Trash to Treasure

6, 7, 8

This lesson will help learners see the potential for reusing trash materials and research community organizations that support recycling efforts. 

Lesson Rating 
PrintThree Forty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • recycle/make reusable discarded non-perishable items.
  • create a construct of art to be exhibited in an Art Exhibit and Auction.
  • identify organizations in the community that promote recycling efforts or projects.
  • Discard items classified as reusable, recyclable from Lesson Three
  • Transparent drying glue, paper cutter, string
  • Wire (a spool of bendable wire, about the thickness of hanger wire)
  • Duct tape
  • Plastic gloves for all learners
  • Hot glue gun/sticks, markers
  • Small tools (i.e utility knife, screwdriver, hammer, pliers, wire cutter, etc.)
  • Safety glasses, paint (optional)
  • Resource books showing a variety of mosaics
  • Web Site for “Trash To Treasure Mosaics”
Home Connection 

It is anticipated that out-of-class time will be required to complete this assignment.



  1. Anticipatory Set: Ask the learners if they ever found something that was discarded and kept because it was something that they liked or felt they could make useful. (Teacher sharing of such a time when this happened for you will help cue the learners and stimulate their sharing.) Select a discarded item from among those that the learners have collected and sorted and ask, “Are there any other uses for this product?” or “If someone were to find this discarded item, how might they put it to good use?”

  2. Have the learners return to their teams assigned in Lesson Three and tell them that over the next few days they will be identifying ‘other uses’ for the recyclable and reusable trash they have already collected and eventually they will turn this trash into items to be “treasured.”

  3. Tell each group that they need to refurbish at least one or two of the collected recyclable and reusable items. They will also need to use the remaining items in the construction of an art object (i.e. 3-dimensional artifact, a mosaic, a collage, a knickknack, a wall hanging, a wind chime, a mobile, etc.) to display at a “Art Fair Exhibit” that symbolizes and communicates a “Trash to Treasure” idea. Each display must be labeled.

  4. Explain to the learners that not only will the products their group makes be displayed at an “Art Fair Exhibit,” they will also be auctioned off (silent bidding) at the close of the exhibit with all the proceeds contributed to a local non-profit organization involved in recycling.

  5. Share with the learners that they will have two additional class days to begin their discussion and to develop their plans for how they will proceed with the assignment, as well as actually work on their construction. It is anticipated that out of class time will be required to complete this assignment. Groups may choose to do one joint project, or individual members may each complete their own project, after group discussion. (For in-class work, require learners to use plastic gloves and safety glasses - if appropriate. - and encourage the same for out-of-classroom use.)

  6. Assign a small group of learners to begin to identify and research non-profit organizations in their community, state or nation that promote recycling efforts or projects.


An observation of the group discussions, as they relate to plan development and the ability of the group members to attend promptly to the assigned task form the basis of assessment for this lesson.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. 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.
    2. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Describe the task and the student role.
      2. Benchmark MS.5 Articulate and demonstrate the safety procedures that are part of the volunteer experience.