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Recycling for Kids: How to Make Recycling Fun

It’s more important than ever to adopt the ethos ‘reduce, reuse, recycle.’ For kids, learning about recycling is crucial, but there’s no reason it can’t be fun. Recycling games and activities are a great way to introduce the concept of recycling for children and to help them remember what goes in the recycling bin. Here are a few you can try, whether you’re at home or trying to teach kids about recycling in schools.


Recycling games: recycling or household waste?

Set out some newspaper, spread out some (clean!) rubbish on it, and ask your child to tell you whether each item is recyclable or not. If they’re right, they get a point. If they get enough points, they get a prize. You can make this a competitive game if you have more than one child.

If you only have one child playing, tell them before you start that they’ll have another chance to get the prize if they don’t manage it the first time. It’ll reduce frustration, teach perseverance and mean they have more of an incentive to remember what they’re being taught. If they don’t get enough points, you can play again a couple of days later.

It might be easier for your child to remember the answer if you tell them whether they’re right straight after each guess, rather than waiting until the end to reveal it. You can also tell them what each object can be recycled into to help the information stick.

For a slightly tidier (if perhaps less memorable) variant of this game, you could use pictures rather than actual rubbish, or just write out a list of items if your little one can read.


Recycling games: matching

List out some recyclable items on a piece of paper, then list out some things they can be recycled into on individual paper scraps. For example, aluminium cans can be used to make bicycles, and plastic bottles can be used to make polyester T-shirts. Your kid’s task is to decide which things can be made from which recyclables.

Again, this could be competitive (in which case you might need multiple sets of answers) or a single-player challenge.


Home recycling for kids: making a notebook

Another fun way to introduce the concept of recycling for kids is to do some recycling at home, turning your old rubbish into something brand new.

For example, try helping your child make their own notebook. Do you have a drawer full of post that you no longer need? A lot of us do, and this is a way to clear some space as well as teaching kids about recycling.


You will need:

  • Used papers, blank on one side
  • A cereal box
  • Scissors
  • A hole punch
  • Ribbon or string

Sort through your unneeded papers with your child and find as many sheets as you can that are blank on one side. They’ll probably be A4, which is a bit large for a notebook, so supervise your kid as they cut the sheets down to a sensible size. Cut two pieces of the same size out of a cardboard cereal box, to serve as the front and back covers.

Arrange the sheets so the blank sides are all facing up, and place the cardboard covers on the top and bottom of the pile, with the blank side facing outwards (so it’s easier to decorate). Have your child punch holes in the left-hand side of the stack, at the top and bottom (and optionally in the middle), then thread a piece of ribbon or string through each set of holes and tie the ends together. Ta-dah: you’ve made something together that your child can use creatively, as a notebook, a sketchpad or even a flick book!

If you want more suggestions for home recycling for kids, check out our ideas for plastic bottle crafts.

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