Recycling can be a super boring concept for youngsters. They’re not at an age to fully grasp the reasons behind recycling, which is perfect because you can skip the dull lecture and play games in class instead.
Because recycling is so vital for our planet’s future, it’s important to get your kids excited about recycling and it will encourage them to help preserve the environment throughout their lives. That’s why we’ve lined up 10 fun school activities to encourage children to recycle.
- Salvage Strike Bowling: Collect 10 empty plastic bottles. Put them in the recycling bin at school before class and take them out in front of the students. Make sure your students see you wash the outside and inside, and explain why it’s more hygienic. Then grab some scrap paper from the bin for the kids to cut out and place into each bottle so they will stand up easy and look vibrant and bright. Set up the pins and give the students one shot each to knock down as many as they can with a volley ball. Put points on the board for friendly competition and go for 3 rounds. After the activity, ask the students to place the bottles in the recycling bin.
- Rubbish Relay: Gather a huge pile of old newspapers over a few weeks. Bring the class outside near the recycling bin along with the newspapers. Stand about 25m away from the bin and separate the class into teams of 5. The object of this physical class game is for the kids to grab 5 recycled newspapers at a time and sprint to recycle the newspapers and run back to tag the next team member to recycle their pile. The winning team is the first team to recycle all of their newspapers.
- Rubbish Recovery: Before class begins, hide lots of recyclable and non-recyclable items around the classroom for the children to go on a scavenger hunt. Make a list of all the items that are recyclable and a list of those that must be thrown in the regular waste bin. Give each student a piece of paper with four items on it. They must go find their four items and go back to their desk. Then they must decide which two are recyclable and which two are not. Go round each student and ask what they have decided. Open it up to the whole class to participate. Put a recycle bin and garbage bin at the front of the class so that students can throw items into their correct bins. As you near the end, the kids will have grasped which kind of items can be used again and which are just landfill.
- Recycling Relay: A cross between Rubbish Relay and Rubbish Recovery, this educational classroom game is performed in teams of 4 and requires 3 types of bin for each team: one for recycling, one for landfill or regular waste, and one for reusable items. With a pile of different items that belong in each of the bins, one member of each team must race to the pile and select an item to place in one of the bins. Teams get 1 point for waste items, 3 points for recyclable items, and 5 points for reusable items. However, the teams must be able to explain why the decided to put their items into each box after the race is over to claim their points. Can they come up with good enough reasons for keeping their reusable items? If so, then they’ll surely become true eco-warriors in the future.
- Whose Recycling Is It Anyway: A popular segment of the hit TV show, this one will test your students’ imagination skills to the limit. Hand out a prop to every student and ask them to come up with as many uses for that prop as they can. The prop in this case being an item from the recycled bin of course. This not only teaches them the value of reusing stuff instead of throwing it in landfill but also gets them thinking outside the box and looking at things from totally different perspectives.Tony Buzan, creator of Mind Maps, believes we can think of an infinite number of uses for any object. HOW? Find out from this interesting article – The Educator (pdf).
- Litter Angels: Bring the class outside to walk around the school grounds, or nearest park if you have one nearby. The children will each have a recycle bag and trash pickup stick to collect as much recyclable items as they can. Tell the class what type of items can be recycled and show them what the items are so they know beforehand what to pick up. To make it an enjoyable exercise, challenge everyone to be the winner with the heaviest bag and highest number of recycled items.
- Toilet Roll RC Racing: Set up a row of five toilet roll tubes in an obstacle course and split the class into two teams, which will stand in single file behind the row of tubes. The first two students on each team will operate a remote control car to run the course, weaving in and out around the cans like a driving obstacle course. When they get to the end of the course, the student will turn round and race their car back to the start in a straight line. The student who crossed the finish line first gets 5 points and then a point is deducted for each toilet roll knocked over. So even if you finish second, you could still be crowned champion. It’s about speed and agility. Pass the controllers onto the next in line and have another epic race.
- Recycled Art: Waste as art is not a new concept. But it will be to your young Da Vincis. You’re not expecting anything close to the egg shell chicken in the image on the right but who knows what your kids will create. For this art activity, ask the children to bring in their own items to add to the collection you bring. Prepare paints, glues, scissors, crepe paper and any other craft stationery the kids need to build their recycled sculpture. Walk around the class and ask students to explain their artwork and get an insight into their creative minds. (Image Source: Kyle Bean)
- Rubbish Music: You couldn’t ask for an easier and noisier class activity than this one. Simply hand out recyclable items to each student and they must make a musical instrument out of it. This is best performed for older kids who have some experience with a range of real musical instruments and can comfortably use scissors, glue and other stationery; otherwise you will end up with a class full of banging recycled drums!
- Junk Punks: This is the ideal set up to prepare your students for future lessons on why recycling is important. For one week, instruct your colleagues to throw as much recyclable paper, boxes and other material into the recycle bin along with a few non-recyclable goods and ask cleaning staff not to empty the bin. At the end of the week, empty the bin onto the ground outside and go through it with the children to classify the items into paper, cardboard, metal, etc. Create a vibrant chart showing the percentages of each type of recycled material and how much it saves the environment. The chart can be used to increase awareness in the school to be more proactive in recycling whenever possible.