Recycling is an important concern to be brought to the attention of all of the younger generation; however, middle-school-aged students are at a prime time in their lives to engage in worthwhile projects that impact the greater society.
They are at an age where they are developing their own ideology and concerns. They are beginning to consider the world outside in relation to themselves, take stock of its condition, and lay down personal judgments about it.
It is because of this ability to consider the outside world, albeit in a very self-centric way, that they are ready to be a part of projects that help them to shape the world for the better.
Break out these exciting ways to engage teens in recycling activities to channel their fiery hearts towards helping the environment in which their youthful lights burn!
1. Recreate Famous Structures
Whether it is during an exploration of world geography, an art class, or as part of a bigger project, like creating a school museum, students can collect recyclable materials and use them to create famous architectural structures. Students may even find recyclable materials to create electricity in their structures!
Depending on the space, students would be able to create several small-scale versions of several large structures. How great a concept in action to view! Here is an awesome idea for the Eiffel Tower to kick it off!
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2. Create a City Scape
Students could create an art project cityscape using brown paper bags, cardboard, or other recycled paper materials. This project could be used as a mural if done in the downtown city in which the school is located.
Learn More: Harbor Creative Arts
3. Have a Paper Plane Race
Students could easily recycle paper but creating paper planes. This fun hands-on activity is sure to get everyone excited! Students could study different aspects of aerodynamics to find the fastest paper plane models, then have a race.
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4. Have a Small Derby Car Race
It doesn't have to stop at planes, students could also consider aerodynamics and other aspects of physics when designing some small derby cars from various recyclable materials. Get the recycling program on the fast track!
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5. Make use of Resources
Schools and classrooms are always needing resources, so why not create your own! Students could work together to create a school recycling center, which would allow materials to be reused or even recreated.
Get creative and abundant with the recycling bins! Students could learn to create recycled paper from shredded old paper, crayons from old melted crayons, and many other cool things.
If it was not possible for students to learn to do these things, perhaps developing a partnership with a local recycling agency would be a great way to put the student's school recycling center to use toward giving back to the school.
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6. Create Fashionistas
Students love to be in charge of their own style! Tap into the unique style of students with this creative project that will let them learn to recycle old clothes into new cool items.
Students could collect donations or each student could even bring in something they were thinking of throwing out.
Students could then explore and seek new ideas for how to recreate the old clothing into something cool and new they would want to use or they think others may want!
Learn More: Pinterest
7. Add to the Elementary Library
Resources are always scarce, but we want to see kids reading books, right? Middle school students could help build the classroom library of their elementary cohorts by using recycled materials to make books.
Challenge students to create engaging learning stories for little friends! This could be an exercise in writing and art for the teens as well!
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8. Create Puzzles for Preschool
Middle school students could create puzzles and games from recycled materials to donate to local preschools or even the elementary classrooms. The recycling campaign brings joyful learning to younger kids with this fun idea!
Learn More: Barley and Birch
9. Pencil Holders for Desks
Middle schoolers could spend time teaching younger kids about recycling and then work together with younger students to create useful recycled items like pencil holders for the elementary grade classrooms. Check out these simple, yet adorable Ninja Turtle pencil holders to get ideas flowing.
Learn More: Jeddah Mom
10. Upscale Mother's Day
Teachers often have to come up with craft ideas for Mother's day, but what if we make mother's day even more updated by letting middle school students partner with elementary counterparts to teach them how to make something like these cute recycled-material necklaces.
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11. Don't Forget Dad
Continue letting the middle schoolers pair with elementary students for Father's day as well. Father's day may come in the summer, but it could still be a final end-of-year project to create something for those fun dads (and it might save moms some creativity in their busy schedules, too)!
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12. Bring in the Wildlife
Students could get involved in hands-on project ideas using recycled materials. They can create bird houses and bird feeders that would bring lovely animal visitors for the students at school to enjoy and observe. Nature is an excellent teacher, so let the students help you invite her to school by creating feeders like these.
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13. Create Cool Useful Bags
Students could learn to create purses, wallets, backpacks, pencil holders, and other useful bags for school supplies from old candy wrappers. These things would be cute and useful for students to use or sell to raise funds for school improvements they want.
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14. Create Bowls or Baskets
Middle schoolers could create bowls, baskets, mats, and other objects from recycled items to be used at home or school. What beautiful art projects to amp up the recycling campaign!
Learn More: Not on the High Street
15. Make Board Games
Everyone enjoys having fun, so why not build your own board games? This project could be used for student review by requiring them to, not only use recycled materials but also, use review concepts from different classes in creating these fun games.
Learn More: Hands On As We Grow
16. Make Music
Create musical instruments and start a school band. Students can learn a lot about musical creation through this creative, engaging project. This classroom activity is a fun way to make garbage dreams come true!
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17. Start a Garden
Recycled Materials could be used to start a compost project and school gardening project! Students can use recycled materials to create a space for the garden.
They can also use recycled materials to start growing the garden. Students will love growing their own beautiful flowers, bushes, and trees. Perhaps students could even grow their own healthy vegetable snacks!
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18. Make a Vase for The Flowers
Students can use various recycled materials to create cute vases to decorate the school with the lovely flowers from their garden! What a great way to reuse plastic containers among other recycled containers!
Learn More: Pinterest
19. Decorate for the holidays
20. Make a Marble Run
Middle school students will have a blast making marble runs from recycled materials. Students can work in groups, then have marble races. What a fun way to learn about physics and other areas of science, technology, engineering, and math!
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21. Recycled Book Character Day
Most schools choose to go with a Book Character Day over Halloween, but either way, everyone loves a chance to dress up! Let students hold their own creative Recycled Book Character Day by creating costumes entirely from collected recycled materials! You could have some thespian students put on a short show after a fun costume contest!
Learn More: Babble Dabble Do
22. Harness the Wind
23. Create Fidgets
24. Write and Create a "How to"
Students can exercise their writing skills as they also use recycled craft items to create something by doing the "How to" projects. Students will need to create a "themed" object but also be able to write a clear paper teaching someone else how to do it.
You can make it even more engaging by having students create something using the "how-to" written by another student and compare the results!
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25. Cook Out in the Sun
Get students hyped about recycling by letting them learn about solar energy through the creation of a solar oven. They will be even more stoked when they get to eat what their ovens cook!
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26. Self-Checking Math Centers
Teachers can use old bottle caps to create these great self-checking math centers for a fun review of previously learned material. This idea is not only functional for math, but also for a variety of subjects using a variety of sizes and styles of old container lids.
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27. STEM Centers
Focus on recycling with STEM centers using a variety of recycled items as well as a ton of creativity. Students can choose cards, build ideas in teams, etc. You can use these great STEM cards found here or come up with your own!
Learn More: Science Demo Guy
28. Create a Coaster Park
Middle schoolers will love tapping into engineering by using paper plates, straws, bottles, and other recyclable materials to create roller coasters. You can have students use different materials to create different kinds of coasters and give them unique names.
Perhaps you can invite the younger grades to check out the coaster park and view the completed trials!
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29. Design a Bird's Nest
Wanna keep the scientific fun alive? How about having students design and test a bird's nest? Can they use the limited resources found in a lot of random recycled items to make it sturdy enough to hold an egg? I bet they will have fun finding out!
Learn More: Momgineer
30. Make a Selfie
A great activity for students is to have students use recycled items to create a self-portrait! Break out the inner artist by bringing cubist-style selfies from concept to life! This video will give some inspiration on how to implement the idea.
Learn More: United Art and Ed