Recycling and Resources- In Progress

Author(s): Jen

Lesson Overview

Grade level(s):

Grade 6


Biology/Life Science


Natural Resources

Vocabulary words:

Biome, recycling, composting, fossil fuel, biodegrade, re-use, renewable, energy

What you need:

Chart of recycled materials.
Recycling Word Search.
The book Just a Dream by Chris Van Allsburg
Bandanas  (Plain white or natural color, enough for one each in the class)
Fabric Markers


whole class, then independently



Time needed:

The main part of the lesson will take one class period, (discussion and reading of from Just a Dream), students will likely want to work on the Biome bandannas for multiple periods.

Author Name(s): 
Learning goals/objectives for students: 

Objectives:  Students understand where different natural materials come from and how much energy is used to form them.

Getting ready: 

Gather materials for the discussion and activity.  Purchase bandanas well in advance as sometimes they are difficult to find.  You may want to have students each contribute a dollar to go toward the purchase of the bandanas, which can be purchased as Michael's Arts and Crafts or online at various sites.

Lesson Implementation / Outline


Begin by explaining to the students that today they will learn a number of natural resources that we use in our everyday lives, and where they come from and how we can conserve them.

Ask students to move up together to the front of the room, while you read from the book Just a Dream.  In the story a boy realizes that he has an effect on the future of the world in part by his action.  After finishing reading ask the students what they think the story is about.  Get answers from the students and talk about how he ended up helping the world by his actions.  At this point open the discussion up to the students to talk about what kinds of things they do at home to help protect the environment.


 As students begin to discuss recycling, show the recycling chart to the students, and discuss the natural resources that we all recycle (glass, aluminum, tin/steel, plastic, food scraps).  Ask student if they know where the materials come from and how long it takes them to bio-degrade or break down in the environment naturally.  Remind students of what materials are renewable (vs. non-renewable).  Discuss composting, and the various bins available in San Francisco for recycling.

Ask students who is in charge of taking out the garbage and recycling at home.  Begin discussing other alternatives besides recycling.  Reducing the amount of something that you use (use both side of a pieces of paper when printing), reusing materials, such as paper or plastic bags for other uses, refilling, some stores in San Francisco have refillable pump soap, shampoo etc.  Finally discuss how the choices you make about such as packaging etc. can make a difference.

Students are then told that they will get a chance to make something that can help reduce the amount of paper use, by making a reusable bandana that has many functions.  It can be used not only for your hair, or as a handkerchief, but also as a napkin, or a way to bundle up your lunch that you bring from home.  Or you can use it as a place mat.

Tell the student that they are making BIOME bandanas.  They may draw any plants and animals from their biome on their bandana (first drawing in pencil) then going over the drawing with the fabric markers.  Warn the children that the fabric markers also mark on clothing and to be careful not to get any on their clothes.  You may also want to put newspaper over students desks in case markers leak onto the desk underneath. 

Checking for student understanding: 

Check in with students on their progress.  Check by asking students clarifying questions.    Why do you think it is important conserve and recycle?  What do we call the type of process by which plants are turned into useful material for gardening?  What ways can you help protect the environment?

Wrap-up / Closure: 

After the students have worked on the project, review with the students what they learned today.  They learned about recycling, composting, where materials come from and how to reduce the amount of resources we use.  Hand out the crossword recycling homework puzzle.

Extensions and Reflections

Extensions and connections: 

Students may have already studied biomes in the classroom, in which case this is a nice extension, or you may want to begin studying biomes after this activity, since students will be thinking about the environment and there impact on it.

A class field trip to the city's recycling center might be useful/interesting. 

Weblinks and References

Standards - Grade 6

Life Sciences: 
6. Sources of energy and materials differ in amounts, distribution, usefulness, and the time required for their formation. As a basis for understanding this concept:
a. Students know the utility of energy sources is determined by factors that are involved in converting these sources to useful forms and the consequences of the conversion process.
b. Students know different natural energy and material resources, including air, soil, rocks, minerals, petroleum, fresh water, wildlife, and forests, and know how to classify them as renewable or nonrenewable.
c. Students know the natural origin of the materials used to make common objects.