Lesson Plan: The Life Cycle of Recycling

Learn and write all about it.

Have you ever considered what happens to an aluminum can after you drop it into the recycling bin? In this science and language arts lesson, students explore the life cycle of recycling. They’ll learn about the process of recycling aluminum cans and practice writing paragraphs and transitions.


Here are the general steps of the life cycle of recycling lesson plan. Print the PDF below for more information, a worksheet, and tips for using this lesson with your class.


Engage: Introduce the Topic


Lesson Plan: The Life Cycle of Recycling


Teacher: What do students know about the process of recycling aluminum cans? Record what they think happens to an aluminum can once it is put in a recycling bin. Make sure to number what they believe are the steps in the process.


Student: Share what you know and ask any questions you have about the process of recycling aluminum cans.


Explore: Go to the Lab


Teacher: Use the “What Happens to Aluminum Cans?” worksheet. For younger students, use an overhead projector. You can cut the worksheet up into sentences and then review as a group. Have students put them in the correct order. Older students can do the worksheet on their own or in small groups.


Student: Complete the worksheet. How did you know the correct order for the sentences? Did you use transition words to help you identify the correct order?


Explain: Take Notes


Teacher: Return to the initial list of steps in the recycling process the class made in the Engage step and have students compare them with the actual steps. Review with the students how they knew they were putting the sentences in the correct order. Create a poster of transition words and phrases and ask the class for new ideas, too.


Student: In your journal, list three transition words you learned and write about the aluminum can recycling process. Write one question you still have about how aluminum cans are recycled.


Elaborate: Review and Extend


Teacher: Take a look at the remaining questions from your students. Tackle each question so students understand each step of the process of recycling aluminum cans. Introduce the next assignment to your students: writing a process paragraph.


Student: Brainstorm other processes you can write about. For example: How cheese is made, how to walk your dog, or how to brush your teeth. Write a clear paragraph, outlining the steps of the process you chose and using at least five transition words or phrases.


Evaluate: Check for Understanding


Teacher: Work with students to rewrite and edit their process paragraphs, focusing on organization and transitions.


Student: Share your process paragraph with a classmate. Circle the transition words and phrases. Are the steps of the process clearly written and organized?


Enjoyed this lesson on the life cycle of recycling? Try one on the Benefits of Urban Trees!

The Life Cycle of Recycling Lesson Plan (Grades 3-6)

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