America Recycles Day

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It seems that every day of the year has a special event, although most are relatively obscure. For example, these events all take place this November 15 according to the National Day Calendar:

  • National Bundt (Pan) Day
  • National Philanthropy Day
  • National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day
  • National Spicy Hermit Cookie Day
  • National Raisin Bran Cereal Day
  • America Recycles Day
  • National Support Educational Professionals Day

One of these days stands out as a perfect teaching opportunity for students of all grade levels. America Recycles Day affords us an incredible opportunity to provide authentic learning experiences with hands-on learning experiences. The America Recycles Day Organization offers many ideas for joining thousands of others across the nation in organizing a recycling event. Their toolkit includes helpful teaching tools like posters, infographics, and activities for students in K-12 and beyond.

Consider the excitement of your students as they take a deep dive into learning the facts about recycling and brainstorm ideas on how to help their community with its recycling efforts. Based on the 12 elements of authentic learning discussed in this article by Steve Revington, a recycling event may include all 12!

Let’s think about what a recycling event may look like for a typical classroom over the course of a week. Of course, adjustments need to be made based on grade levels and available resources.

Monday

  • Set up a makerspace area in your classroom for students to create using recycled materials. Makerspace.com has many ideas to get you started.
  • Stock your classroom bookshelf with books about recycling. Check out the many ideas on this list from GoodReads.
  • Find recycling resources and games at TeachersFirst.
  • Introduce the idea of America Recycles Day to students. Brainstorm what they know about recycling. Create a Padlet to share knowledge and student comments or to brainstorm ideas for a recycling event.
  • Share this list of 11 Facts About Recycling during math class. Ask students to create math problems based on these facts.
  • Use Recommunity recycling videos throughout your unit. Each video addresses a different aspect of recycling from curb to shopping cart.
  • Choose ideas from this PBS lesson plan to use throughout the week including trash bag math where students gather information on the amount of trash generated at their home throughout the week. Adapt that activity to keep track of the trash generated in your classroom during a week’s time.

Tuesday

  • Revisit your Padlet with student ideas. Narrow down selections for a recycling event. Have students use an online voting tool like Votesy for students to vote and choose the event.
  • Battle of the Bags is an excellent interactive journey to share for students to think about their choice of paper or plastic bags and the effect on the environment.
  • Begin student blogs sharing their thoughts on recycling and your recycling event. Have students add to their blog each day.

 Wednesday

  • Narrow down details of your recycling event. Invite others to attend or enlist volunteers using Sign Up Genius.
  • Make posters announcing your events, be sure to include recycling facts and information. Canva is a very easy to use tool for creating and sharing signs.
  • Invite a member of your local community to visit your class and discuss recycling.
  • Share Garbology on classroom computers. Their interactive helps students choose the proper method for disposing of garbage. During your lunch period have students take pictures of appropriate disposal of lunch waste. Share pictures on their daily blog or your class website.

Thursday

  • Share a question about recycling on Flipgrid for students to provide a video response. Be sure to include a question containing an open-ended answer that students provide for thoughtful discussion to the prompt.
  • Ask students to bring in an item from Kid at Art’s list and create an art project using the recycled object. Save the finished products for display during your recycling event.
  • Finalize and organize final details for your event. Send final reminders to invited participants.

Friday

  • Conduct your recycling event; today is the day! Be sure to have class photographers take pictures. Have other students interview attendees and record their thoughts on recycling.
  • After your event, have students individually or in groups create a multimedia wrap-up of the week’s events. Use a tool like Sway or Book Creator to share information, images, and video created by students. Include items such as favorite blog posts, pictures of recycling crafts, video from your recycling event, or a recycling poem.
  • Have students return to your class Flipgrid and respond to comments shared by fellow students to provide feedback and discussion.
  • Ask students to create an infographic sharing information learned during their recycling unit. Canva provides an excellent infographic creator. 

America Recycles Day is perfect for any classroom for use as a learning opportunity. Students gain knowledge about recycling along with the opportunity to share in their community and develop critical thinking skills.

Do you participate in America Recycles Day? We would love to hear about your activities. Share them in the comments below.

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About the author: Sharon Hall

Sharon Hall was a recipient of the Presidential Award of Excellence in Math teaching. With over 15 years of classroom experience as a National Board Certified teacher, Sharon shares her content knowledge and reflections on ideas for basic classroom technology integration with us.


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