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Seven Types of Plastic

Learning Package 1

Elementary, Middle


This introductory lesson teaches students about the role plastics play in their daily lives.  They explore how much and what type plastic that is placed in the recycling box actually gets recycled.

Students will learn about the seven categories of plastic used by Canadian citizens and which ones can and cannot be recycled in curbside bins via a short video and the review of an infographic with their classmates.  The students will then assess their classroom or school's recycling habits and audit the contents of select recycling bins on the school property.  In conclusion, the students will discuss how they can reduce plastic use in their classroom, school or community and make a commitment on the 10 000 changes website.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

The teaching of specific skills is not the focus of this resource.


  • The resources supplied (the video and infographic) within the lesson plan are interesting and engaging.
  • The lesson plan is well structured and easy to follow.
  • There are suggestions for additional sources of information as well as websites to visit for a more in depth look at the issue.
  • The issue is current locally and globally.


  • The assessment suggestions are not concrete.
  • There are no modifications suggested for struggling learners.

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This lesson plan is a very short and useful introduction for students to the issue of plastics and the environment.  It could be used independently to begin a discussion with students or it could be used to begin the series of lessons for a unit from the website 10 000 Changes. 

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

Themes Addressed

  • Waste Management (3)

    • Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
    • Solid Waste Disposal
    • Source Reduction

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Very Good
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Very Good
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Very Good
Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Good

At the conclusion of the lesson the students visit the website 10 000 Changes and accept one of the challenges listed as an action to decrease their dependence on plastics.

Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Very Good
Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Poor/Not considered

This is not a focus for this resource.

Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Good

The structure of this lesson is entirely indoors but it does foster a concern for the environment and the use of plastics.

Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Very Good

Students will examine the types of plastics they use in their classroom or at home and conduct an audit.

Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Satisfactory

There is a good sense of the present and a positive vision of the future.  The teacher will have to develop the understanding of the past with a video of how our dependence on plastics can to be.

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Very Good

The lesson plan begins with different focus questions which allows for different answers, students are not steered towards one correct answer.

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Good

  • Science
  • Social studies
  • Language Arts

Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Satisfactory
Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.


Differentiated Instruction Good
Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Good

Students will examine the types of plastics they use in their classroom or at home and conduct an audit.

Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory
Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Satisfactory

There are some suggestions made for assessment of student learning but they are not concrete tools that the teacher can use.

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Satisfactory
Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Poor/Not considered

This is not included in this resource.

Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Satisfactory

There is limited choice within the activities of this resource.

Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.