Printable Recycling Sorting Activity Recycle With Kids

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One of our household goals has been to reduce the amount of waste we produce. To achieve this, getting the kids involved in recycling and working this into our every day is part of us making these changes long-term and sustainable. Learn about simple swaps and plus get a fun printable recycling sorting activity to contribute to reaching this goal!

As a family of 5, there are certainly plenty of opportunities to be able to make better choices by swapping certain purchases. While there are areas we can still improve on to reduce the impact our family has on the war waste, I find some relief knowing that we are on our way to becoming a sustainable household. Recycling with kids involved has been a lot of fun at our house.

Posting Activity recycling with kids printable

Recycling With Kids

Getting the kids involved in recycling is certainly much more than just sorting rubbish. Yes, swapping purchases for more sustainable options does play a huge part. However, we parents can get our kids involved every day to make them conscious consumers.

The Four R’s Of Recycling

Making lots of seemingly small choices can have a huge impact on the amount of waste produced by a household. Imagine the difference each household in your community could make, on a national scale, if they simply swapped out a couple of plastic bags for re-useable ones. This is something we can do together!

Have you heard of the four R’s of recycling? Four little things to consider that you can involve the kids in too!


As a community, we certainly have many opportunities to make sustainable choices. Swapping our purchases is a great way to minimise waste. What to do instead of buying single-use products? Why not swap them for those that can be reused?

Here are some examples

Refusing to purchase single-use items will create less waste. In turn, this means fewer things in landfills. As a result, less rubbish in the environment.


If you can’t swap something out entirely, can you reduce the use of the item?

Take us back to the days of generations before us! It seems when they had less, they used what they had more. Not only would this help the environment but imagine the impact on your wallet too!

  • Use containers/ jars instead of plastic wrap
  • Bake lunchbox snacks at home rather than purchasing snacks in wrappers
  • Do larger loads in the washing machine, rather than frequent smaller ones
  • Buy in bulk to reduce the use of packing materials. Or better yet, why not seek out your local ‘bring your own container’ grocery store! Refill containers, jars or bags that you already have with new produce. Each month or so, we donate excess jars to our local and they are always warmly received.


Rather than throwing items away, consider if you can reuse them.

  • An old shirt could be used as a rag in the garage
  • A laundry powder scoop could be used to scoop fertiliser in the garden
  • Jars can be reused to store all sorts of products around the home
  • Water the garden using the grey-water from your washing machine


There are many advantages and benefits of recycling, for our communities at both a local and global scale. Reducing the amount of landfills is just one of the perks of popping your recyclable materials into that yellow lid recycle bin!

By recycling natural resources, there is less of a need to extract more of our planet’s valuable, natural resources. There would be less mining. The need for deforestation would reduce. In turn, much less pollution would be contributed to our already polluted planet.

Recycling with Toddlers

Getting kids in the mindset of creating less waste and reusing resources, otherwise destined to landfill can begin from the very get-go.

Involve your toddler in recycling by including them in sorting the rubbish and placing the recyclable items into the appropriate recycling bin.

As a result, they will be on their way to establishing some great eco-friendly habits!

How to explain recycling to kids

Recycling is taking something old and turning it into something new!

Expand on this concept every day. While you are repurposing and reusing, explain to your children that you are recycling. Before throwing away valuable resources, ask your child how they think they could recycle it!

How to involve kids in recycling

  • Get the kids involved in returning soft plastics to the store
  • Facilitate the Containers for Change program
  • Use stickers to decorate the bins as a visual reminder, what goes into which bin
  • Donate preloved toys and clothes
  • Shop preloved toys and clothes
  • Encourage the kids to use reusable bags
  • Create a composting station
  • Start a worm farm

Before placing items into the bin, why not have a conversation about other alternatives the item could be used for? Better yet, ask them what they could use it for!

Recycling slogans

All of these recycling activities can open up conversations about what recycling is and why it is important for us to do it. Create a quick slogan to further ingrain the message ina fun way.

  • Recycle to help save the planet
  • Trash today, treasure tomorrow
  • Think outside the trash
  • Be smart, think green – recycle
  • Avoid pollution, be the solution
  • Rethink the future
  • Be a planet hero and recycle
  • But first, recycle
  • Never refuse to reuse

Recycling Activities with Toddlers

  • Set up activities with bottle tops, jars, containers and toilet rolls
  • Save the plastic netting from your vegetables for craft activities and small world play
  • Turn old paintings into gift wrap or bunting to decorate your play space
  • Use egg cartons as a paint palette
  • Save boxes to turn them into cars, boats, planes, carriages and so much more – their (and yours) imagination are the only limits

Here are some ways that we have utilised saved resources otherwise headed to landfill:

Reused 3L milk bottles to make space exploration jet packs

View this post on Instagram

???‍? Solar System Suicide ?‍??? We made jet packs and are zooming across our solar system! After aligning the planets in order from the sun we lined them up in order across the yard. Starting at the sun, the girls then ran to the number planet from the sun and then back again. Once they learnt the names of the planets, instead of a number I would give them the name of the planet to run too along with a description ☀️ ?? Have you downloaded your FREE Space Activity yet? #playinspiredmum #solarsystem #planets #playideas #learning #learningresources #spacetravel #spaceexploration #grossmotor #grossmotoractivity #education #earlylearning #playoutdoors #mummyblog #reuse #recycle #milkcartons #toddlerplayidea #everydayplayhacks #playathome #sunnywinterdays

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Matching fine motor activity using plastic jars and bottles and their kids

Reused some cardboard to create this frame

Plastic bottle tops used to create this small world cloud exploration

Recycling with Preschoolers

Get a bit more creative with these slightly more challenging play ideas while discussing recycling with your preschooler. Construction play is always a hit too! It’s amazing the stories our little ones can come up with using their creations as props. Pass them some resources and a bit of glue or tape and let their creativity take over!

Snowmen made with old socks with beanies made with a paper toilet roll

This DIY treehouse was made using paper rolls and an old nappy box

Egg carton keyboard for some screen free typing practise

Printable Recycling Sorting Activity

This is an activity that we did a few months ago that seemed to be very popular on Instagram. Now, it may look simple enough but there are lots of challenges in this seemingly straightforward activity.

We got this super cute ‘money box’ from our local Kmart. It has been so handy for all sorts of sorting activities. Writing this right now, toilet rolls spring to mind as an alternative to using the money box!

You can download this Reduce, Reuse, Recycling Printable Activity Pack

With this printable recycling sorting activity worksheet, your child will discover the concepts of recycling. This educational worksheet comes with over 50 items that need to be sorted in the appropriate bins.

  • Plastics
  • Paper
  • Glass
  • Organic
  • E-Waste
  • Metals

Simply print, cut, and play! Laminate for extra durability or use as is. Once you have the file downloaded, save it for availability to print over and over again.

How to use your printable recycling sorting activity

This printable recycling sorting activity can be used in so many ways. Please expand on using it more than just a sit-down worksheet!

  • Glue elements into boxes on the printable worksheet
  • Post into toilet tubes
  • Sort onto a vertical sticky wall with contact paper
  • Mark out the bins on the floor with masking tape for full-body sorting
  • Turn into sorting stones activity by gluing printed elements onto stones

Miss 2 enjoyed sorting the different types of rubbish into their groups as marked on the rainbow of recycling bins. This in itself, was a great vocabulary-building activity too! We spoke about the different items, their names, what they could have been used for, and which bin the item should be placed into.

Do you have any more fun recycling play ideas? Feel welcome to share them in our Facebook Group! I can’t wait to see them!

Dani D x

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One Comment

  1. This four R concept Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, needs to be understood by everyone to save our future. Each and every product we use can be recycled. But by refusing or reducing the use of such a product, we can protect our environment. If it is very necessary then only use the products & try to reuse if not recycling of each product can be done very easily.

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