Recycle and RESPECT!

K, 1, 2

The purpose of this unit is to learn how “recycle” relates to trash and the environment.  They work together in groups to brainstorm ways that they can recycle trash and why it is important.  They learn the term philanthropist (someone who gives of their “time, talents and treasures for the common good”) and link this term to their study of trash reduction.

PrintTwo forty minute lessons

The learner will:

  • understand the concept of recycling trash and why it’s important.
  • brainstorm ways to recycle trash in their schools and homes.
  • review the term philanthropist and how it relates to this topic of recycling trash.
  • review the term “respect.”
  • use math measurements of weight (pounds/ounces and grams/kilograms).
  • participate in a school grounds clean-up.
  • use prediction skills.
  • Paul, Miranda: One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia
  • chart paper for brainstorming session
  • any object that has the three arrow recycling symbol on it
  • a notebook or paper made from recycled paper
  • classroom recycle box
  • learners journals with at least four pages (one for each of the “Four R’s”: reduce, reuse, recycle, respect) with room to both write and draw
  • plastic grocery bags to collect trash
  • scale to measure the weight of garbage collected both in pounds and kilograms
  • plastic gloves (In the interest of reducing trash, learners only need one glove for the hand that they will be using to pick up the trash.)
Home Connection 

Handout One, Lesson One: REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE Worksheet


  1. Day One

  2. Review the terms “reduce” and “reuse” from the last two days and also what it means to be a philanthropist and respect the Earth.

  3. Review their homework sheets and the ideas that they came up with together with their families for the term reuse. Add these ideas to the chart titled, “Reuse”.

  4. Anticipatory Set: Hold up the classroom recycle box and ask the learners, “Can anyone tell me what this is?”  “Can anyone tell me where these paper scraps go after they are in this box?”  Tell them that the contents are dumped into a big, school-wide recycle bin (this is the case in most schools – double check to make sure your school does it this way), and then a big truck comes to pick it all up and takes it to a recycling center. At the recycling center the old paper is chopped up into tiny bits, water and chemicals are added to clean it and then it is rolled out, pressed and dried to make new paper! [As you tell them this process, make a visual flowchart on the board to help them understand.] . Tell the learners that today they will be learning about the next R – Recycle. Recycle means to make something new from something old.

  5. Read the learners the story, One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia and discuss it as you go through to check for comprehension. This book is also available on YouTube as a read-aloud

  6. Ask learners if they have ever seen the three-arrow recycling symbol on anything. Show them an object with it and draw a big one on the board. Make sure they understand that the three arrows stand for 1) collecting items that can be recycled, 2) processing recycled items and 3) purchasing recycled items. [If time allows you can have them draw the symbols in their journals under the “recycle” heading.]

  7. Show learners a notebook or sheet of paper that has been made with recycled paper. Pass the notebook around and have them feel the paper. Ask: “Does this paper feel any different than brand new paper?”

  8. Ask: “What else they know of that can be recycled? What old (used) items can we turn into something new?” (cardboard, plastic, aluminum, tin, etc…) Hold up samples of these items. Ask the learners if any of them recycle at home. If so, what? Together make a list on chart paper under the heading “recycle” of all the items that they know of that can be recycled.

  9. Tie this in with philanthropy by discussing how Sir Johnny is a philanthropist. Does he “respect” the earth? If so, how? How is he helping the common good? Review that philanthropists are RESPECTful of our planet earth and try to reduce trash first, then reuse it then recycle it. Note: Check your city’s trash/recycle program to get a list of items that the city will take to recycle.

  10. Have learners write about recycling in their journals by making the recycling symbol of the three arrows. They can also write about what recycling means and/or what they plan to recycle.

  11. Show learners the worksheet (see Handout Two) and tell them they have a homework assignment tonight. Review the homework for day three with them.

  12. Review the Philanthropy Chant and encourage them to be philanthropists by:

    1. reducing trash
    2. reusing items before they become trash
    3. recycling products instead of throwing them away
    4. respecting our Earth
  13. Day Two:

    Review the terms “reduce”, “reuse” and “recycle” from the last three days and also what it means to be a philanthropist and respect the Earth.

  14. Review the homework sheets and add any ideas to the chart titled “Recycle” that the learners and their families came up with for the term recycle

  15. Tell the learners: Today we will be acting as philanthropists by helping to clean the playground. Ask: What will you be giving by cleaning up the school grounds: Time? Talent? And/or treasure?

  16. Give learner pairs a plastic bag and plastic gloves. Go outside to the school grounds and spend some time cleaning up the litter. Ask them to pay attention to the items that they are picking up.

  17. Once inside, have the learners wash their hands and add the plastic gloves to their trash bag.

  18. Have the learners combine their trash into one big bag and together, weigh the bag and record the weight (It would be a good idea to have a scale that also weighs in kilograms for a comparison.) on a white board or chart paper.

  19. Ask the learners if any of the items in the collective trash bag could have been recycled. Go through the bag, item by item and separate the items that could be recycled like paper, tin, some plastics (recycling plastics depends on the number on the bottom of the item and what your local recycling center will take), aluminum, cardboard, etc…

  20. Once the sorting is done, place the recycled items into your classroom recycle bin. Then take the new pile of trash and show the learners. Ask, “Do you think this trash will weigh more or less than our first measurement? How much less?” Have them predict the weight. This is also a good time to review ounces and pound conversions as well as grams and kilograms.

  21. Sing the philanthropy chant and review how the students were philanthropists today by cleaning up the school grounds.


The assessment for this lesson will be teacher observation of participation in the classroom discussions, brainstorming sessions and clean up participation. Also, credit/no credit should be given on the journal page and the homework assignment.

Cross Curriculum 

The Academic Service-Learning component for this lesson consists of a classroom clean-up of the school grounds.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define philanthropy as the giving and sharing of time, talent, or treasure intended for the common good.
    2. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.6 Explain why acting philanthropically is good for the community, state, nation, or world.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark E.3 Describe a benefit of group cooperation.
    2. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark E.5 Recognize the wise use of resources as <i>stewardship</i>.
  3. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark E.1 Provide a needed service.