Activity Introduction

Quick summary: In this activity children are introduced to the ideas of packaging, waste and recycling. Younger children are asked to investigate different types of food packaging, looking at how it feels and what it is used for and which bin it should go in. Older children are asked to look more deeply at types of packaging and group these waste items according to a range of different options, including size, colour and material. Children aged 3 to 5 years old are asked to pull apart a juice box and look at all the different types of material that are used to make a juice box. Children of all ages are asked to think about how waste materials can be reused before they go into the bin.

This lesson has been developed as part of the Schools Recycle Right Challenge for Planet Ark’s National Recycling Week. Register your lesson or other activities so they can be counted towards the national achievement and to receive other free support materials.


This activity is designed to help connect children to the wonders of the natural world through sensory and play-based learning.

EYLF Learning Outcome


Outcome 2: Children are connected with and contribute to their world

3. 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

2. Children develop a range of skills and processes such as problem solving, enquiry, experimentation, hypothesising, researching and investigating

3. Children transfer and adapt what they have learned from one context to another

4. Children resource their own learning through connecting with people, place, technologies and natural and processed materials


Equipment needed: A range of waste materials, such as a soft drink can or bottle, an empty tin of beans, a small section of plastic sandwich wrap, chip bag, fruit juice box, paper bag, cardboard box, empty plastic food containers (e.g. ice-cream or margarine or yoghurt), newspaper. Ensure that all items are clean and that sharp edges are covered in masking tape. Reusing waste activities.

Supporting resources:

Other resources:

Cool Australia Presents Waste from Cool Australia on Vimeo.


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:

Recycling is one of the easiest ways of being green. All it takes is putting the right thing in the right bin. But why do it? Well, there are a number of reasons, and they're all very important.

  1. All the raw materials required to make any of the goods that we use come from resources that are finite, meaning that once they run out you won’t be able to get them back. Recycling means we can use these items over and over again.
  2. Getting the raw materials uses more energy than recycling. In the case of aluminium cans for example, making a can from recycled materials rather than from raw materials saves 95% of the energy that is used when making the can from scratch. What about paper? Sure, we can always grow more trees to make more paper, but growing more trees requires water and energy, and if trees are grown just for paper there is less water and energy for the natural environment.
  3. Recycling reduces the amount of waste going to landfill. Less waste in landfi
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Student Worksheet

Reusing waste

There are plenty of ways you can reuse waste and turn it into something new before it goes to the bin.

You're probably already turning waste into new things, like reusing scrap paper for drawing, using plastic tubs for storing art and craft materials, and using egg cartons for all sorts of things.

If you want some more ideas on how to turn trash into treasure, click here to download our reusing waste activities.

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