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Name of Activity:

Race to Recycle

Purpose of Activity:

To improve fitness and manipulative skills while learning about the principles of recycling - REDUCE / REUSE / RECYCLE!


Prior practice with a variety of manipulative skills (i.e. throwing, rolling, catching, etc.)

Suggested Grade Level:


Materials Needed:

1 Recycling Bin for each team (I use 5 or 6 depending on class size)
A variety of equipment from your storage room that will represent different recycled materials. I have used:
Foam Frisbees
Foam Balls (various sizes)
Plastic Cones or Pins
Milk Cartons
Stacking Cups
Old Film Canisters

Description of Idea

The goal of the Race to Recycle activity is to "recycle" as many objects as possible during a 5-minute round to get your team best score. See videos below for more help in understanding how this idea works.

Each round students must perform different challenges (one or two students at a time) to earn the right to recycle equipment in their bin.

While students are waiting their turn, they have the opportunity to rest or earn extra steps with their pedometers "Tabata" style. An activity is displayed on the SMARTBoard along with a timer that shows the intervals (20-seconds of jumping jacks, fast feet, ski jumps, etc. and then 10-seconds of rest). When a teammate returns from recycling, they simply switch roles.

Here are some examples of my recycling rounds:

Round 1 - Foam Frisbees (represent cardboard). Teams must throw the Frisbee with proper technique and hit 2 different walls to recycle Frisbees. Each Frisbee is worth 1 point.

Round 2 - Foam Balls (represent paper). Teams must shoot at a basket with proper technique twice to recycle the ball. If students make the first shot, they can recycle immediately. Each ball is worth 1 point.

Round 3 - Cones (represent plastic). Teams use a rainbow-colored ball to knock over the cones. Proper opposition technique is required when rolling or throwing. Students may knock over more than one cone with a single throw/roll. Each cone is worth 1 point.

Round 4 - Milk Carton Scoops (another plastic). Teams are given a mini rainbow ball that they use to catch in the milk carton. Toss must be ~10 feet in air. We have 2 different sizes of cartons to add to the challenge. Big cartons are 1 point, small are worth 2 points.

Round 5 - Stacking Cups (represent cans or glass). Teams must gather three stacking cups, make a pyramid, break it down to a single stack, and repeat that for a total of three times before recycling cups in their team bins. Students must use proper technique when stacking and breaking down stacks (BOTH HANDS). Two students may go at once.

Round 6 - Old Film Canisters (I have a box of 200+, they represent cans, glass, or plastic - great discussion for how technology has reduced the need for these). All students participate at the same time this round. Inside each canister is a fitness activity the student must perform before recycling the film canister, i.e. 15 jumping jacks, 10 pushups, 2x through the Macarena, etc.

You choose the type of manipulative skill to work on that is best for your students and based on your available equipment. Find a way to relate the activity to recycled materials making it meaningful for the race to recycle.

Emphasize teamwork, team best scores, and fitness while waiting to promote optimal activity time. Check pedometers throughout and watch the numbers sky rocket! Reward teams for best team spirit, highest activity level, or exceptional skill performance with bonus points.

Start each round with "Reduce - Reuse - Recycle"!


I used this video on the SMARTBoard to supplement the lesson:

Assessment Ideas:

Students could get in small groups or with partners and review the answers to questions displayed on the SMARTBoard. For example:

What are the 3 R's of recycling?
What are some examples of recycled materials?
What activity did we use opposition to recycle?
Why do we recycle?

Adaptations for Students with Disabilities

Vary the requirements of the challenges to meet the abilities of your students - i.e. size/type of ball, or number of times.

Round 1 - Hit fewer/more walls with Frisbee.
Round 2 - Two students go at once. Make your shot grab a bonus ball for your bin. Require specific distance from basket to shoot.
Round 3 - Require specific distance from basket to knock over cone.
Round 4 - Increase height of toss or number of catches. Allow ball to bounce on floor before catching with scoop.
Round 5 - Increase or decrease number of stacks.

You may also change how you keep score (i.e. 2 points instead of 1, count by 3's, 5's).


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Race to Recycle

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