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Grades 4-6


Students are introduced to the need to save natural resources. Through inquiry, hands-on activities, and problem solving, students will increase their understanding of solid waste materials and the need to reduce, recycle, and reuse. Students will analyze given data on solid waste and create circle graphs.
ITV Series
Take a Look, "Waste"

Recycling is Fun!
Learning Objectives
Students will be able to:
Each student or small group of students:
Each student:
Each classroom:
Pre-Viewing Activities
1. To help students gain an appreciation for the earth we live on, pass each student an apple and a butter knife. Explain to the class that today they will be learning a valuable lesson about earth. Tell them that the apple is going to
represent our earth.
2. Instruct students to cut their apple into fourths. Explain that three of the pieces would represent the oceans of the world. One-fourth of the apple would represent earth's land area. The core of the apple represents the core of the earth.
3. Cut the earth's land area (1/4 of the apple) in half. You are now showing 1/8 of the apple. People cannot live in this area because it is polar, desert, swamp, rocky mountain, etc. The other 1/8 would represent where people live.
4. Cut the 1/8 piece (representing where people live) into four pieces. Three of the four 1/32 would represent areas where it is too rocky, cold, hot, poor soil, buildings, roads, etc.
5. Hold up the last 1/32 piece. Carefully cut the peeling off. The peeling would represent an area from the surface of the earth to a depth of 5 feet where there is soil that we can grow food.
6. Lead a discussion with the class about the comparatively small area we have on earth where food can be grown. Compare this to the number of people on the earth that have to be fed.
7. Allow students to predict what they think could happen if this area failed to provide for all of earth's inhabitants. Ask students what they are doing to care for this area. Is there a need to be concerned about this area?
Focus Viewing
It is important to give students a specific responsibility while viewing. Knowing what they are expected to learn allows them to focus on specific information and concepts while watching the tape(s). Provide each student with three cut-outs of the letter "R". Explain that during the video they will be introduced to three important words that begin with the letter "R". Their task while viewing is to identify these three "R" words. Each "R" word should be written on one of the cut-outs. The letters will be used to decorate a bulletin board.
Viewing Activities

1. START the video "Recycling is Fun" at the beginning where students are on a school playground. PAUSE the video when the boy says, "Hey, don't do that." Ask students to share some possible reasons why the young boy would not want the girl to throw her can into the garbage. Ask students if they have any predictions about where the can will eventually end up? After they have shared responses, RESUME the video to see if their predictions are accurate.

2. PAUSE the video at, "This dump is actually a landfill". To assess students prior knowledge, ask them to define a landfill. Ask students to focus on the upcoming definition to see if their information was correct. RESUME the video.

3. PAUSE the video when the children are introduced to Uncle Mike. Alert students to listen for how much garbage comes to the landfill each day. RESUME video while the children learn about the amount of garbage coming to the dump. PAUSE the video and check student comprehension. RESUME video.

4. PAUSE after "..then we'll use up all of our natural resources and nobody wants that to happen." Check for understanding by asking the class why planet earth is in trouble. RESUME video.

5. PAUSE the video at "We collected different things from our homes and headed for our local recycling center." Ask the class what types of things the children might be taking to the recycling center. RESUME video. Play to where the three children are leaving the grocery store. STOP the video.

6. Review with the class the three "R's" from the first video. Also review that people living in cities have garbage collected by a dump truck. Explain that people in small communities may not have a dump truck available to them. In the next video we will visit with a lady from a small community who has to take care of her own garbage.

7. START the video where the lady is putting sacks of garbage into her van. PLAY until Jeffrey asks, "What happens to it after they bury it?" PAUSE the video. Elicit responses from the class. Help them conclude that some trash decays. RESUME video.

8. PAUSE when Jeffrey says, "Garbage sure is complicated. Why don't we just burn it all?" Ask the class if they have an answer to that question. Have students predict what happens when garbage is burned. RESUME video to validate responses. STOP when Jeffrey says, "There sure is a lot more to garbage than I thought.

9. FAST FORWARD (FF) video to where "Take A Look" is seen on the screen with a picture of glass, paper, etc. Tell the class they are going to hear a song about recycling. They are to listen to the words and then you would like them to sing it with you. RESUME video and listen to the song. REWIND video to the beginning of the song. Pass out the words to the song and have the class sing along.

10. FF to where the lady says, "Jeffrey and I are planting a reverse garden. PLAY video and watch as the reverse garden is planted. STOP the video.
Post-Viewing Activities
1. Review the three R's learned in the video from today's lesson. Instruct students to place the three R's on their desks. Have the whole class hold up each "R" as they repeat in unison, REDUCE, RECYCLE, REUSE.

2. Tell the class you would like them to experiment with a reverse garden. Give each student (or small group of students) a paper egg-carton. In different sections of the carton place the following items: glass (marble works well), peanut, piece of apple core left from previewing activity, small piece of aluminum foil, paper and plastic. Cover each item with soil. Have students predict what will happen if they bury their treasure for the next 30 days. Encourage students to take the egg carton home, bury it in their yard, and keep it wet for 30 days. You may have an area on the school ground where the experiment could be done. After 30 days, have students dig up their buried treasure to check the accuracy of their predictions.

3. Give each student a copy of the attached drawing of a dump truck. Tell them you have some data from the Environmental Protection Agency about what type of garbage fills the dump truck each day. Explain you would like each of them to analyze this data and to represent it on a circle graph.

4. Post the solid waste data sheet in the classroom. An overhead projector works well.

5. Give each student a 1" x 10" piece of graph paper. Point out that it has 50 rows. Each row on the graph paper represents 2 percent. Using a different color of crayon for each type of garbage, color in the appropriate number of rows. For example, if 17.9% of the garbage is yard waste, round it to 18% and color in 9 rows. When the correct number of rows have been colored for each garbage type, make a circle with the paper strip. Secure it with tape being careful not to overlap. Carefully trace the circle on the inside of the dump truck. Mark around as each color (garbage type) changes. Make a pencil point in the center of the circle and draw a connecting line from the center to each of the outside markings. Color the sections to correspond to the original strip of graph paper. Label your graph and indicate what each colored section represents. Display the graphs in the classroom. Use the cut-out letters "R" for a border.
Action Plan
At this point in the lesson, students should have a good understanding of solid waste and the need to conserve natural resources through reducing, recycling, and reusing. Have students brainstorm in their journals possible plans for a home conservation program. Some excellent suggestions are listed in 30 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save Energy, available at no charge through Phillips Petroleum Company. Have the students take the ideas home for discussion with family members. With parent assistance and approval, students will select an appropriate plan and enlist the help of family members. Final plans can be shared with class members. Encourage feedback from students as their plans are put into action. Share completed projects on a "Save the Earth Day."

1. Design a class bulletin board showing a lake, mountain, and/or valley. Everything should be clean and beautiful. Each day for the next few days, asks students to bring something from home that would pollute the water, earth, etc. Have them add their pollutant to the bulletin board. After a couple of days, discuss what changes have been made.

2. Give each student a plastic, six-pack ring. Have them invent a new use for the product and make a poster describing the advantages of the new product. Attach a sample of the invention to the poster.


1. Read 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do To Save The Earth by The EarthWorks Group. Have each small group of students choose one of the chapters to share with the class. Encourage the use of posters, graphs, and other visuals as teaching tools.

2. Write letters to local businesses or city, state, or federal officials and express concerns over pollution in your area.

3. Write public service announcements for television to persuade people not to litter. Share commercials with the class.

4. Have each student select and pretend that they are an item commonly found in a dump truck. Each student is to write a monologue telling the audience where they came from, the energy and materials that were used to make them, and how they could be recycled.

Social Studies:

1. Research how other countries are handling waste and pollution. Compare and contrast these findings with conservation practices in your community.

2. Invite a guest speaker to the classroom to discuss pollution in your area.

3. Research Rachel Carson. Write a report about why she is called the "founder of modern ecology."

4. Take a walking field trip to a local grocery store. After receiving approval from store management, assign each small group of students an aisle. Their task is to find as many products contained in recycled materials as they can. Compare lists and date when you return to the classroom.


1. Inventory the waste produced by your classroom, cafeteria and other school areas. What is being recycled? What disposable materials could be replaced by something reusable? (Glass jars could replace plastic or styrofoam containers; wax paper bags could replace plastic; cloth rags could replace paper towels.)


Don't throw it out, recycle

Don't throw it out, recycle

Take a bottle to the depot stop

After you've washed it and taken off the top, recycle.

Don't throw it out, recycle

Don't throw it out, recycle

Gather tins and cans of pop

They'll be recycled in a metal shop, recycle.

Don't throw it out, recycle

Don't throw it out, recycle

Collect the papers instead of littering

Wrap them in a bundle and tie them with a string,

Recycle, recycle.

An Average Truck-load of Waste in the United States
Solid Waste Data Sheet
Yard wastes 17.9%
Paper and paper products 37.6%
Metals 8.3%
Food wastes 6.7%
Glass 6.7%
Plastics 8.3%
Other 14.6%

Source: Environmental Protection Agency

Master Teachers: Rebecca Hunt

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