I have a few Earth-friendly activities to share this week in remembrance of Earth Day on Saturday. (I’ll be at the Great Cloth Diaper Change, where will you be?)

Today I have a super-simple sorting activity with a recycling theme. I tried sorting with Bean a couple of months ago and it was a no-go, so I backed off until yesterday. To introduce the concept of sorting and recycling, we stopped in at Whole Foods to observe their trash/recycle/compost station in the cafe. I explained that sorting means that people put different things where they belong in the different holes. I didn’t go in to composting or anything too complicated. Obviously, with an older child you could extend this activity. We snapped a photo so we could remind ourselves what it looked like when we got home.

I used three small bins that I had purchased several months ago for $1 at Target. Boo-Boo used them when he was in his put-a-ball-in-a-cup phase. Of course, you could use any small, plastic container (out of your recycling bin, of course!).

I chose to do only three categories and picked aluminum, paper, and glass. I wanted to make sure that it would be easy for her to differentiate between the three materials so I omitted plastic in favor of glass. Glass makes a fun, clink-y sound and, practically speaking, I didn’t have any small plastic items on hand. The glass bottles were from baby food and vanilla flavoring. The aluminum is folded foil and paper is just crumpled paper out of the real recycling can. I made sure everything would fit in her little hands and be easy for her to manipulate.

I made a little sign and explained that this is the symbol for recycling. Side note: I don’t know that she understands the concept of recycling or what happens when something is recycled.  To be honest, I’d like to see it myself. Field trip to a recycling plant, anyone?

After we looked back at the Whole Foods photo, I presented her with a mat of the materials and told her that this was her “Recycling Center” and her work was to sort the different objects into the three cans. She spent a few minutes just exploring the materials and then we did the first sort together.

                                                               {“I want to do it again!”}

She did it several more times on her own. Success!

I’m sharing this project on Modern Parents, Messy Kids for the Deco Art Earth Day Craft Challenge. MPMK has partnered with Make and Takes for this challenge and they have a collaborative Pinterest board if you’d like to see more stuff like this.

Tomorrow I’ll share a few insanely easy activities that use materials right out of your recycling bin.

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