Activity Introduction

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


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 materials, such as food scraps (in 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 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.

Cool Australia would like to acknowledge the support of the Seedlings Early Years Education for Sustainability (EYEfS) program.


Teacher Worksheet

Background information

Waste and recycling: 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 plastic, glass, cardboard or metal, and these things can take a long time to break down in nature. If left in nature, they create waste and can harm our environment.

Recycling is one of the easiest ways of dealing with this type of waste. All it takes is putting the right thing in the right bin

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