Joanna K Korth
Elementary Education Teacher
 Going Green Unit
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Science & Social Studies Page

Eighty-four percent of a typical household's waste--including food scraps, yard waste, paper, cardboard, cans, and bottles--can be recycled [or reused]

Reuse Week

Grade Level: First                  
Time Needed: Multiple day lesson: 60 Minutes/Day

Standards: Wisconsin's Model Academic Standards for Social Studies

  •  A.4.8 – Indentify major changes in the local community that have been caused by human beings; discuss reasons for these changes; and explain their probably effects on the community and the environment.
  • A.4.9 – Give examples to show how scientific and technological knowledge has led to environmental changes, such as pollution prevention measures, air-conditioning, and solar heating.
  • D.4.7 – Describe how personal economic decisions, such as deciding what to buy, what to recycle, or how much to contribute to people in need, can affect the lives of people in Wisconsin, the United States, and the world.


  • KWL chart – butcher paper
  • Markers
  • Books
    • I Can Save the Earth: One Little Monster Learns to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle by Alison Inches
    • William is Going Green by James martin II
    • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle by Rozanne Lanczak Williams
    • The Three R's: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle by Nuria Roca & Rosa M. Curto
    • The Environment by Rosie Harlow & Sally Morgan
    • A Child's Introduction to The Environment  by Michael Driscoll & Professor Dennis Driscoll
  • Recycled Materials
  • Art Supplies
    • Construction paper, markers, crayons, glue, scissors, tape 
    • For the recycled art projects
  • A re-useable grocery bag and a plastic bag from Target
  • A used piece of clothing
  • A cloth napkin
  • A cleaned jar (i.e. from jelly)
  • A paper plate
  • A plastic piece of silverware
  • Clean jars or boxes for each student
  • Example "Recycled Art" Pictures – see attached
  • Recycled Art! Worksheet – see attached


  • Students will recognize the affects of population on our environment.
  • Students will identify ways to improve and help our environment in regards to Reusing.
  • Students will contribute to class discussions.
  • Students will decorate a "keepsake" jar/box
  • Students will create a piece of art using recycled materials.
  • Students will describe and write a sentence about their art project.
  • Students will share what they've learned in a creative way.


Lesson Context

  • This lesson serves as one part of a study on Going Green that will continue over the course of the school year.
  • The unit focuses on recycling, reducing, reusing, and restoring.
  • This lesson focuses on Reuse and can be placed in any order in the unit.
  • The project is intended to help students learn more about their world and ways to help the environment by examining what they can do to help.


  • This lesson serves as one part of a study on Going Green that will continue over the course of the school year.
  • Bring out the KWL chart that we have been working on throughout this unit.
  • Go over what students believe they already know about Reusing
        • This is from the introductory lesson 
  • Ask students what they want to know about Reusing  (W of KWL chart)
        • Fill in the chart
        • If needed, refer back to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle by Rozanne Lanczak Williams or The Three R's: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle by Nuria Roca & Rosa M. Curto

How we will Reduce Day

  • Ask students what some ways are that they can "Reuse"
  • Fill in the chart the "What we will do" chart
  • If possible, try expanding on students brainstormed ideas for how to Reuse
    • Ask students if anyone has seen the "Re-Useable Bags" at the grocery stores
      • Show the example
    • This way, we don't have to cut down trees to make paper bags and we don't have to add to the waste with plastic bags!
    • Ask students if anyone has noticed the "10 Ways to Reuse your Target Bag" list on the Target plastic bags
      • Show students the list and read through it
      • Ask if anyone has seen any other stores that do this
      • Why do students think this is a good thing? Or a bad thing?
  • Think about how people reuse clothing
    • Show a used sweatshirt to kids and ask how it can be reused
      • Good Will Stores
      • Hand-me-downs
  • Use cloth napkins or towels!
    • Show kids a cloth napkin and ask if they know what it is
      • Rather than using paper napkins or towels we can produce less waste by using cloth ones and washing them!
  • Use empty jars or containers to hold keepsakes!
    • Show kids a jar from jelly – what can we do with it? (Besides recycle it?)
      • How can we reuse it?
  • Not buying plastic silverware or paper plates/bowls
    • Show kids a plastic piece and a paper plate, ask what the alternative is
      • Use durable dishes and silverware and wash them
      • Less goes to the dump!
  • Talk about how the more we reuse, the less goes to the garbage dumps!

Reuse Jars and Boxes for Keepsakes (or maybe for classroom supplies)

  1. Students will each get a small box or jar to decorate
  2. Cover the tables with newspaper so that the tables do not get too messy
  3. Provide students with a multitude of art supplies to decorate their containers with
  4. Ask that they write their names on the bottom
  1. There are absolutely no guidelines for this project
    • Just that their container is being reused J

Reuse Materials: Recycled Art Project Day

  1. Challenge students to go home and ask their parents for any recycled materials or things that can be reused 
    • Send home a notice asking parents to clean out any of their cans or glass before sending the materials to school – they will be used in an art project. 
  2. After a sufficient amount of recycled materials have been collected the Reused Materials or the Recycled Art project can happen
  3. Cover all tables with newspaper or scrap paper so that the students can be a little messy
  4. The guidelines for the Art Project:
    • There are no real guidelines:
      •  Kids should be creative!
    • But, Kids must try to use at least three different types of Recycled Material
      • i.e. paper, buttons, cardboard
    • Ask students to be create and make some sort of piece of art using only recycled materials and glue/tape
    • Ask students to write a small sentence describing what they created
      • Teachers can write this if students are still struggling with writing or can write the sentence and let students copy it onto their own piece
      • Please See attached worksheet
      • This will go into their individual "book" – portfolio
  1. Once students have finished their project, they can share with the class. 
  2. Hang student artwork in the hallway for other classes to see what can be done with recycled materials – how things can be reused to make art!
    • Ask students what they want the title of their project to be

Teaching to Reuse Day

  • Ask students to brainstorm ways to share ways to reuse materials and its importance with the school.
    • Ask students to think about what they've learned in regards to reusing.
      • Record ideas in the L section of the KWL chart
      • As they create their informative presentations, they should be able to refer to their ideas.
    • What is important for the school to know?
    • How can the school reuse?
    • How can we share this knowledge with the school or with your parents?
    • What is the best way to represent this information?
      • Posters, flyers, pamphlets, commercial, announcement, etc.
  • Provide students with the resources to present their information
    • i.e. paper, construction paper, art supplies
    • Allow time for students to create their chosen mode to share what they've learned.
  • Finally, distribute the information throughout the classroom, school and/or home.



  1. Ask students what we learned about Reusing and what some ways are to reuse.
    • Refer back to the KWL chart and the "what we will do" chart
    • Add to it if you feel it is necessary
  2. Let students know that we will be continuing our "Going Green" theme and we will continue to think of ways to reuse and produce less waste in our classroom.
  3. Remind students that there are multiple books and resources around the classroom to help students learn more about Going Green to improve our environment


  • The assessment for this lesson will be both informal and formal. 
  • Informal observation of student engagement, interaction and participation in the class discussions and activities.
  • Students will be assessed on the number of Recycled Materials (3+) they used on their Art projects.
  • Students will be assessed on their ability to use words or drawings to describe their art project.
    • Do their words/drawings correlate with their project?
  • Students will be gauged on how attentive, quiet, and how well they listen to the story if it is read. 
  • Students will be assessed on their ability to understand the subject through their examples.
  • Students will be assessed on their ability to share what they've learned with the school – i.e. creating fliers, posters, etc. 


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