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 these objects. Older children are invited to look at a range of waste materials 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 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 

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 recyclable 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.

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

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