How to Teach Toddlers to Recycle With Recycling Games

Your family probably creates several pounds of trash a day. Yes, a day. That’s a lot of waste, but recycling can help reduce your effect on the planet. Your child should be involved too, but let’s be honest, it’s hard to convince kids to separate trash. It’s boring and it’s gross. But, it doesn’t have to be. Play a few recycling games with your child. You’ll have a blast spending time together and Mother Nature will thank you.

Sorting Race

Collect a variety of clean recyclables, such as plastic milk bottles, tin cans and newspapers. Glass can be recycled, too, but you’ll probably want to skip it for this game so something doesn’t get broken. Make two piles of the recyclables and set out three recycling bins or empty boxes next to each pile. On your mark, you and your child will race to see who can separate the items into the bins first, such as plastic in one, paper in another and tin cans in the third.

You might make it easier for your child by taping pictures of each item to the appropriate bins. Dump everything out and play again. Challenge your child to see whether he can beat his time on the second round.

Collection Contest

Have a collection contest with your child. Give your child a small plastic bucket or a sturdy cardboard box. Keep one for yourself and your child’s siblings as well. Set a time limit, such as two days or one week, and encourage everyone in the family to collect as many items that can be recycled as possible, such as empty shampoo bottles, cardboard cracker boxes or water bottles.

At the end of the time limit, empty each bucket and see who has the most items. Declare that person the winner, and then work together to separate the items into your recycling bins.

Scavenger Hunt

Plan a scavenger hunt for your child. List or draw pictures of what you want your kiddo to find, such as an empty soda bottle and used pieces of paper. Turn your child loose in the house and see whether he can find each of the items. You might want to hide certain items before the hunt. It’ll get your kid excited about recycling and he’ll be cleaning up a little, too. Once he’s collected everything, ask him to choose three items and see whether he can turn them into an interesting piece of art.

Play Online Games

Many websites offer child-friendly online games that will teach your child how to recycle. Many of the games are appropriate for preschool-age children, but you might need to offer some help with reading directions. Try “Recycle Roundup” from National Geographic for Kids. Items fall from the sky and your child has to separate them into the recycling bin, trash can and compost heap as fast as she can.

Play “The Adventures of KabMan” for another entertaining adventure. Your child becomes KabMan and has to fly through the air catching recyclables while also dodging disgusting trash, such as used underwear. Yeah, it’s delightful, but it’ll get your kiddo thinking about recycling.

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