Last Updated: Monday, May 09, 2022

Explore helping others in the community – early level

What is this?

This learning experience will support children’s understanding of the wider world. They will explore how litter and household waste can be recycled.

The activity is intended to support teachers and practitioners to plan learning experiences for children/young people in their usual setting or while they are learning at home. As well as taking account of national and local guidance relating to Covid-19, the activity should be used or adapted accordingly to consider the range of learners and their prior knowledge and individual circumstances in relation to this learning experience.

Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) experiences and outcomes: Early level

Health and Wellbeing

  • Representing my class, school and/or wider community encourages my self-worth and confidence and allows me to contribute to and participate in society. HWB 0-12a
  • Through contributing my views, time and talents, I play a part in bringing about positive change in my school and the wider community. HWB 0-13a

Social Studies

  • By exploring my local community, I have discovered the different roles people play and how they can help. SOC 0-16a


  • To help care for the environment, I reduce, re-use and recycle the resources I use. TCH 0-06a


  • I have observed living things in the environment over time and I am becoming aware of how they depend on each other. SCN 0-01a

Numeracy and Mathematics

  • I can collect objects and ask questions to gather information, organising and display my findings in different ways. MNU 0-20a

Purpose of the activity

Children will think, discuss, and take part in activities that help care for the environment. In this experience, they will consider how to reduce, re-use and recycle materials used in their everyday lives.

Learning activity

  • Talk to children about their experiences of litter and rubbish. Children should share their experiences of what they see when they are out in their local area. What do they do with their rubbish? Do they recycle their rubbish?
  • Watch the BBC Bitesize video which explores why litter and household waste should be recycled. Discuss and explain what the word ‘recycled’ means. For example, recycling means the piece of rubbish can be used again in some way.
  • You could use some of these questions after watching the video clip:
    • How do the children feel about what litter does to the environment?
    • How can animals be harmed by litter? What can happen to the places animals live if people do not put litter away? Discuss the meaning of the word ‘habitat’.
    • Who should be responsible for looking after the environment?
  • Children could sort a collection of items into recycling boxes and containers. The items will need to be clean and have no edges that are sharp. Talk to the children about why this is important.
  • Children should be encouraged to record the type of materials they are sorting. This could be in the form of a drawing, a tally chart with marks, or any other form of making to communicate their observations.
  • Encourage the children to share their findings and think about what it means. For example, why is there more plastic than paper? What do they think happens to all of the plastic after it is collected from the setting or home?

Extension activity

  • Initiate discussion by asking children what types of litter they see in their local area.
  • Children should watch the CBBC Newsround video clip and think about their local area. How does the video make you feel?
  • Talk with children about the how litter can cause harm in our oceans. Did they know that litter from our streets and parks often gets blown or washed away, ending up in ponds, lakes, rivers and oceans – harming wildlife.
  • Talk with children about something they think they could do in their local community at some point in the future to help with litter.
  • Children could design a poster to share their ideas, knowledge and plans for how they will help keep their local area free of litter and rubbish.

National Benchmarks


  • Describes characteristics of livings things and how they depend on each other, for example, animals which depend on plants for food.


  • Understands what can be reduced, re-used and recycled.

Numeracy and Mathematics

  • Collects and organises objects for a specific purpose.

Possible approach to assessing learning

The following reflective questions could be used to ascertain children’s progress and next steps:

  • To what extent do children share about their understanding of how living things affect each other, with a particular focus on the impact of litter from the human population?
  • How well do children use and display information relating to litter and describe what this means to them?

When planning your approach to assessing learning, please take account of the latest guidance on assessment approaches.