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 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 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 waste 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.

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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