Keywords: paper recycling ;Grade Level: third grade (ES) ;Total Time for the Lesson: This is a unit spread over a several-week period (depending on the length of time given for the assigned project and the number of students giving presentations). I have given the unit outline, however, this lesson is for Day 1. The time for this lesson is 30-45 minutes; Setting: classroom instruction with a project to be completed at home

Materials Needed

  • straw

  • film canister

  • rubberband

  • unsharpened pencil

  • paper clip

  • small box

  • paint stirrer

  • paper

  • pencil

  • letter to parents (see attachment at end of lesson plan)

Concepts to Be Covered

  • Many items can be recycled.

  • Students can be responsible for recycling.

  • Natural resources can be conserved through recycling efforts.

Goals for the Lesson

  • The student will name and describe recyclable items.

  • The student will reuse and/or recycle items from their home into something usable.

  • The student will write a descriptive and time-order paragraph about their project.

  • The student will give an oral presentation about his/her project.

State Standards Addressed: (4.2.D) Renewable and Nonrenewable Resources; Identify By-Products and Their Use of Natural Resources; Identify Those Items That Can Be Recycled and Those That Cannot; and Identify Use of Reusable Products


DAY 1: Recycling/Reusing and Project Assignment

Methods: Exploration-Direct Instruction-Overview of Assignment

After the Project Deadline:

DAY 2: Descriptive Paragraph for Recycling Project (rough draft)

Methods: Guided/Independent Practice (paragraph structure with topic sentence)

DAY 3: Time-Order (How-To) Paragraph for Recycling Project (rough draft)

Methods: Guided/Independent Practice (paragraph structure with topic sentence; use of transition words)

DAY 4: Self-Edit, Peer-Edit, Revise, and Final Copy of Written Paper

Methods: Provide students with checklist to evaluate their writing for spelling, grammar, punctuation, and so forth.

DAY 5: Oral Presentation Instruction and Assessment Criteria

Methods: Model a poor example of public speaking (lack of volume, eye contact, information, and so on). Have the students evaluate the speech and give recommendations for improvement. Discuss the qualities of a good report and the scoring criteria that will be used in the speech assessment (volume, eye contact, introduction, description of materials, and directions for making the project--20 points each).

DAY 6+: Oral Presentations by the Students

Methods: Student presentations
To introduce the lesson, hold up one object at a time and ask the class what it is and what it is used for. Proceed with several of the items. Explain that when we see things frequently, we know what they are and their uses. However, some things have many other uses that don't automatically come to mind when we see them initially.


Tell the students that today they are going to be thinking of ways everyday items can be used in new or creative ways. They are going to be working in groups to brainstorm ways those everyday objects can be reused or recycled after they have been used for their intended purpose.

Assign the students into as many groups as you have objects. Give each group the object, a piece of paper, and a pencil. Tell the students to list as many uses as they can think of for their item. Give the groups approximately 10 minutes and then have them switch objects with another group and generate another list for the new object.

Direct Instruction

Ask the students to share some of their creative ways to reuse the items. Explain that most people would simply throw away the object once it's been used for its intended purpose. Explain that we throw away many things that can be used or reused. Tell the students they are going to complete a project to find new uses for old items.

Overview of Assignment

During the next two/three (teacher discretion) weeks, you will be required to complete a project at home. You are going to look at the items being discarded and determine how they can be made into a usable item. Ask students for any ideas they can already image. (For example, a soup can could be decorated with the comics section of a newspaper to become a pencil holder.) Inform the students that the newly created item can be something useful, something to play with, or something for decoration. The only stipulations are that

  1. the project must be completed at home, and

  2. they are not permitted to purchase anything to complete their project.

Provide the students with the date the project is due as well as the letter for parents.


The main evaluation will be on the culminating project and presentation. However, to assess this lesson: "Could the students identify multiple uses for a given object?"

Sample of Parent Letter Explaining the Project


Dear Parents,

As part of our environmental unit, the students are required to complete a project. Your child must use items that would normally be discarded or recycled at your home to make a new item. The project can be something useful, something to play with, or something for decoration. Suggested materials include newspapers, fabric, yarn, foil, cans, boxes, scraps of wood, plastic bottles, and so forth. The materials can be changed or modified in any way necessary.

The project must be completed at home and brought to school by [date]. At that time, students will be writing a paper describing their project and explaining how it was created. Following the written exercise, the students will be giving oral presentations about their projects.

Your cooperation with this project is appreciated.


Sample of Editing Checklist for Day 4

Editing Checklist for Recycling Paper

Self-Edited by :

Peer-Edited by:

  1. Does the paper have margins?

  2. Does the paper have the proper heading with a title?

  3. Are the paragraphs indented?

  4. Does each paragraph have a topic sentence?

  5. Does the descriptive paragraph list the materials that were used to complete the project?

  6. Does the descriptive paragraph include clear adjectives for each item, such as sizes, shapes, and so on?

  7. Does the time-order paragraph clearly explain how the project was created? (Would you be able to make the same thing using the directions given?)

  8. Does the time-order paragraph use transition words such as then, next, after that, later, and so on?

  9. Does each sentence begin with a capital letter and end with correct punctuation?

  10. Did the writer using good spelling?

Sample of Assessment Sheet Used for Student Presentations



Max. Earned:

Volume (20 points possible):

Eye Contact (20 points possible):

Introduction (20 points possible):

Description (20 points possible):

Directions (20 points possible):

Totals (100 points possible):



Hope Wenzel, Tyrone Elementary