Grades K-2
Grades 3-5
Grades 6-8

Repurposed Recyclables

Ask students to collect and repurpose recyclable materials to build something new!

Activity Partner
Total time estimate:
Activity Objectives
  • Students will work in a group to gather recyclable materials and create something new that is useful for others
  • Students will share their projects with each other, and show appreciation for each other’s creativity, imagination, and hard work

  • Recyclables such as cans and bottles, plastic bags, empty containers, milk cartons, cardboard boxes, newspapers, and straws

This activity supports the development of the following social-emotional skills: relationship skills and social awareness.


Divide your class into groups of 4–5 students, with the challenge of making something new out of something old! Each group should work together to collect recyclable materials from their homes and community.

Then, each group will repurpose their recyclables to build something useful for people (or even a character in a book!), such as a toy or game, birdhouse, organizer, instrument, planter, decorations, etc. Encourage students to get creative and imaginative with their ideas!


Invite students to share their projects with your Empatico partner class, either by facilitating a live virtual exchange or using a tool like Flipgrid. You might also use your Empatico Shared Folders to exchange photos and videos of your students’ projects.

Encourage students to describe the different materials that they used, how they worked together on their project, and how it will help others.


Guide students through a post-activity reflection by asking the following questions:

  • Describe the process of working together with your group. How did you decide what to build?
  • How did you include everyone’s unique ideas and skills? Did each person play a specific role in the group?
  • Did you experience any challenges while working on your project? How can we handle disagreements or overcome obstacles together by practicing kindness and respect?
  • What other skills can help us achieve a common goal with others?
  • What was something cool that you liked about another group’s project?
  • Did this project help you look at recyclable materials differently? How so? Why is it beneficial to consider how we can reuse materials instead of throwing them away?

This activity was created in partnership with the Merrills EDU.

Did you finish this activity? We'd love your input.