BrainPOP BrainPOP Jr.
Reduce Reuse Recycle

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Who Can Waste the Least?
SUBJECT: Science , Science GRADES: K-3, 3-5
by Rachel Zindler, Educational Advisor

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

OBJECTIVES Students will:

  1. Understand the importance of taking care of the environment.
  2. Practice ways to reduce waste in the classroom and at home.
  3. Become more environmentally aware in their daily activities.

    • Paper
    • Pencils
    • Computers with headphones or speakers
    • Optional: interactive whiteboard
    • Large zip-top plastic bags
    • Scale
    • Chart paper
    • Printouts and copies of the following BrainPOPJr. worksheets and activities: Word Wall words, Brainstorming Web, Letter to Tim and Moby.

    Preview the movie and related features for Reuse Reduce, Recycle. Think about your students' abilities and consider which features are most appropriate for the individuals in your class. Print the related pages(listed above) and copy as needed. Prepare a class graph to keep track of the waste collection over the course of several weeks.


    1. Kick off your Reduce, Reuse, Recycle unit by having students collect and keep their garbage for a day. Read the Ideas for Grown-Ups section in the BrainPOP Jr. movie, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle for ideas on how to collect and measure the garbage. You may want to use clear zip-top bags so that students can see the items they have collected over the course of a day. As a math connection students should weigh their bags (see related material about weight in the BrainPOP Jr. movie Ounces, Pounds, and Tons). You can challenge the class to estimate and then figure out the total weight of the garbage in the class for the day.
    2. Set out the bags on the desks or tables in the classroom. Ask your students to think of ways to categorize the waste in the bags. Could it be sorted by color? Shape? Material? What would be the most useful way to sort the garbage?
    3. Ask your students where they think all this waste ends up? You can project or print the Brainstorming Web graphic organizer to keep track of their answers.
    4. Before watching the movie, have your students take one of the quizzes about recycling as a form of pre-assessment. You can differentiate easily by assigning the easy or hard quiz for different students. Remember that you can print these quizzes or use the computer for online versions (struggling readers should take the online quiz with headphones or audio on, so they can hear the text as it’s being read).
    5. Preview the Word Wall words from the movie with your class before watching the movie. You may want to hand out printed copies of the list or project the Word Wall page onto the interactive whiteboard.
    6. Screen the movie Reduce, Reuse, Recycle for your class. You may want to watch the movie two times: once for students just to listen and watch, and the second time to pause frequently to discuss the questions Annie poses.
    7. Remind your class how much waste they produced in just one day and then ask them to figure out what half of that number is. Then tell them that you are challenging them to produce only that much waste by the end of your unit. Hand out the printout of a Letter to Tim and Moby and ask students to write two ways they can reduce the waste they produce in a given day, including reusing and recycling materials. Then gather the group to share their ideas.
    8. Over the following weeks, students can bring in and decorate recycling bins for the classroom, hallway, and lunchroom. As they gather recyclables you may want to take a field trip to bring them to a local recycling center. Students can buy and use less packaging in their lunches, begin to use scrap paper for classwork, sharpen pencils less frequently, etc. They will surely think of tons of ways to reduce waste!
    9. As students continue to reduce, reuse, and recycle their waste, they should continue to track how much garbage they generate in a single day. It might be easiest to record the total class waste once or twice each week on a class graph throughout the unit, so students don’t have to carry their garbage around all day every day!
    10. When the class has reached the goal of producing 50% of their waste, they can have an Earth Day film festival to celebrate in the classroom or school-wide. They may want to invite friends and family members to celebrate with them so they can share what they have learned and pass along conservation tips. You can print out Moby movie tickets and invite student experts to speak before/after the BrainPOPJr. movie as well as lead guests through the related interactive activities and games. Throw in some popcorn and enjoy!

    reduce; reuse; recycle; conserve; conservation; environment; compost; landfill; pulp; sorting; contaminate; pollution; waste; groundwater; natural resources


    • This lesson relies heavily on the BrainPOP Jr. movie, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, but there are numerous movies on the site that go into the subjects of conservation, environmental awareness and ecology, particularly in the movies in the Land and Habitats units. Remember that you can differentiate easily by having pairs of students watch the same movie, but assigning more or less complex features to the individuals depending on their abilities.

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