource

- or - to view worksheets

Leave your Feedback

We appreciate your feedback. Let us know what you like or don't like about this activity:

Sorry. You must be logged in to view this form.