Talking Trash!

6, 7, 8

The purpose of this lesson is to introduce learners to the vocabulary and concepts related to garbage removal. 

PrintThree to Four Forty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • define the terms related to waste and waste removal.
  • illustrate the events of a “garbage” timeline.
  • discuss and come to consensus as a team.
  • recognize positive aspects of peers’ work.
  • Global Garbage Picture Dictionary (Handout One)
  • Access to On-Line Computers (or copies of information printed from designated web pages)
  • Vocabulary Game Cards (Handout Two)
  • Construction paper, cut into rectangles, to hold cards for vocabulary game
  • Clear Tape or glue stick


  1. Teacher Note: Before class, create a copy of the Vocabulary Game Cards (Handout Two) and place each vocabulary word on a 3 X 5 card. Put the matching definition on the back of the card.

    Anticipatory Set: Give the learners one minute to write as many words as they can think of that pertain to trash/garbage. Have learners volunteer their answers while you record them on the display board. Ask them if they can define each of the suggested words.

  2. Provide an opportunity for learners to look at the article posted on the following websites: recycling/solidwaste/primer.html If this site is no longer available try Energy Information Administration/Energy Kids Page; “A Primer on Solid Waste”. Have the learners read through the text of the article. (this explains hazardous waste)

  3. Distribute a copy of the Global Garbage Picture Dictionary (Handout One) and instruct the learners to define and illustrate the terms. Tell them to draw illustrations that will help them recall the definition of the term so they can use it in a class challenge activity.

  4. Place your learners into groups of 3-5 making sure each group has at least one leader.

  5. Explain to the class that you are going to play a vocabulary game using the cards. Learners are allowed to use their illustrations. Instruct them to take out their picture dictionaries and fold them so that only column 1 and 3 are visible. Teacher Note: Directions for folding picture dictionaries: Step 1: Use the line between Column One and Two to fold back Column Two and Column Three so the only column visible is Column One. Step 2: Create a fold line along the line between Column Two and Column Three, folding Column Three forward or toward the front. The learners should now be looking at Column One and Column Three, with Column Two not visible. Step 3: Secure the folds with a small piece of clear tape.)

  6. Share the following instructions with the class.

    1. One member of each group will have an opportunity to pick a card.
    2. The teacher will read the vocabulary term out loud to the class. The entire class must remain silent during this part of the game.
    3. If the learner is able to define the word on the card with no input from their group, they earn 2 points for their group. (They may use their picture dictionary to help them.) 3.If a learner is unsure of the definition, they may say “group”. At this time every group in the room may have 30-60 seconds to make sure to discuss the term amongst their group so that every group member is able to define the word.
    4. At the end of the 30-60 seconds the teacher will have the opportunity to ask any member from that group for the definition, it does not have to be the learner who said “group,” just the same team.
    5. If the learner is able to define the word after going to group they earn 1 point for their team.
    6. If that learner is unable to define the word, the teacher then goes to the next group and so on until either the word is correctly defined (for 1 point) or each group has had the opportunity to answer.
    7. If the word is not correctly defined after each group has had the opportunity to answer, the teacher reads the correct definition to the class and places the card back into the pile.
    8. Hint for Students: Be careful not to call out answers at any time during the game. If another group is trying to answer, and you give the correct answer, it will help them earn the points. If your team member is trying to answer and you give them the answer (other than during “group”), then you will eliminate your team from earning points during that round.
  7. Additional Teacher instructions:

    1. Assign a number to each group using a logical order according to their location in the room.
    2. When having a learner choose a card, place a blank card on the top of the card pile and fan the cards making sure the vocabulary word is hidden. This will eliminate learners choosing only the terms they are familiar with.
    3. Rather than having the learners pull the card from the pile, just have them touch the corner of it and the teacher pulls it out and handles the card so there is no chance of the learners reading the definition from the back of the card.)
    4. Learners remain seated and the teacher moves from group to group.
  8. Instruct learners to locate and review the article “A Primer on Solid Waste”. Have them reunite with in their “core” groups. The task of the “core” group is to create an illustrated timeline representing the changes associated with garbage. Each learner will be responsible to illustrate two events from the time line.

  9. Post the timelines in the classroom. Have learners use a gallery walk-style presentation where teams move together from timeline to timeline. Each team should use a self-stick note, for each timeline they review, to write at least one positive comment or something they learned from viewing the timeline.


The learners will be assessed on their involvement in the class work and group discussions as well as their understanding of vocabulary words and completion of their “core” group’s timeline.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.11 Identify a corporation's responsibilities to its community.
  2. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.