7 Recycling Games to Play with Children

Teach children environmental awareness by building recycling games with materials you already have at home. Keep reading!
7 Recycling Games to Play with Children
Samanta Ruiz

Written and verified by the teacher Samanta Ruiz.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

Environmental awareness is created with daily actions, and using different recycling games is an excellent way to do it.

Children love all activities that have to do with ecology and that they can do themselves, such as collaborating in a family garden or building objects for the house by reusing materials. On this occasion, we have chosen to share 7 simple ideas for recycling games.

Recycling games: Learning by playing

Playful activities always have an educational side, whether in the social, emotional, sensory aspects, etc. When learning by playing, the child does it without pressure, just enjoying the moment, but with the certainty that the learning achieved is solid and lasting.

Niños reciclando en casa con juegos de reciclaje.

Here are some recycling games for children to begin to understand the importance of the necessary actions to take care of the planet.

1. Waste sorting game

To set up this game, you’ll need to collect solid and dry waste, such as paper, plastic bottles, cans, cartons, lids, etc., in a bag for a while. When you have this, set up the game to teach children how to sort the materials and explain why it needs to be done that way.

Next, find four containers in which the materials will go for recycling:

  • Blue for paper and cardboard
  • Green for glass
  • Yellow for plastics, containers, and cans

This recycling game consists of placing the items in the appropriate container until you finish placing them all. By doing this, you’re teaching them not to make mistakes when sorting waste at the source. For example, some of the most frequent mistakes are the following:

  • Cardboard: Cardboard stained with grease can’t be recycled, so it goes with common waste.
  • Notebooks: Paper can be recycled as long as the plastic elements, such as rings or covers, are removed.
  • Glass: Bottles and jars must be clean inside and go in the container without lids or caps.
  • Clothes, shoes, and household items don’t go in recycling containers. Everything that’s in good condition should be donated to someone in need.

2. Game to recycle cartons: A custom-made city

Building a miniature city is a great project to reuse elements such as boxes, cartons, old papers, and newspapers. Help children design their own city including houses, buildings, streets, squares, schools, and everything they can think of!

This recycling game is fantastic because it’s very dynamic; you can add buildings and use lots of things you find at home, such as pieces of fabric or wood, buttons, plastic wrap, and much more.

Bowling with colored bottles, one of the best recycling games

Plastic bottles are one of the most versatile elements to reuse. In this case, they’ll be used to make a bowling game. You’ll need 10 empty bottles of the same size and shape (all of them must have their cap).

To have a bottle of each color, you can put paint inside them and shake them so that all the walls are impregnated. Then, you leave them without a lid until they dry. This recycling game is completed with the ball also made of recycled material, such as aluminum foil.

Another way to make them colorful is to fill them with water and add colorants of different shades. In this case, be sure to close the lid perfectly when you’re going to play! If you choose this option, the ball should be made of a heavier material, for example, you can make one out of papier-mâché.

4. A puppet theater: A game to recycle and much more

To make the body of the puppets, use old socks and decorate them according to the character you want to create. For the head, you can make one out of painted styrofoam or paper mache that you’ll make yourself at home.

Puppets made from recycled socks.

Then, take the sock by the part of the toes and pierce the fabric with a skewer stick in order to join the head and the body.

Find a large cardboard box to build the stage. Make a window on one of the sides and glue shiny papers to the whole box. Then, just find the best place in the house to set up the theater and start the show.

This is a recycling game that can also be used as an extra activity: Let the children imagine and write a story. Isn’t it great?

5. Stilts to look taller

Gather several pairs of food cans and paint them with fun colors or decorate them with stickers. For older children, use milk or fruit cans.

To do this, you have to use them upside down, that is, with the base on top. There, you have to make two holes facing each other, with an awl or with a nail and hammer.

Through each hole, pass a long rope and knot the end that remains on the inside of the can, which will act as a stopper. The idea is for the ropes to reach the height of the children’s hands so they can hold them. Ready! The only thing left to do is to climb up and, with the ropes, move the stilts to the rhythm of the feet.

Recycling games bring benefits for everyone

When you teach children to make their own games out of discarded materials, you’re setting in motion positive actions that benefit everyone. It’s the most basic and effective form of environmental education at home. This way of educating is something bigger than simply reusing a product, it’s respecting nature and investing in a cleaner and healthier world.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.