Recycling: Reduce, Recycle, Reuse

Bean Creative for PBS Kids Go PBS Interactive, Inc.
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Activity , Lesson/Lesson Plan
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.


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Students learn the importance of recycling materials in order to reduce waste. Recycling is presented as a solution to reduce the impact of humans on the environment.

Intended Audience

Educator and learner
Educational Level
  • Early Elementary
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

K-ESS3-3 Communicate solutions that will reduce the impact of humans on the land, water, air, and/or other living things in the local environment.

Clarification Statement: Examples of human impact on the land could include cutting trees to produce paper and using resources to produce bottles. Examples of solutions could include reusing paper and recycling cans and bottles.

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this performance expectation, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
This activity allows students to communicate one solution, recycling, to reduce human impact on the environment. In order to fully address this Performance Expectation the instructor will need to help students first identify the way humans impact land, water, air, and other living things and then understand the results of this impact. This lesson would be a good part of a bigger unit that explores this topic. To address this Performance Expectation fully, the instructor could utilize print media, and/or visual media to help students visualize the impact of human activity on all aspects of the environment and propose other solutions to lessen this impact.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this science and engineering practice, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
This lesson helps students connect recycling and human impact on the environment to their own lives through the products they use and the waste they create. The instructor could address the Performance Expectation more fully by having students keep track numerically of the recyclable packaging (paper, plastic, glass) they throw away in one school week (perhaps on a simple bar graph). Students could then compare their information and discuss ways to recycle and reduce their waste. This would be a good engagement activity prior to this lesson.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
The instructor should take time to help students understand why we have materials packaged the way we do - for convenience - and why making things convenient does not always impact the environment in a positive way. Building the background information as suggested in the lesson will help address this Disciplinary Core Idea more fully.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
The video explicitly shows cause and effect relationships between recycling and lack of recycling and the environment. Reinforce this concept through discussion after the video, using the questions and ideas provided at the end of the video.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: The video engages students with a meaningful phenomenon and addresses the three dimensions of the NGSS (albeit not each element fully). Although the Crosscutting Concept would be strengthened by including the effect of recycling, the video deeply address the disciplinary core idea of human impact on the environment with the Crosscutting Concept of cause and effect. The “obtaining and communicating information” part of the practice is met, however the lesson could benefit from including “evaluating information” by discussing either an alternative viewpoint, or an alternative to recycling. The performance expectation and practice can easily be met by including a guided discussion and/or writing activity for students to communicate what they have learned and their own ideas about recycling.

  • Instructional Supports: Students see what happens in real-world situations when recycling is implemented or when it is not practiced. The discussion is crucial to access and expand upon students’ background knowledge of this issue and to apply it to their immediate surroundings. The teacher can also expand students' understanding by incorporating the suggestions in the tips under each of the three dimensions listed above. Use best practice in classroom discussion techniques such as pair share or small group, to enable students of various abilities to fully engage in the activity.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: This video would serve best as an introduction to the idea of recycling or within a series of lessons about recycling. Ideally, it would be incorporated with a hands-on activity or community project. This is an information resource and does not include ideas for assessment.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: Students do not interact with technology during the video, though the instructor or student can stop at times for students to answer questions posed throughout the video.