10 Simple and Effective Recycling Activities for Preschoolers

| Last Updated: March 4, 2023

Teaching young children to recycle helps them learn about sustainability, which makes them more aware of the importance of our environment.

As a long-term result, it’ll greatly contribute to making them grow into responsible adults. This may all sound too much to teach to preschoolers, but hopefully, our list will make it an enjoyable ride.

Great Recycling Activities for Preschoolers

Social | Problem-Solving | Gross Motor

1. Scavenger Hunt

This classic scavenger hunt activity is an excellent way to help the little ones learn about various objects that can be recycled. It is such a simple and fun activity that probably wouldn’t take more than 30 minutes!

To get started, create a list of various recyclable items that you want the children to find. Then, assign the time limit you want for the whole activity. Thirty minutes is ideal and more than enough, but it’s still up to you.

Instruct the kids to go through a pile of recyclable items and ask them to get one of each item. Once the time is up, count the number of items each child got. The kid who has gathered the most recycled items wins.

Materials Needed:

  • Recyclable Items
  • Pen
  • Paper

Have you loved this engaging and fun activity? Go ahead and visit momjunction.com to learn more.

Sorting | Problem-Solving | Fine Motor

2. Recycling Sorting Activity

Photo credit: happytotshelf.com

This activity is an awesome way for your preschoolers to learn about the four main types of recyclable materials: paper, plastic, metal, and glass. On top of that, they’ll also be able to practice the actual sorting of recyclables. Pretty cool, right?

All you need to do is print out the template and cut the pictures out. Then, take four empty toilet rolls and attach the pictures to each one of them. Next, cut out the holes in each recycling bin, as well as the pictures of different types of trash. You’re all prepped!

Now, ask your preschoolers to sort the items on the pictures according to the materials they are made of; paper, metal, plastic, or glass. Ask them to also separate the ones that they think cannot be recycled. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

Materials Needed:

  • Sort Before You Recycle Template
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • 4 Empty Toilet Rolls

Discover more about this activity and a whole lot more at happytotshelf.com.

Science | Problem-Solving | Nature

3. Start a Compost Bin

Photo credit: himama.com

This activity is a perfect way to familiarize the kids with the recycling and composting process by applying it themselves. They’ll be able to learn that food waste can be recycled, too. This isn’t a one-time activity but more of a long-term one that you can do with the kids every day after their meal times.

Simply prepare your compost bin and make it a daily routine to empty scraps into the compost bin. Once in a while, you can go together with the children to transfer its contents into an outdoor composter. What an absolutely awesome opportunity to teach young children about the composting process, right?

Materials Needed:

  • Storage Bin
  • Dirt / Soil
  • Meal Leftovers

For more details about this engaging activity, you can check out himama.com.

Sensory | Concentration | Fine Motor

4. Paper Making

Photo credit: tinkerlab.com

Looking for a fun sensory activity that will teach your kids about recycling at the same time? If so, then this paper-making activity is perfect for you! Through this craft, children will learn how paper, one of their commonly used materials for school, is made. Exciting, isn’t it?

First off, ask your child to rip the paper into small pieces and put them in the blender. Then, add enough water to cover the paper. Start blending until the paper is completely broken down into a pulp. Take the screen and place it over your large container. Pour the pulp into the container.

Next, let the kids use their hands to spread it out evenly. Then, press the pulp with a towel or cloth to absorb excess water. Lastly, flip the paper over, remove the screen, and let the pulp dry on the towel.

Materials Needed:

  • Water
  • Blender
  • Large Container
  • Paper Scraps (newspaper, tissue paper, magazines, etc.)
  • Window Screen
  • Washcloth or Towel (to absorb water)
  • Small Seeds, Plant Fibers, Flower Petals, or Food Coloring (optional)

Feel free to visit tinkerlab.com to learn more about this fun-filled activity!

Sensory | Concentration | Fine Motor

5. Make Seed Paper

Photo credit: climatekids.nasa.gov

This activity is quite similar to the usual paper-making activity but with a twist — you can actually plant the paper after using it! It’s indeed one of the best ways to teach your preschoolers the concept of recycling.

To begin, all you need to do is soak your paper pieces in a bowl of water overnight. Then put it in a blender and add water halfway. Blend the mixture. You can add some food coloring here if desired.

Next, take your baking pan and pour in the blended paper mixture. Sprinkle the seeds on top of the wet pulp and gently pat them on the surface of the pulp. Use a towel or layers of felt to drain excess water.

Finally, lay the paper on the surface of the soil and sprinkle about a one-quarter-inch thick layer of soil on top to plant it. Water it lightly until they sprout.

Materials Needed:

  • Used Paper (cross-cut into tiny pieces)
  • Large Bowl of Warm Water
  • Window Screen Material
  • Small Embroidery Hoop
  • Food Coloring (optional)
  • Blender
  • 9 x 13-inch Baking Pan
  • Packet of Wildflower (or other seeds)
  • Bath Towels
  • Waxed Paper
  • Colored Markers

Found this activity amazing? Visit climatekids.nasa.gov to learn more.

Creativity | Concentration | Motor Skills

6. Recycled Materials Art Wall

Photo credit: artbarblog.com

Here is yet another simple but overly fun activity to introduce various recyclable materials to your preschoolers. It is also a great way to show them that scraps can definitely be recycled and used to make a wonderful art piece!

To begin, gather all the supplies you will need. Then, put the huge cardboard on the floor and let the kids work on it. Let them glue various recyclable materials on it. After that’s done, stick packing tape in each corner to stick it to the wall.

Next, take out the paints, jars, bowls, and mixing sticks and let the kids mix and match the colors they like. Finally, let the kids paint their masterpieces on the wall. There you have it, their very own art wall made from recycled materials! Awesome, isn’t it?

Materials Needed:

  •  Various Types of Cardboard (egg cartons, toilet rolls, packaging, milk cartons, etc.)
  • Huge Piece of Cardboard
  • Glue Gun (preferably low-temp)
  • Packing Tape
  • Tempera Paint
  • Jars and Bowls (for mixing)

If you found this activity amazing, go check out artbarblog.com to learn more.

Creativity | Concentration | Motor Skills

7. Recycled Building STEM Activity

Photo credit: busytoddler.com

This is a perfect activity for toddlers and young children. They’ll surely have fun building while you teach them about recycling and recyclable materials. Plus, this activity is a hundred percent cost-free! You’ll only need to rummage a bit through your recyclables at home to get usable materials.

First off, gather recyclable materials that can be used to create the recycled building. Preferably, take cardboard packaging, milk cartons, tissue roll tubes, and other stuff that are perfect for building. Then, let the kids take over!

Tell them to create anything by using the recycled materials you provided. It could be a building, bridge, road, tunnel, or whatever they could think of. Simple, fun, and would buy you lots of toddler playtime!

Materials Needed:

  • Cardboard (packaging, egg cartons, milk cartons, etc.)
  • Any Other Recyclables

Feel free to visit busytoddler.com to learn more about this activity and other fun crafts.

Creativity | Concentration | Fine Motor

8. STEM Activities with Recycled Newspapers

Photo credit: thewiseowlfactory.com

When it comes to recyclable art, one of the best materials you can use is your old newspapers. You probably have stacks of old newspapers sitting in a corner anyway, so why not use them to help your kids learn and have fun? These activities will help your preschoolers see the value of recyclables as they turn them into wonderful pieces!

Newspapers are very flexible and you can use them in a ton of different ways! For instance, you can ask the kids to create their own Mobius strip by cutting a strip of newspaper.

Another cute craft is the newspaper growing tree where the children roll a few newspaper pages and tie them with a string. You can also try folding origami papers to create various results. The options you have are endless!

Materials Needed:

  • Old Newspapers
  • Scissors
  • String or Tape

Discover lots of newspaper activities and a whole lot more at thewiseowlfactory.com.

Science | Sensory | Fine Motor

9. Simple Bug Hotel

Photo credit: redtedart.com

This activity will not only teach the young ones about recycling but also about the importance of bugs in our ecosystem. It is definitely the perfect garden craft for your little ones, as it doesn’t require any drilling or cutting tools. On top of that, having a bug hotel in your garden or backyard is an excellent way to encourage biodiversity.

First, make sure you prepare your large plastic bottle and cut it into two cylinders beforehand. Then, put the sticks, twigs, pine cones, pieces of moss, and everything else you’ve gathered inside each of the two cylinders. Make sure you’ve gathered these from your local environment to ensure it attracts bugs and insects from the same environment. Finally, use the string to hang your bug hotel in your backyard or garden.

Materials Needed:

  • A Large Plastic Bottle (cut into two cylinders)
  • String
  • Sticks & Twigs
  • Pine Cones
  • Bark
  • Pieces of Moss
  • Others (bamboo with holes, natural straws, etc.)

Curious about awesome preschool activities like this? Check out redtedart.com to learn more.

Creativity | Fine Motor | Hand-Eye Coordination

10. Homemade Wind Chimes

Photo credit: handsonaswegrow.com

Looking for another brilliant craft to introduce recycling to your preschoolers? Search no more! This homemade wind chime is definitely a must-try. It’s also very easy and engaging, so the kids will surely enjoy working on it.

First things first, make sure to check your cans for sharp edges. Remember kids are going to be working on them so safety is important. You can tape the rims of the can to avoid cuts. Once that’s done, let the children paint outside of the tin cans. You can also add glitter on top of the paint if you want that extra sheen.

Next, punch holes in the bottom of the tin cans using a nail and hammer. Then, take the long piece of yarn through the holes and tie two washers at the end of the string, inside the tin cans. As an alternative to washers, you may also use rocks or nuts. Finally, have fun with the kids while testing the sound it makes!

Materials Needed:

  • Cleaned Out Tin Cans
  • Paint
  • String
  • Hammer
  • Nail
  • Metal Washers or Nuts
  • Glitter (optional)
  • Tape (optional)

You can visit handsonaswegrow.com for more information about this cool and entertaining activity.


Teaching kids about recycling is extremely important as it helps them learn to value our environment and shapes them into responsible adults. Starting them young is a huge step forward in making that happen.

Hopefully, our list has helped you come up with fun ways to teach your little ones about recycling.

People Also Ask

Now that you have quite a number of activities to introduce recycling to your preschoolers, you might be curious as to how to proceed with defining and discussing it with them. Luckily, we’re here to answer that for you, too!

What Is Recycling in Simple Words for Kids?

The idea of recycling is simple — using trash to create something new. You can tell the kids that recycling is making something useful out of the things that would be otherwise thrown away. Explain to them that when we recycle things, less garbage winds up in our landfills. Hence, recycling is good for our environment.

Hi, I'm Amanda! Welcome to Education Outside! Im passionate about educating young minds and helping parents/teachers by providing easy and effective teaching resources. Check out all of my teaching resources on my Teachers Pay Teachers store.