PrintOne 45 Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • discuss the meaning and applications of the three Rs--Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
  • observe effects on the environment of improper plastic bag disposal.
  • investigate how they can affect the environment in a positive way.
  • give examples and benefits of reusing, reducing, and recycling.
  • Current facts about plastic bags and the environment and a video about recycling plastic (many available online) https://www.nationalgeographic.com/
  • Copy of the book Dinosaurs to the Rescue! A Guide to Protecting Our Planet (see Bibliographical References )
  • Chart paper with two columns labeled Paper and Plastic (or a plastic bag and a paper bag to tape over the column headings).
  • Student copies of Handout One: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!
Home Connection 

Ask students to bring a variety of items from home that were destined for the trash but could be reused, recycled, or reduced. Students should be prepared to explain how each item could have been reduced, reused, or recycled as they attach it to the Slobosaurus outline (see Extension). The final product will be a large, class collage. Be sure students ask an adult's permission to bring the items to school. Teacher Note: Have a selection of reusable or recyclable items for students who are unable to bring something from home.


Draw an outline of a person. By the head, write or draw what you think of your environmental action. By the heart, draw how you feel. By the hands, write what you did. By the feet, write your next steps.



  1. Anticipatory Set: Create a two-column graph with a plastic bag at the top of one column and a paper bag taped to the top of the other column. Ask the learners: “After you purchase groceries at a store which is better for the environment – paper or plastic?”

  2. Give each learner a self-sticking note and ask them to write their name on it. Have them place their sticky notes on the plastic or paper columns on the display board. You may have students who know that using a reusable bag is the best option. If someone mentions it, add it as a third choice. Look at the data collected and have the students describe the results. Then state, “To save the planet, we must use the three Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” Check for understanding of these terms: recycle: – to make something over into a new product reuse: – to use something again reduce: – to use less of something State, “Now that we have reviewed the three Rs would anyone like to change their vote?” Allow students to make changes by moving their names from one column to another. Have a couple students describe the new data.

  3. Give each student a printout of facts about paper and plastic bags from the Internet. Have the students read the article and highlight facts they think are important. Then show the video clip.

  4. Write the words Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle on the display board. Have the students name ideas for applying the three Rs to plastic bags. Write their ideas under each word. (They may include ideas about paper bags and cloth bags.)

  5. Read aloud the book Dinosaurs to the Rescue. Stop often to discuss the difference in behavior between Slobosaurus and the other characters in the community.

  6. Ask the students to explain in what way reusing, reducing, and recycling are philanthropic acts. Review the meaning of the team philanthropy as "giving time, talent, or treasure or taking action for the common good."

  7. Discuss why it is important for the community to work together to address the problems of pollution.

  8. Ask the students to reflect on their own personal responsibility to the environment and what they can do to make a difference.

  9. Distribute copies of Handout One: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! Divide the students into groups to brainstorm more ideas for ways to put the three Rs to use at home, school, and community. Ideas may come from the book and the plastic bag discussions. Have each student write ideas on the handout.

  10. Come to a consensus on what the class will do related to the three Rs to be good stewards of the Earth and work for the good of the community.


Choose one for the whole class or allow students to choose from this list: Have students demonstrate their knowledge of conserving natural resources by writing a paragraph on why they feel plastic or paper bags are better for the environment. Allow for students to come up with alternative solutions. Have students demonstrate their knowledge of conservation by writing a pledge to change one thing in their lives in order to make a difference. (Bringing a reusable water bottle to school, not using Styrofoam containers, reusing containers for other purposes before discarding them, etc.)

Cross Curriculum 

Students promote plastic bag recycling, reusing, or NOT using through an awareness campaign.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.3 Recognize that citizens have a responsibility for the common good as defined by democratic principles.
    2. Standard DP 04. Operational Characteristics of Nonprofit Organizations
      1. Benchmark E.1 Describe how citizens organize in response to a need.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark E.13 Describe limited resources and scarcity.
      2. Benchmark E.5 Recognize the wise use of resources as <i>stewardship</i>.
      3. Benchmark E.7 Define and describe private property and common resources.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.4 Give an example of how citizens act for the common good.
      2. Benchmark E.5 Give examples of actions students can take to improve the common good and list or describe responsibilities that go with those actions.
      3. Benchmark E.6 Make a connection between fundamental democratic principles and philanthropy.