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The Recycling Project

This Spring, the Hoppin’ Frogs Preschool class embarked on a journey through project-based learning.  An interest in vehicles sparked scientific exploration, early mathematics practice, creative play, and self-discovery. While observing their play, the children's curiosity about vehicles was evident, particularly their interest in motorbikes, trains, trucks, and especially "trash trucks." 

Once this trend emerged, the students discussed their prior knowledge of trash, recycling, and vehicle parts. They shared information about the days their household trash and recycling were collected, that the arm on the truck picks up the dumpster, and when the dumpster is really full the trash falls on the ground. With Ms. Liz’s help, the class  created a visual representation of a trash truck, drawing from the students’ existing knowledge. As the weeks went by, the children returned to this depiction offering up parts as they learned or remembered them. This illustration served as a reference that students consulted during their play.

The idea of "Reduce-Reuse-Recycle”' was introduced as we gathered recyclables and clean "trash," which the children explored and used in their play. The children were introduced to a sorting game, given toy trash bins and pictures of trash, recycling, and compost, and asked to sort the pictures correctly. This activity later inspired the creation of a classroom "recycling center" where children sorted real materials into plastic, paper, aluminum, glass, and cardboard. 

To enhance their understanding of the importance of recycling (particularly plastic), the children experimented with water and recyclables. They free-played with a large tub of water and materials from our recycling collection. Their observations led to an exciting discovery! When a paper-wrapped straw was placed in the water, the paper dissolved, but the straw remained. “It's waterproof!” exclaimed one of the children. 

Concurrently, the Frogs were inspired by the Washed Ashore Project, which uses plastic pollution to create sculptures. The students took pleasure in crafting robots and sharks from materials sourced from the classroom recycling center. As their understanding of recycling deepened, we engaged in practical recycling activities by creating paper from donated newspapers.

The children also engaged with experts through a virtual "field trip" to a Recycling Center and in-person visits from Republic Services, as well as a visit from a student’s Dad, who shared his use of recycled plastics in his work at Purina. The student’s Dad taught the children how to identify recycling symbols on plastic materials and their significance in his work to reuse plastic materials to create 100% recycled containers.

As the Hoppin’ Frogs' expertise grew, a few students shared their knowledge about trash trucks with the Flying Crows Nursery class. To culminate their project, the Hoppin’ Frogs created a recycling center in the classroom, where they built their own trash trucks and designed signs to promote recycling around our school. This project not only enhanced their understanding of recycling but also fostered a stewardship approach to environmental care.

By: The Hoppin’ Frog Teachers

Ms. Liz and Ms. Maggie 


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