Teaching science and nature concepts to preschool children can be difficult. One activity to help children understand why recycling is important is to create recycling bottles. The bottles allow the children to watch materials over time in water to see how they change. By making three bottles you can separate the types of materials so the children can compare how the different materials react to being in water. I like to make them at the beginning of a school year or when a large group of new children join the classroom. By creating the bottles at the beginning of the year, the children have all year to see how the different materials decompose. The bottles are a project that can be revisited regularly throughout the year to review how they changed. Making a chart of how much each bottle has changed can be a great way to include math into the project and reading books about recycling and adding them to the science center will add language and literacy to the activity and help extend the children’s understanding. There are many children’s books about recycling; a few are listed below but feel free to find some that work for you.
Instructions for recycling bottles:
- 3 clear empty water bottles with lids
- Hot glue gun
- Different “trash” materials.
- Paper items: different colored tissue paper, construction paper, paper towel, paper plates, card board box pieces
- Plastic and Styrofoam items: plastic forks or spoons, pieces of Styrofoam plates or cups, plastic cups, packaging from snacks
- Foil and metal items: aluminum foil, soda can, galvanized steel screws, standard steel screws, foil snack packaging
- Gather all items and break or tear “trash” into small pieces that will fit in the bottle opening. An adult will need to break sharper materials.
- Put items in bottles by type and fill with water.
- Glue the lids on to the bottles.
- Shake to mix items and water and place on a shelf in the science area to watch.
- Why Should I Recycle? by Jen Green
- We Are Extremely Very Good Recyclers by Lauren Child
- The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle: A Story About Recycling by Alison Inches