5 smiling children in school uniform standing behind a recycling box full of clean recyclable household packaging

3R’s Monitoring Activities

These four hands-on activities allow pupils to monitor how well your school’s 3Rs systems are working. The activities can be used by a teacher with a class of KS2 pupils, an Eco Co-Ordinator with a mixed age Eco Team working on a ‘Waste’ topic, or a combination of the two.

You may want to start with activity 1, then progress through activities 2, 3 and 4 in order. However each activity works well on its own, so dip in and use them to suit your school and the time you have available.

As well as engaging pupils with waste issues, these monitoring activities produce pupil-friendly data which can be used in maths teaching, shared with the rest of the school in assembly and displayed on your Eco-Schools notice-board. When repeated over time they will provide great evidence that your school is getting better at using the 3Rs. Celebrate your achievements with the whole school, and don’t forget to share your data with governors, parents or an Eco-Schools Green Flag assessor.

Children with recyclable material labels

5 smiling children in school uniform standing behind a recycling box full of clean recyclable household packaging

Activity 1 

Small group activity: check that all rooms in your school have the containers they need to reuse, recycle and compost.

Activity 2a

Class activity: conduct a recycling audit to find out if the paper in your recycling containers has been used on both sides.

Activity 2b

Class activity: record your audit results then use this spreadsheet’s pie and bar charts to inform your plan of action.

Activity 3a

Small group activity: conduct quick spot checks around school to find out if people are reusing paper before recycling it.

Activity 3b

Small group activity: use this spreadsheet to record your spot check results and analyse its charts to see change over time.

Activity 4

Small group activity: check the rubbish bins around the school for materials that should have been recycled.

Activty 5

Small group activity: School 3Rs Audit sheet

The front cover of the Garbage Barge

Garbage Barge Teaching Resources

Here Comes the Garbage Barge!

Inspired by the story of the Garbage Barge in 1987 this lesson plan brings recent history to life, with the help of the book “Here Comes The Garbage Barge”.

CAUTION: this lesson may provoke discussion of waste issues!

In 1987 a barge loaded with rubbish made the trip of a lifetime. It travelled all the way from its point of origin on Long Island, New York, USA, down the coast to North Carolina, then southwards and onwards, via Louisiana to Mexico, Belize, Florida. It eventually returned to Long Island after 9 months at sea. A book, named Here Comes the Garbage Barge, written in 2010 by Jonah Winter, conjures up the story. It is illustrated with fascinating pictures, and brought to life in a Youtube video. Follow the story with your class, and find out the differences between fact and fiction in another Youtube video. See both on our Youtube video channel here.

The Garbage Barge lesson Powerpoint

Downloadable lesson plan

Front cover of the book Here Comes the Garbage Barge

Picture of the real garbarge barge, a boat of rubbish that travelled the coastline of the eastern USA looking for somewhere to dispose of the rubbish

Close up of the real garbage barge, a boat that travelled the length of the USA to find a disposal site for its rubbish

There are a huge selection of books available that can help teach children about waste, recycling and the environment. Here we list and review some of our favourites.

Book List

Take a look at our other teaching resources too!

3 happy children in green school uniform sat at a table reading leaflets about waste and recycling

Writing Waste Poetry

We have produced some Poetry Resources to help you teach children how to write great poetry about waste. These include some hints and tips from experts, some sample lesson plans for all key stages, printable sheets of poems about waste to use in your classroom and some useful website resources and books. We are looking forward to seeing the poetry that this will help your children create, whether you are in a classroom, at home or in a home school library group.

As part of the Poetry Competition we ran in the Autumn Term in 2019 we created some resources to inspire great poetry writing. These are now available here. Waste Poetry Writing Tips (pdf) Read about our 2020 Waste Poetry Awards Ceremony here and read all our winning poems here.

3 happy children in green school uniform sat at a table reading leaflets about waste and recycling

picture showing screwed up paper and a ringbound notepad

Ideas to help write poetry about waste

It can be easier for children to write poetry if there is a format or story to frame the poem around. Have a look at our ideas below to get some inspiration.

1

Ask a River

Imagine following a piece of plastic litter in a river. What do you see? Where do you go? What kind of litter is it? Who dropped it? Think of some words and phrases that help convey the sights and sounds of the places the river passes. What about the noises the river makes as it moves? Think of some good words for the sounds. Use these to make a poem about the piece of plastic litter travelling down the river into the sea. Watch the poet Valerie Bloom read her poem, I asked the river, for inspiration.

2

Follow a rubbish truck

Imagine you are a cat watching the refuse collectors collect the recycling from everyone’s homes. What sights and sounds would you experience if you joined them on their journey through the streets and lanes of Devon? Read The Patchwork Cat by Nicola Bayley for some ideas.

3

What’s going on inside the EfW plant?

You are an alien and you land next door to the Energy from Waste plant in Exeter. Explain in your report home what is going on.

4

Turtles!

Imagine yourself as a turtle in a sea full of plastic. You are trying to find your lunch. What do you find? Devon based author Jo Earlam wrote Tuamor the Turtle to tell the story of plastic in the oceans to children around the world. This video (filmed in lockdown) shows the author reading her story.

5

Landfill in South America

You are standing on the edge of a landfill site in South America. What is it like? Watch the video for the inspiring story of an orchestra made from junk founded next to a huge landfill site in Paraguay.

Pictographic of Linear Economy (represented by a straight line), Recycling Economy (represented by a line with two circles) and Circular economy (represented by a circular line)

Circular Economy Resource Box (KS3/4)

What is a Circular Economy?


A circular economy is a substitute to a linear economy, we can keep using our resources within our system for as long as possible.

  • Reuse as many times before we discard items
  • Then recycle and regenerate products at the end of their life
  • Keeping the energy and resources within our system

Pictographic of Linear Economy (represented by a straight line), Recycling Economy (represented by a line with two circles) and Circular economy (represented by a circular line)

Resource Overview


This resource has been developed to explore how products can be used in a circular way, extend pupils’ understanding of waste issues – including their past, present and future management.

Recycling materials into new products pushes the boundaries of design and innovation, which can be used to inspire children’s own creative projects.

Collaborating with companies based in the South-West indicates local innovation occurring around us every day and possibly within short distances from your schools.

GCSE specifications in design and technology requires students to consider the materials ecological footprint, how emerging technologies consider the environment, as well as environmental, social and economic challenges which influence manufacturing of products. Overall, this resource hopes to widen pupil’s perspective of “waste” being used in product design, in order to secure a sustainable future.

Areas covered are: environment, PSHE, discussion, creative thinking, presentation skills, teamwork, circular economy learning.

Circular Economy Teaching Resources


Resource Box held by two young people



PowerPoint Presentation

Interactive PowerPoint containing information on each material within the resource box, including activities and discussion points.



Quiz Answers

Printable quiz to cement knowledge from the PowerPoint presentation and overall recycling information.




We will be distributing resource boxes to every secondary school in Devon throughout Spring term 2020. If you have any queries, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Circular Economy Quiz


Fronty cover of the What about waste Literacy resource pack

What about Waste?

Literacy packs have been developed by an experienced KS2 teacher to develop pupils’ core literacy skills while extending their understanding of waste issues. One pack is for year 3 and 4 pupils, the other for pupils in year 5 and 6. Both packs comprise of 10 clear and easy to use lesson plans and supporting documents, which address literacy objectives for KS2 pupils using the topical theme of rubbish and the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle).

What about waste? (Year 3/4)

What about wasteWhat about Waste? has been developed by an experienced KS2 teacher to develop pupils’ core literacy l skills while extending their understanding of waste issues. It comprises 10 clear and easy to use lesson plans and their supporting documents, which address literacy objectives for year 3/4 pupils using the topical theme of rubbish and the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle). Areas covered are: explanation, instruction, persuasive writing, play script writing, play script performance, poetry writing and poetry performance. What about Waste? literacy pack – year 3/4 Lesson 1 – 3Rs PowerPoint (can take a while to download) Lesson 1 – 3Rs Powerpoint (pdf)

 

What about waste? (Year 5/6)

What about wasteThis year 5/6 teaching resource comprises of 10 lesson plans and their supporting documents, which addresses literacy objectives using the topical theme of rubbish and the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle). Areas covered are: recount, instruction, explanation, persuasive writing, descriptive language, descriptive writing, poetry writing and poetry performance. What about Waste? literacy pack – year 5/6 Lesson 1 – 3Rs PowerPoint (can take a while to download) Lesson 1 – 3Rs Powerpoint as a pdf Lesson 7 – WEEE PowerPoint Lesson 7 – WEEE PowerPoint as a pdf

 

Front cover of the Material World resource pack for teachers

Material World

‘Material World’ uses Geography and Science to encourage upper KS2 pupils to explore the resources we find on our planet, how we use them and what we can do to conserve them and live in a more sustainable manner. The pack integrates:

  • exploration of materials
  • geographical investigations and case studies
  • deliberation of our ‘wants’ and ‘needs’
  • exploration of the ethics of consumerism
  • ideas for practical action

This pack consists of six lessons which are designed to run consecutively over a half term, or during a focussed topic week, culminating in a day of pupils taking action in their school or community.

Geography and Science 6 lesson teaching pack (Year 5/6)

Pupils are encouraged to explore the Earth’s resources, how we use them, and what actions we can take to live in a more sustainable manner. It focuses on textiles and plastics and the impacts these have on our environment. Material World Teaching Pack Plastics PowerPoint Plastics PowerPoint (pdf) Material World PowerPoint Material World PowerPoint (pdf) Textiles PowerPoint Textiles PowerPoint (pdf)

Preview selected pages below

 

‘Wants and Needs’ activity

Material World introduction sessionThere is a big difference between the things we ‘want’ and what we actually ‘need’ in order to survive. This 1.5 hour long activity explores everyday materials, the resources they are made from and the impact of how they are made. It can be used as part of Geography, Science and Citizenship and is part of the Material World teaching pack. Wants and Needs activity – introduction to the Material World teaching pack

3 children in school uniform using spring balance to weigh a rubbish sack

Waste Audit Activities

A Waste Audit is a brilliant way of finding out how much rubbish your school creates and what type of things you, pupils and staff are throwing in the bin. This can then help you to organise better rubbish collections for your school, and work out what type of recycling bins will work best in your classrooms, playgrounds, school grounds and staff rooms.

We can provide help and support in carrying out Waste Audits. Contact our Educators for more information.

A Waste Audit involves an initial sort of all your rubbish and recycling to get a baseline figure, then pupils can help come up with ways to improve the school system, so your school can reduce, reuse and recycle as much as possible. This Action Plan will need to be agreed with school caretaking staff and extra bins may need to be purchased (See our Fundraising pages for further ideas to raise some cash). A second audit is then taken to monitor how successful the Actions were. Waste audits can link to the curriculum in both geography and maths lessons.

Waste Audit Follow up Activity Maths Year 3

Waste Audit Follow up Activity Maths Year 4

Waste Audit Follow up Activity Maths Year 5

Waste Audit Follow up Activity Maths Year 6

Waste Audit Follow up Activity Geography KS3

Children with recyclable material labels

Lesson Plans

Material World

‘Material World’ uses Geography and Science to encourage upper KS2 pupils to explore the resources we find on our planet, how we use them and what we can do to conserve them and live in a more sustainable manner.

The pack integrates:

  • exploration of materials
  • geographical investigations and case studies
  • deliberation of our ‘wants’ and ‘needs’
  • exploration of the ethics of consumerism
  • ideas for practical action

This pack consists of six lessons which are designed to run consecutively over a half term, or during a focussed topic week, culminating in a day of pupils taking action in their school or community.


Geography and Science 6 lesson teaching pack (Year 5/6)

Pupils are encouraged to explore the Earth’s resources, how we use them, and what actions we can take to live in a more sustainable manner.

It focuses on textiles and plastics and the impacts these have on our environment.

Material World Teaching Pack

Plastics PowerPoint

Plastics PowerPoint (pdf)

Material World PowerPoint

Material World PowerPoint (pdf)

Textiles PowerPoint

Textiles PowerPoint (pdf)


Preview selected pages below

Wants and Needs activity

There is a big difference between the things we ‘want’ and what we actually ‘need’ in order to survive. This 1.5 hour long activity explores everyday materials, the resources they are made from and the impact of how they are made.

It can be used as part of Geography, Science and Citizenship and is part of the Material World teaching pack.

Wants and Needs activity – introduction to the Material World teaching pack

Literacy packs have been developed by an experienced KS2 teacher to develop pupils’ core literacy skills while extending their understanding of waste issues. One pack is for year 3 and 4 pupils, the other for pupils in year 5 and 6.

Both packs comprise of 10 clear and easy to use lesson plans and supporting documents, which address literacy objectives for KS2 pupils using the topical theme of rubbish and the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle).

What about waste? (Year 3/4)

What about wasteWhat about Waste? has been developed by an experienced KS2 teacher to develop pupils’ core literacy l skills while extending their understanding of waste issues. It comprises 10 clear and easy to use lesson plans and their supporting documents, which address literacy objectives for year 3/4 pupils using the topical theme of rubbish and the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle).

Areas covered are: explanation, instruction, persuasive writing, play script writing, play script performance, poetry writing and poetry performance.

What about Waste? literacy pack – year 3/4

Lesson 1 – 3Rs PowerPoint (can take a while to download)

Lesson 1 – 3Rs PowerPoint (pdf)


What about waste? (Year 5/6)

What about wasteThis year 5/6 teaching resource comprises of 10 lesson plans and their supporting documents, which addresses literacy objectives using the topical theme of rubbish and the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle).

Areas covered are: recount, instruction, explanation, persuasive writing, descriptive language, descriptive writing, poetry writing and poetry performance.

What about Waste? literacy pack – year 5/6

Lesson 1 – 3Rs PowerPoint (can take a while to download)

Lesson 1 – 3Rs PowerPoint as a pdf

Lesson 7 – WEEE PowerPoint

Lesson 7 – WEEE PowerPoint as a pdf


Litter Pack – information for schools

We have written a useful litter pack to help teachers and school staff organise litter picks or beach cleans and teach children about more about litter and the issues behind plastic in the oceans. The pack contains lesson plans for a series of five lessons, which could be taught as a week long topic, or one lesson a week throughout a term.

Devon County Council also has a set of child sized litter pickers that you can borrow for free. Contact lucy.mottram@devon.gov.uk for further details.

Do your bit – help Devon’s countryside and beaches stay clean! Remember to dispose of your litter correctly – every bit you pick up is one less piece of rubbish entering our environment and harming wildlife.

​Download the whole pack here:


Litter Pack: Lesson Plans and PowerPoints

Download a set of five lesson plans about litter and the plastic pollution problem, along with PowerPoints you can use to help your teaching.

Written by a fully qualified teacher especially for schools in Devon and covering several parts of the National Curriculum in KS2 Science, Geography and Art, these lessons could form part of a week long topic on litter and plastic pollution, or use them as a weekly talking point or part of a half term’s unit on Sustainability. Why not do a Beach Clean or Litter Pick with your class at the end of the topic?

Litter Pack zip


Easy Guide to doing Beach Cleans and Litter Picks with your Class

Follow our easy 10 Step Guide to Beach Cleans and Litter Picks and organise one for your class. This set of downloads includes information on how to contact landowners and beach managers and what to do with the rubbish, as well as template Risk Assessments.

This information is for school teachers in Devon and will be of limited help to anyone outside the county.

10 Easy Steps to a Beach Clean

10 Easy Steps to a Litter Pick

Hints and Tips

Beach Clean Risk Assessment (template)

Litter Pick Risk Assessment (template)

List of Beaches and Managers

What to do About the Rubbish

Template Letter to Beach Manager

Template Letter to Land Owner


What can we do?

Download this Action Sheet to distribute to children and their families outlining simple things they can do to help resolve the plastic pollution and litter problem. Everything they do can have a positive impact on their environment, both locally and worldwide.

Action Sheet

Download Literacy Lesson Plans

Here you can download lesson plans created exclusively for Devon teachers. There are so many great ways to link sustainability, waste and recycling topics with literacy. Take a look at our new Book List, a useful resource if you want to add to your school library, or find a book for your age group about waste and recycling.


Here Comes the Garbage Barge!

Teach your class about The Garbage Barge

Inspired by the story of the Garbage Barge in 1987 this lesson plan brings recent history to life, with the help of the book “Here Comes The Garbage Barge”.

CAUTION: this lesson may provoke discussion of waste issues!

In 1987 a barge loaded with rubbish made the trip of a lifetime, all the way from its point of origin on Long Island, New York, USA, down the coast to North Carolina, then southwards and onwards, via Louisiana to Mexico, Belize, Florida, returning eventually to Long Island after 9 months at sea. A book, named Here Comes the Garbage Barge, written in 2010 by Jonah Winter, conjures up the story, illustrated with fascinating pictures, and brought to life in a Youtube video. Follow the story with your class, and find out the differences between fact and fiction in another Youtube video. See both on our Youtube video channel here.

Download a Powerpoint for the lesson here and a lesson plan here.

Brilliant Rubbish Books

There are a huge selection of books available that can help teach children about waste, recycling and the environment. Here we list and review some of our favourites. These are all taken from our more comprehensive Book List. The books shown here would make lovely presents for children at Christmas, or could be used as part of a topic about waste, recycling, the 3Rs and resource management.