Spreading Cheer by Recycling!

K, 1, 2

The purpose of this unit is to bring together everything that we have learned into a philanthropic act.  The goal is to have students realize that they can make a difference in our world by acting as a philanthropist by taking care of the Earth by reducing, reusing, recycling and respecting our planet. 

PrintOne one-hour lesson (day one), one half-hour lesson (day two), one forty-five minute lesson (day three)

The learner will:

  • share their time and talent to create something for others.
  • reflect on the act of philanthropy through discussion and journal writing.
  • reflect on their learning experience with the “four R’s” and how they will use their new knowledge in the future.
  • Blender
  • Paper scraps
  • Optional items to add to paper (glitter, small dried flowers, threads, etc.)
  • Water
  • Measuring cup
  • Screen(s) with wooden frame (See Handout One)
  • Plastic tub
  • Old towels
  • Rolling pin
  • Old newspapers
  • Pieces of wool felt


  1. Day One Anticipatory Set: Review the “four Rs” and tell the students that one way to learn something is by teaching it. Tell them that they are going to be the teacher today. They are going to briefly explain the four R’s to another classroom of learners that have not done this unit. Invite another classroom to come in and pair your learners together with a pair of the guest learners. Give the “teachers” a few minutes to teach the guest learners what the four Rs are and why they are important.Classroom teachers should circulate around the room to make sure that students are on task.

  2. After a few minutes bring all of the learners back together as a group

  3. Tell the learners that they are going to create a project that involves both recycling and acting as a philanthropist!

  4. Show them a bunch of scraps of classroom paper and tell them that, believe it or not, they are going to create recycled paper from these old scraps!

  5. Explain to them that they will be acting as philanthropists by making cards with the recycled paper for others in their community to spread some cheer.

  6. Start to make paper by collecting paper scraps from the classroom – either from the recycling box or scrap paper from student’s desks and tubs. Focus on the fact that these are scraps that would normally be thrown away but instead we are creating something new with it.

  7. Teacher Note: The teacher should have a supply of extra paper to add to what the learners provide so that there is enough to make as much paper as needed.

  8. Have learners begin tearing the paper into about one inch (3 cm) squares. A cupful of loosely packed paper scraps makes about one standard sheet of paper. Use a variety of types of paper. Note: The more difficult the paper is to tear, the longer the fibers are in the paper. Longer fibers make stronger paper.

  9. Fill a blender with about six ounces of clean water. (177 ml) Take a handful of scraps and blend until it is in a mushy, pulp state. Add any special items (optional) like glitter, small flowers, thread, etc. but if you do this, don’t turn on the blender again. Teacher Note: Don’t make the pulp more than one part scraps to four parts water.

  10. Fill a large tub with clean water. Pour the pulp into the tub and swirl it around. The pulp should be distributed evenly throughout the water.

  11. Hold the screen with the frame on top. Dip it into the tub at an angle until it’s fully immersed, the move it back and forth until the pulp is evenly dispersed in the water and across the surface of the screen. Then pull the frame straight up out of the tub. Hold the frame above the tub until only a few drops of water remain on the screen.

  12. Turn the material in the frame onto the felt. If it sticks, gently tap the frame onto the felt. Lay another piece of felt on top of the pulp. Cover with another sheet of felt or newspapers or towels.

  13. Take a rolling pin and press down on the pile to squeeze out the extra water. This will also bind the pulp fibers together. Start at one end and roll firmly and evenly across the pile. Do this several times.Carefully remove the top layers of absorbent materials. Gently peel the sheet of paper from the felt.

  14. Set it somewhere dry and warm so that it can dry overnight.

  15. Day Two

  16. Use your recycled paper to make greeting cards for the sick and/or elderly of your community. Discuss with learners why they should share these with the sick/elderly instead of just keeping them for themselves. Why would it benefit the person receiving the card? How do you think they would feel? How do you think you will feel by giving?

  17. Review what a philanthropist is and stress that they are acting as philanthropists by making the cards. Sing the chant.

  18. Day Three

  19. Have the learners reflect on their experience this past week learning about the four R’s and the service projects of: 1) cleaning up the school grounds and 2) creating greeting cards for others in their community.

  20. Briefly discuss these ideas as a class before they write in their journals. Listed below are some idea starters.


The assessment for this lesson will be the reflection journals. Base the grade on a class rubric for journal writing.

Cross Curriculum 

The Academic Service-Learning component for this unit consists of a hands-on activity where the learners will make paper out of scraps of used paper (i.e. recycling). With this newly made 100% recycled paper, learners will make greeting cards and/or stationery for people in thecommunity. Learners will then reflect on the concepts that were covered in the unit through discussion and journal writing and share their experiences and feelings with their teacher and families.

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 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 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark E.2 Evaluate progress on the service-learning project before, during, and after the project.
      2. Benchmark E.3 Identify outcomes from the service.