Radical Recycling

Radical Recycling

8-10 yrs old

11-13 yrs old

Climate & Environment



Learn about the importance of recycling.

avatar Submitted By: Minecraft Education

April 7, 2021


  • Citizenship
  • Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking

External References

Minecraft World File

World to support lesson activities. Will open in Minecraft: Education Edition.

Minecraft World File - Direct Download

World to support lesson activities. Direct download.

Learning Objectives

  • Students will: Gain background knowledge about recycling through introductory games and a challenge.
  • Explore the Sustainability world to determine what recyclable materials can be found at various points in the city.
  • Visit the city’s recycling center to compare the Minecraft recycling center to a video tour of a real-world recycling center and review an informative article.
  • Write a summary of what items may be recycled and how they are recycled.
  • Use recyclable materials to create a solution to a common household/classroom problem.

Guiding Ideas


Students begin this lesson by gaining background knowledge about recycling. Then, in teams of 2-3 students, they explore the Sustainability world and complete two tasks. The first task has students walk around and take notes about what items they may find in various points in the city (house, school, office building, grocery store, etc.). The second task has them compare the Minecraft recycling center with a real-world recycling center. As a wrap-up activity, students use recyclable materials to create a solution to a household or classroom problem after creating a prototype in Minecraft.

Guiding questions:

• What is recycling?

• Why is recycling important?

• What items can be recycled? How are they recycled?

• How can we use recyclable materials to solve everyday problems?

Teacher preparation and notes:

• Possible NGSS standard(s):

o 5-ESS3-1: Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use scientific ideas to protect the Earth’s resources and environment.

• The teacher should click on the Kahoot! game link and make a copy for their own account.

• For the can stacking game, the teacher and/or students need to collect a large boxful of empty aluminum drinking cans (this need can be promoted in advance in the school news or classroom newsletters to help with collection). This is an alternative activity.

• If desired, the teacher can choose groups of 2-4 students ahead of time; students can also choose their own groups.

• Pre-watch the recycling center video tour and pre-read the “Where Do Recycled Items Go?” Wonderopolis article.

• If the teacher would like to create cloze notes for the recycling center video and the Wonderopolis article, this should be done ahead of time (this is a great way to differentiate based on age and/or ability). It is recommended to make the note-taking document in three columns so students can compare the video, the article, and the Minecraft world.

• If there is a need to share virtually or on a video platform, or time is limited for presentations, the teacher can set up a Flipgrid topic for students to share their recyclable material solutions.


Student Activities

Note: Performance expectations (PE) are included in parentheses throughout the activities and connected to the expectations listed after the activities.


• The teacher begins the lesson by having students complete a Kahoot! game that asks various questions about recycling that they may or may not know the answers to. This helps students gain background information.

• Following the game, the teacher asks students to list facts that they learned and if they can connect anything that they learned in the game to themselves or their homes.

• Next, students play the game Recycle Roundup on their individual devices. This can be done for fun or as a class challenge (with a “bracket” system).

• As an alternative activity, the teacher can create teams of 2-4 students and create a challenge in which the teams compete with one another to see who can stack the highest tower of empty aluminum drinking cans in a timed period without the cans being touched or falling.

• To conclude the introduction, the teacher tells students they are going to watch a video of a real-world recycling center (PE1-3). During the video, the teacher should pause at moments when they discuss the various sections of the center so the students can take notes. (Have students create a note-taking paper with three columns: one for the video, one for the article, and one for the world exploration.) This will assist students in making comparisons to the Minecraft recycling center (PE 2, 3), as well as the Wonderopolis article (PE 1-3). Minecraft world exploration:

• After viewing the video as a class and reading the Wonderopolis article individually or in pairs, students begin their journey in the Sustainability Minecraft world. Their first task is to explore the various points in the city except the recycling center. (This can be done in any order.) In their science journals, students should take notes about what items they think might be recycled at each place. If they are having a hard time coming up with ideas, the teacher can share the “How to Recycle Everything in Your Home” article with the students.

• Once students have taken notes on what they find in the different city points, they will gather as a whole group and share their ideas. The teacher should write these ideas down on an anchor chart as students share out.

• The final task in the world is to return to the Minecraft world and explore the recycling center. Students should make sure to have their notes from watching the video tour and reading the Wonderopolis article. As they wander through the center, they should take notes about the recycling process in the third column on their note-taking paper (PE3).

Performance Expectations


• Students use their three column note-taking paper to write a summary explaining what they learned. They need to use specific evidence from the video, article, and Minecraft world (PE4). Students should also state what recycling is (PE1) and why it is important (PE2).

• To conclude the lesson, students are asked to think of a common household or classroom problem. Once they have generated their ideas, they will each sketch in their science journals their ideas for a solution using NO MORE THAN five recyclable items. After sketches are approved by the teacher, the students create a prototype for their solution in their own “Blocks of Grass” Minecraft world. Students should use signs, posters, and/or boards to label the recyclable items and how they will work together.

• Actual items for the project are collected at home (or in school if available). Solutions can be built at home or at school, dependent on what the teacher prefers.

• Once solutions are created, students explain on Flipgrid (or in the class, if time) what their problem/solution is as well as demonstrate how it works (PE5).

Students will be able to:

• Define recycling (PE1).

• Explain why recycling is important (PE2).

• Determine which items are recyclable and how those items are recycled (PE3).

• Summarize, in writing, what items can be recycled and how they are recycled (PE4).

• Demonstrate how to use everyday recyclable materials to solve a common household or classroom problem (PE5).




  • Citizenship
  • Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking

External References

Minecraft World File

World to support lesson activities. Will open in Minecraft: Education Edition.

Minecraft World File - Direct Download

World to support lesson activities. Direct download.