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Anna Reid

Recycling Unit
Grade 4
Reading/Language Arts
Approximately 4 weeks
The thematic unit is meant to give students an understanding of the importance of recycling over
a four week period. Recycling and taking care of our earth is vital because it is the only earth we
have to live on.
What is recycling?
Recycling is converting waste into usable material or reusing materials over again. You can
recycle glass, plastic, paper, metal and even electronics. Composting is another form of recycling
and is when you reuse biodegradable waste, like food. Recycling is an important concept to teach
students because it will ensure they are not wasteful and they will be contributing in making our
world a cleaner, better environment to live in.
Essential Questions
What is recycling?
How can I limit the waste I produce?
Why is it important to recycle?
Key Assessments
Students will be demonstrating their new knowledge and understanding of each essential
question through different forms of assessment.
1. Recycling poem- students will write a poem after visiting the local dump and landfill.
Students will address what we can do to limit our waste production.
2. Persuasive paper- Write a persuasive piece that supports your views on recycling.
3. Partner plays- Enact one of the five play scripts about recycling. Before performing your
play, tell the class what we can learn about recycling from your play.
4. Vocabulary assessment



Earth day

(Words that are italicized are from the novel. Words that are not are associated with our
theme of recycling.)

Instructional Overview
In this unit, students will explore the concept of recycling through many different picture
books, novels, and poems. After visiting a local landfill and dump, students will take their new
background knowledge to construct a poem about how we can limit our waste production. In the
end, this unit is focused around the three essential questions stated above: What is recycling?
How can I limit the waste I produce? Why is it important to recycle? The activities and
assessments included in this unit will be centered around these questions so that students can
build their comprehension in this area.
Students will be reading Earth Day from the Black Lagoon and as they read they will be
answering comprehension questions with each chapter they finish. We will use these
comprehension questions to have classroom discussions at the end of each week to demonstrate
understanding of the main ideas presented in this book (see the appendix for comprehension
questions). Students will write a poem, a persuasive piece of writing, and participate in partner
plays. The revision and editing process will be present throughout the unit as students complete
drafts and final edits of their poem and persuasive piece. Feedback will be provided by me and
by fellow classmates. Students will also be practicing their fluency by participating in the partner
In the appendix, there are chapter specific comprehension questions that will assist
students in understanding the text as they read. Also in the appendix, there are the five different
partner play scripts. Students will also be assessed on the vocabulary present in this unit at the
end of the four weeks.

Local dump
Local landfill

Thaler, M., & Lee, J. D. (2013). Earth Day from the Black Lagoon. New York: Scholastic.
Picture books:
Seuss. (1971). The Lorax. New York: Random House.
Siddals, M. M., & Wolff, A. (2010). Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe for the Earth. Berkley, CA:
Tricylce Press.

Tang, V. Recycling is
Seitter, C. The 4 Ws
Wolz, E. Reduse, Reuse, Recycle
Brady, J. Remember to Recycle, It Saves the World
How Trash is Recycled:
Earth Day Celebration around the World!
Web Resources
2007 Winning Poems. (n.d.). Retrieved April 24, 2016, from
Hanson, D. (n.d.). Partner Plays: Go Green! Retrieved April 24, 2016, from
Griffith, H. (n.d.). Earth Day From the Black Lagoon: Comprehension Guide. Retrieved April
24, 2016, from

Learning Activities and Instructional Strategies

Week 1

Community: We will begin this unit by visiting a local dump and landfill (Monday).
While at the dump and landfill students will note the difference between the materials
that they see in each. Why do you think some materials are allowed at the landfill and
some are not? Do you think we can recycle the materials at the dump? Students will use
their observation notes to write a poem about how they can limit their waste production.
Journal entries: As a class we will read Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe for the Earth.
Students will then make their own compost in a Ziploc baggie. Over the course of this
unit, each week students will write down observations that they see in their compost bag.
They will use this activity and their knowledge of composting, if they wish, to persuade
their readers in their persuasive piece of writing.
Vocabulary: We will introduce the vocabulary words associated with recycling (e.g.
recycle, landfill, compost). Students will then create flashcards with a student friendly
definition. Students will then write the vocabulary words on Popsicle sticks and two
times each week we will play a game with them. Students will individually pick a
Popsicle stick, correctly pronounce the word, give the definition and then say the word in
a sentence. The students will get to keep the sticks that they get right, student with the
most sticks at the end of the game, wins!

Recycling poem: We will read four examples of recycling poems written by other 4th
graders. Students will then create their own poems about recycling, focusing on how we
can limit our waste production. Students will be expected to include 2-3 vocabulary
words in their poems.
Reading Rainbow: How Trash is Recycled video: We will watch this video as a class to
gain a basic understanding of how trash is recycled.

Dump and Landfill Inspired Poem:

Recycling means to use something again.
Always recycle, not just now and then.
There are things to be re-used; heres a little hint:
Magazines and newspapers and anything in print.
Cardboard, aluminum, glass and steel,
These items to be recycled are really ideal.
Each ton of recycled paper saves 17 trees,
And never dump trash in our worlds deep blue seas.
Do you know that recycling saves energy and costs?
For every tree we save, we cut down on oxygen loss.
Volunteer in a recycling group to combine work with play.
However you recycle, do it every single day!
Julia C. Brady, Grade 5 St. Joan of Arc School Marlton

Week 2

Novel: At the beginning of this week, I will introduce Earth Day from the Black Lagoon.
After students have a few minutes to look at the book, we will have a class discussion
predicting what the book will be about. How will this book relate to our topic of
recycling? Throughout this week we will be reading as a class, partner reading and silent
Reading journals: As students read, they will journal about each character, make
predictions after each reading session, describe situations where they were surprised or
something interested them, as well as take notes of the different facts that will arise about
saving the environment. Students will then be able to use these facts in their persuasive

papers. The reading logs will serve as an outlet for students, therefore the only aspect that
will be graded is completion of the reading log.
Chapter specific questions: At the end of each chapter, students will answer
comprehension questions on their own to ensure they are understanding the novel. Once
they have completed the chapter specific questions they will share their answers with a
table mate and discuss one memorable moment during each chapter (questions can be
found in the appendix).
Character trait worksheet: students will pick their favorite character and complete a
character trait worksheet. Students will have to point out 4 different traits and then draw
evidence from the book that supports that character trait.

Week 3

The Lorax: At the beginning of this week, we will take a break from the novel to explore
and read the book, The Lorax by Dr. Seuess. We will discuss questions like, how did the
Once-lers Thneed business affect the Land of the Lorax? What do you think the boy is
going to do with the Truffula seed? How can we relate this book to our theme of
Reading, journaling, and questions: Students will continue to read, journal and answer the
text specific questions. We will continue to discuss these questions in small groups.
Vocabulary: We will introduce the novel specific vocabulary and students will create
vocabulary cards like they did with the theme vocabulary. We will then add these
vocabulary words into our Popsicle stick jar, and continue to play the game with the
Popsicle sticks throughout the next two weeks (Popsicle stick game directions located in
week 1).

Video: As a class we will watch the video, Earth Day Celebrations around the World!
This will be the first introduction to Earth Day, and if all goes as planned we will be
completing our unit on Earth day. This video will show students how Earth Day is
celebrated around the world and that we are all united as one if we want to make our
environment a better place to live in.
Persuasive paper: As we get towards the end of the novel, students will begin to draft
their persuasive papers. In these papers, students will answer the questions, what can we
do to limit our waste production? Why should we recycle? What other ways can we help
our environment other than recycling? I will expect students to use at least five
vocabulary words in their papers.

Recycling is a very important thing we can do to help our environment. When we recycle
things like paper, glass, metal, and plastic it is all being reused instead of being thrown into a
dump forever. When we use recycled materials we are saving energy because the product
doesnt have to be made again.
Another way we can limit our waste production is by composting. Composting is when
you can compost things that are biodegradable like coffee grounds and banana peels. You can
then use this compost as soil in your garden! In class, we made compost in a Ziploc baggie and
in just a few weeks we had useable soil! It is incredibly easy to compost and helps limit our
waste production!
In the end, if we all work on reducing, reusing and recycling our world will be a better
place. There will be less garbage filling our dumps and landfills, less pollution in our air and we
will be living in a cleaner world. Dont forget to celebrate Earth Day on April 22! People all
around the world celebrate this holiday and work on different ways of cleaning up our
environment, you should too!
Week 4

Partner plays: Students will pick one of the five partner plays about recycling. Each
student will pair up and perform their partner play in front of the class. I will be
evaluating their performance based off of participation, reading fluency, and reading with
emotion. At the end of each play, as a class we will discuss how the play related to our
theme of recycling.
Peer review: Students will swap their persuasive papers with a partner and peer review.
Students will be asked to correct spelling, ask questions, and ask the reader to expand on
things that they do not understand. Students will then be required to edit and revise their
papers. Papers are due at the end of this unit.
Vocabulary assessment: students will be assessed on the 16 vocabulary words. However,
they will only have to spell and define 8 of the words. They will be able to pick and

choose which words they want to define. Giving students a choice will make this
assessment less intimidating, while still ensuring they understand the vocabulary.
Compost journal entries: students will record one last journal entry for the compost that
they created in a Ziploc baggie. Students will then be encouraged to take this compost
home and use it as soil in their own garden!
I think recycling closure worksheet: students will complete the I think
worksheet and demonstrate what they have learned throughout this unit. This worksheet
will encourage students to think about what we recycle at school, and show their feelings
about recycling and why it is so important.

I Think
1. The best thing about recycling is _______________________________________.
2. I recycle _____________________________________________________________.
3. I wish I could recycle ___________________________________________________.
4. Throwing away recyclables is _____________________________________________.
5. Learning about recycling is ______________________________________________.
6. My favorite thing to recycle is ____________________________________________.
7. My school recycles _____________________________________________________.
8. Sometimes recycling is hard because _______________________________________.
9. I promise not to litter because _____________________________________________.
10. Other things I do to help my environment are ________________________________.

Vocabulary Assessment:
Earth Day

Word BankDefinition:
Reusing waste toDump
make new usable materials
April 22 , people all around the world
Earth day
celebrate this day.
Where all of our trash goes
Any material or substance that can
decomposed by Announce
A synthetic material that can be easily molded
At risk of extinction
Feeling satisfied after achieving something
When a person is in good health

Assignment Checklist
Here is a checklist you can follow to ensure that you have completed all assignments necessary
related to our recycling unit. The checklist is organized by week and after you complete each
activity you can place a checkmark next to the assignment to stay organized.
Week One
Recycling poem
Compost Stew journal entry
Unit theme vocabulary cards
Week Two
Reading journals
Chapter specific questions
Character trait worksheet
Week Three
Reading journals
Novel specific vocabulary cards
Persuasive paper
Week Four
Reading journals
Composting observations
Vocabulary assessment
I think worksheet

Chapter specific questions:
Chapters 1-3

1. Why do you think food supply is a subject close to Freddys heart?

2. Where did the class go to do their research?
3. Why were the students upset on the bus ride home?
4. What is something you do that is wasteful? Draw and describe.
5. What does Hubie mean when he says, Im going to turn over a new leaf.?
6. Who is Mrs. Green?
Chapters 4-6
1. What did Hubie do to help the world?
2. What can you do to make the world a better place?
3. Why do you think Hubie was the only one who took the reports seriously?
4. What did Freddy do with all of the extra food?
5. Good readers create mental images when reading. Think about your favorite part of the story.
Draw and label your visual image.
Chapters 7-9
1. Describe Hubies dream.
2. Why do you think the author called Freddy a Re-cyclops monster? Do you think this is a
good word to describe Freddy? Why or why not?
3. Do you think Off the Deep End was a good title for chapter 9? Why or why not?
4. What does Hubie do to conserve energy when he gets home?
5. What do you think is the funniest thing that has happened in this story? Draw and describe.
Chapters 10-12
1. What do the kids have to bring to school on earth day?
2. What present would you bring for Mother Earth?
3. List 5 facts you learned about earth.
4. Idioms are phrases that have taken on special meanings over time. Idioms cannot be figured
out by looking up the words in the dictionary. Describe the meaning of the idiom that was found
on page 45.

Idiom Ive hit a wall. Literal meaning

Figurative meaning -

Chapters 13-14

1. Did the class like Hubies poem? How do you know?

2. Do you think that Hubies poem had a positive impact on the class? Why or why not?
3. Identify several examples of how this story relates to other texts, to you, and to the world.


4. How did your opinion of protecting the Earth change throughout the story?


Partner plays :
Lets Plant a Garden
Jada: Mom, youve always talked about planting a garden in the far corner of the backyard. Why
havent you ever done it?
Mom: Thats a good question, Jada. To be honest, Ive just never taken the time to make it
happen. Something always seems to come up thats a higher priority.
Jada: Do you know about all of the benefits to our environment there are by growing your own
fruits and vegetables?
Mom: Well, Ive never thought about it from that perspective, but I bet there are several benefits.

Jada: yes, there are. I just read an article about it in the newspaper.
Mom: Really? Please share what you learned with me.
Jada: Sure! First, any food you grow in your own garden doesnt need to be processed or
Mom: I never thought about that, but it makes perfect sense! Any time you dont have to package
something, you are conserving resources!
Jada: Not only that, but growing food in your own garden means that you are saving the
environment of fossil fuel usage!
Mom: Hows that?
Jada: Think about it. It requires fuel to get food from the fields to the grocery store, then, when
most people buy something from the grocery store, they then drive it home!
Mom: Wow- something else I never considered.
Jada: Well, if we had our own garden, you could reuse your coffee grounds as compost!
Mom: Well, that seals the deal then. Will you help me start a garden this spring?
Jada: Id love to! Im sure it will be a lot of work, but I think itll be worth it. Lets hold each
other accountable to get it done!

Grandmas Old Refrigerator

Grandma: Ugh! This old thing! Its not working again.
Mason: Whats not working Grandma?
Grandma: Oh, its this old refrigerator we keep in the garage. I should know better than to store
anything that can spoil in here.
Mason: What a bummer. What did you have in there, anyway?
Grandma: I put some chicken in there when I got home from the store yesterday because the
refrigerator in the kitchen didnt have room for it.

Mason: What? Does that mean there wont be any of your fried chicken for dinner tonight?! Your
fried chicken is the best! Its even better than KFC!
Grandma: well thank you for that compliment, mason. And dont worry. Ill send your grandpa to
the store to get another chicken to fry up.
Mason: Whew! I bet youre disappointed about the money you spent though, arent you?
Grandma: yes, I am. I feel like I just tossed twenty dollars right into the trash!
Mason: Hey! I just remembered this! Have you heard of the Used Appliance Recycling Program
in our state?
Grandma: No, I havent. Whats that about?
Mason: We had a speaker at school for Earth Day last year, and she told us all about it. If I
remember correctly, if you have an appliance that is more than a certain number of years old, you
can call this number. They will come and pick it up and haul it away for you!
Grandma: really? They dont charge you to have them haul it away?
Mason: No! In in fact they pay you like fifty dollars when they come get it.
Grandma: Are you kidding me?! I wonder why they would do that!
Mason: The speaker said that old appliances are energy hogs. Basically, they want to
encourage people to get rid of them and purchase something more efficient instead.
Grandma: I suppose that makes sense. I bet that old thing is an energy hog- when its working
that is! Mason, can I give you the task of finding a phone number for that program for me?
Mason: Sure, Grandma! Im sure I can find that number online for you in a matter of minutes!

The Endless Pile of Mail

Chris: Hi Dad.
Dad: Hey, bud. Did you have a good day at school?
Chris: Yeah, I guess.
Dad: Do you have a lot of homework to do tonight?
Chris: Dad! Its Friday! Im not doing any homework tonight!
Dad: Oh, it is Friday, isnt it? How could I overlook that?
Chris: I have no idea! Hey, will you play catch with me outside?

Dad: Id love to Chris, but I need to dig through this pike of mail that has accumulated here on
the counter over the past week. Its out of control!
Chris: Aww there is a lot of mail there, though.
Dad: You can say that again, its like its never-ending!
Chris: Have you ever thought about using the internet to receive and pay your bills?
Dad: Not really, but maybe I should.
Chris: Yeah, I think you should, Dad. Think of how much paper would be saved here if most of
this came and left the house through the computer.
Dad: Thats true. Over the course of a year, I bet Id save a considerable amount of time just in
opening envelopes, too!
Chris: I thin youre right. Just think of how much extra time youd have to play catch with me!
Dad: Yes, and Im also thinking about how nice it would be to come home to a kitchen counter
that is not piled high with paper!
Chris: I have a question, though. How do you get all those companies that send junk mail to stop
sending it to your address?
Dad: I know there are toll-free numbers that you can call to be removed from mailing lists. I
think I heard that helps get rid of most of the junk mail and catalogs that you never requested.
Chris: Wow, Dad, I sure sounds like a no-brainer to me! Call them!

Size Matters
Sam and Mom are at the grocery store.
Sam: Mom, will you get me some of those pudding cups for once? Lots of kids have those in
their packed lunches and they look good!
Mom: Sorry, Sam, but I cant bring myself to purchase those single-serving containers.
Sam: Why not?
Mom: Well, there are a couple of reasons. Id like you to see if you can figure out at least one
reason why I wouldnt want to buy single-serving cups like that.

Sam: Ugh. I wasnt wishing for a math lesson today at the grocery store. Well, I may as well get
it over with. Single-serve cups like this are more expensive than buying a bigger container and
splitting it into single servings at home right?
Mom: Yep. Not only that, but look at the package of pudding cups on the shelf.
Sam: Yeah what about it?
Mom: Those four single serving pudding cups are also packaged together with paper material.
Even more resources are used in the packaging.
Sam: Yeah, but I would just put that paper packaging in our recycle bin. I guess I dont
understand what the big deal is. When its all recycled eventually anyhow.
Mom: Even though you might recycle it, that doesnt mean that everyone who purchases these
will. Besides that, resources like fossil fuels and electricity are used to make the additional
Sam: Okay, I get it. No pudding cups for me!

The Plastic Bag Brigade

Trina: What did you think of the speaker we had at school today?
Jeff: I found it very interesting! He gave us a lot to think about, thats for sure.
Trina: Yeah, he sure did. Im going to talk to Mom and Dad tonight about buying in bulk more
often. I cant think of any reason they wouldnt agree that it makes sense to buy larger containers
of things like toothpaste, dishwasher detergent and cereal,
Jeff: I think thats a good idea. Ill back you on it! Together, I think we can convince them that
its the right thing to do.

Trina: Me, too.

Jeff: I had another idea I wanted to run by you.
Trina: Ooh! Im all ears!
Jeff: I cant resist first saying that Mrs. Smith would complement you on your use of an idiom!
Trina: Ha! I didnt even know I was using an idiom! I think you deserve the kudos for
recognizing it!
Jeff: Well, thank you! Hey- weve gotten off track. Back to my idea. Remember when the
speaker was talking about how harmful those plastic bags are for our environment?
Trina: Yes, he said they take thousands of years to decay.
Jeff: They are also made of toxic chemicals to begin with.
Trina: Thats right. Everyone uses them, though. What can we really do about the problem?
Jeff: We may not be able to solve the problem all by ourselves, but that doesnt mean we should
do nothing. I think we should start in our neighborhood. I think we should go door-to-door to
explain the problem and collect peoples plastic bags.
Trina: What a great idea! We will educate our neighbors about the problem, and then we can take
the plastic bags we collect to the grocery store and put them in the special containers so they can
be recycled appropriately! Im in!