The Toddler Recycling Project

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recycle bin

A few days ago, I wrote a post titled A Mother’s Green Commitment, where one of my key green commitments for 2011 was to teach my two year old the concept of recycling. I had devised a game I titled The Sorting Game and promised to let you know how things went. Well…

I thought I had a great game for my daughter, where together we would take a pile of garbage (or a pile I had created for less mess), and have her pick whether an object went in the trash or the recycling bin. I had a sticker chart and everything set up to praise her when she got an object in the right bin.

Things went well, but the game has yet to end. After she sorted through the pile of trash on the floor, she then decided that everything needed to be sorted. So wherever there was a pile of anything, my daughter was looking to sort it into “garbage” and “recycling”. You would be surprised how many “piles” you have sitting around your house. We have had whole loads of laundry head to the trash (as a photo of clothes was not attached to our recycling bin), we have had toys end up in the garbage, CDs and books (well they made it to the recycling bin).

I blame the stickers. I did not realize how much or what she would do for a sticker. Needless to say, our house is very tidy but not very organized.

Now that I have convinced her that the game is over and the world is out of stickers. I realized that she has sorting down, but the concept of recycling is still missing. She does not realize that what goes in the blue bin will and can come back as something else. So, I need a new plan.

Enter The Matching Game. How to play?

  • Take 3 (or more) of your child’s favorite things that are made from recycled materials. For us we had:

a.  A stuffed animal made from recycled water bottles.

b.  A blanket made from recycled clothing.

c.  Pencil made from recycled newspapers.

  • Find a sample of the original item that makes up your child’s favorite things. For us we found:

a.  A plastic water bottle.

b.  One of Mom’s old t-shirts.

c.  A pile of newspapers.

  • Now ask them the question – “what does this newspaper make?” and see if they understand the concept.
  • An alternative, is to place the 3 objects around the room and hand them, say the plastic water bottle, and say “show me what this makes or turns into after it goes into the blue box.”.

Happy to let you know how this one goes.