Activity Introduction

Quick summary: Children are introduced to recycling. Younger children use their senses to investigate different types of paper and cardboard, working to sort the paper and cardboard based on size, weight and texture. Older children are invited to consider what the word ‘recycling’ means, and think about how the recyclable objects that go into the recycling bin can be turned into new items that we need or want. They are then invited to find new ways to use recyclable objects in craft activities. 

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 printed copy of this Tree Image or source a small tree in a pot
  • A range of different types of paper and cardboard, including:
    • Newspaper
    • Blank white paper
    • Paper that has been used
    • Coloured paper
    • Coloured cardboard
    • Rippled cardboard
    • Textured paper
    • Tissue paper
    • Paper labels and tags

Ages 3 to 5

  • A range of recyclable materials such as empty boxes, containers, cans, lids, paper and cardboard, and milk cartons and bottles. Make sure all items are clean and sharp edges are covered with masking tape
  • Craft materials close by, such as tape, paint, glue etc.
  • Recycling Flashcards – Flashcards can be printed and cut in half, with questions glued to the back of the corresponding picture
  • OPTIONAL – Makedo kit (

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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