Activity Introduction

Quick summary: Children investigate the composition of objects. Younger children are invited to explore the composition of objects they are familiar with (such as toys, cushions and natural objects) by testing the size, weight, sound and feel of of these objects. Older children are invited to look at a range of waste objects, and are asked to investigate the composition of these objects, and where the materials that make these objects come from. They will then discover which bin these waste objects should go in.

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 

Collect a range of familiar objects made from different materials, such as:

  • Plastic toys of different shapes and sizes.
  • Wooden blocks.
  • Metal toys (like cars).
  • Fabric toys or objects (like cushions or towels).
  • Natural materials (like sticks, bark, pebbles or sand).

Ages 3 to 5

Collect a range of waste materials (ensuring all objects are clean and cover any sharp edges with sticky tape or masking tape):

  • Old paper and cardboard of different sizes, thicknesses and colours.
  • Plastic containers, bottles and bags of different sizes, thicknesses and colours.
  • Cans of different shapes and sizes, including old Milo cans and deodorant cans.
  • Aluminium foil.
  • Fabric scraps.
  • Natural objects, such as sticks, grass, leaves and pebbles.

Organise a set of What Is It Made From? Flashcards – Flashcards can be printed and cut in half, with questions glued to the back of the corresponding picture.

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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