Activity time: 15 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Two sets of four recycle bins (or cardboard boxes or other containers), two boxes or barrels for trash, and two bins for unsorted items
- 10-15 clean items (per team) that go in either recycle or trash bins, such as aluminum drink cans, toilet paper rolls, printer paper, newspaper, plastic bottles, yogurt containers, juice boxes, and sandwich baggies-a t least 2 items that go into each of the different bins
- Labels for the recycle bins: Aluminum (a drink can), Paper (a piece of newspaper), Plastic (a plastic water bottle), Glass (a glass jar), and a label for Trash (an empty juice box)
- Optional: Add a Compost bin. Items for the compost bin might include fresh orange peels; wood or plastic fruit, veggies, bread, or eggs; or drawings of produce
Preparation for Activity
- Designate a large, open area, preferably outdoors, for the relay race.
- Review the activity so you understand the instructions and can explain them to the children.
- Give each team 10-15 (enough for each child to have at least one turn) clean items that go in either recycle or trash bins. Make sure each team has at least 2 items that go into each of the different boxes. For the compost bin, you can use fresh orange peels, cut-off carrot tops, or wood or plastic fruit or vegetables. Place the items in a single, unsorted bin for each team.
- Place the unsorted bins at the "start" line. At the "finish" line, place two sets of 5 recycle bins (or cardboard boxes or other containers) for recycling and trash in a line with plenty of space between them. Label each with words and a picture: Aluminum (a drink can), Paper (a piece of newspaper), Plastic (a plastic water bottle), Glass (a glass jar), and Trash (a juice box).
- Optional: Add a Compost bin, or use it instead of the Glass bin.
Description of Activity
This activity familiarizes children with items that can be recycled and how to recycle them. The relay can be done inside, with sufficient space for the number of children you have.
Form two teams. If the numbers are uneven, have a volunteer from one team run an extra recycle round.
Have the teams race to get all their items into the correct bins. Start with one child from each team who picks up one item out of the unsorted bin, runs and places the item in the correct bin, and then tags the next person on their team who then takes their turn. Continue until all the items are sorted.
Have all the children on one team. Have them race the clock and try to beat their group time by doing the recycle relay several times.
At the end of each round, review the items in the bins. If there is a question about what goes into a bin, ask the team to explain why they thought the item belonged in the bin it went in. If needed, adjust the final place it goes.
Including All Participants
If any participants cannot race, use the alternative method and assign a timekeeper.