Activity Introduction

Quick summary: Students use design thinking to guide their work in creating an upcycled cardboard design. Students identify a user and their needs and then ideate and prototype a design that can be shared with the user.

Subjects: Design and Technology.

Year Levels: 5 & 6.

Topics: Design Thinking, Recycling, Sustainability.

Teaching Time: 50 minutes.

This lesson may be used as part of a two-lesson unit on upcycling cardboard; however, both lessons can stand alone. This is lesson 2; lesson 1 can be found here.

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 material sent to landfill. 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.

21st-century skills:

Critical ThinkingEmpathyProblem FindingProblem Solving

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions:

Year 5 & 6 Design and Technology:

  • investigate needs or opportunities for designing, and the materials, components, tools, equipment and processes needed to create designed solutions (AC9TDE6P01)
  • select and use suitable materials, components, tools, equipment and techniques to safely make designed solutions (AC9TDE6P03)

Syllabus outcomes: ST3-5WT.

General capabilities: Critical and Creative Thinking, Personal and Social Capability.

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability.

Relevant parts of Year 5 & 6 achievement standards: Students explain how social, ethical, technical and sustainability considerations influence the design of solutions to meet a range of present and future needs.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – Support students in independent and group work.

Resources required:

  • A device capable of presenting a video to the class (optional)
  • Design Thinking Image
  • Sticky tape, water-based glue or other materials that can be used as an adhesive (alternatively, if you have access to any Make.Do resources these could also be useful). If possible, try to use adhesive materials that can be reused, composted or recycled
  • Student Design Workbook
  • Students should collect several large cardboard boxes each. You could also keep an eye out for packaging boxes from your school – those that come around flat-pack furniture or white goods are particularly useful. These pieces of cardboard will be used to make the final pieces
  • You will also need some smaller pieces of card (such as the cardboard you might use to make gift cards). These will be used to create the prototypes.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

Learning intentions: Students will...

  • ... understand why upcycling can improve the recycling loop
  • ... create a furniture solution to address a need identified by another student.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • ... choose and justify a design and features for a piece of furniture made from cardboard
  • … experiment with and apply construction techniques to create their piece of furniture
  • ... critically evaluate and reflect on their work.

Teacher content information: What do you do with the cardboard you no longer need? Most of us are used to putting cardboard straight into the recycling bin (go us!) so that it can be recycled and turned into new cardboard. But what if we could re-imagine the cardboard packaging that we use as a material that can be used to make art, craft, instruments, homewares and even furniture?

Thinking about how we can use an object in a completely new way is called 'upcycling'. Unlike recycling, upcycling does not break th

- or - to view worksheets

Leave your Feedback

We appreciate your feedback. Let us know what you like or don't like about this activity:

Sorry. You must be logged in to view this form.