Introduction to Plastics

Age group: 6-15

This page provides you with a snapshot of this activity that inspires students to learn about the secret language of plastics. In this lesson students will learn about the different types of plastics, discover how to identify the unsafe and safer plastics that we use in our daily lives, and be inspired to be part of the solution to plastic pollution!

We recommend that you use the ‘Introduction to Solid Waste’ activity before any of the other activities as it is a good starting point for students to learn about waste and provides a comprehensive overview of how waste is generated and its impacts on animals, the environment and us. If you have already done so and wish to continue to download the rest of this free activity please click on the download icon below. Enjoy!

Objectives:
  • Learn about the different types of plastic and their resin codes.
  • Discover how to identify the different types of plastics.
  • Find out which plastics are unsafe and should be avoided, and which are safer to use.
Participants:

Entire class

Materials:
  • Blackboard or white board.
  • Students need a notebook and pen/pencil to take notes.
  • Print the 7 resin codes and no code flash cards.
  • Print the A3 Plastic Resin Code Chart.
  • Print the kNOw Your Resin Codes student handout (A4).
  • Print the Plastic Resin Code Chart student handout (A4).
  • Bring a plastic item with a resin code (Example: #1 PET water bottle).
Duration:

1-2 class periods
(approximately 50 – 60 minutes)

Skills used:

Communication
Critical thinking
Comprehension

Subjects:

General education
Science
English

Preparation:

  • Read through the information provided in the activity.
  • Familiarise yourself with the steps and examples discussed.
  • Read through the vocabulary at the end of the lesson plan.
  • Refer to the Resin Code Chart for ideas of items you could bring to the class for the plastic treasure hunt (optional).
  • Print one set of the 7 resin codes and no-code flash cards.
  • Print an A3 Plastic Resin Code Chart to display in the classroom.
  • Print or photocopy the kNOw Your Resin Codes and the Plastic Resin Code Chart student handouts on A4 paper so that every student has their own copy.

Instructions:

1 Introduction (2 minutes):

Introduce the lesson to the students and explain that they will learn about the plastic that they use in their daily lives and how to identify different types of plastics.

2 Mind Map Activity (10-15 minutes):

Let students brainstorm as a group to share their ideas on plastics and create a visual mind map on the board.
Note down all their ideas on the board to create a mind map similar to that shown in the example on the following page.

Brainstorm steps:

There are no right or wrong answers.
This is a quick activity designed to get students to think about plastics.
Inform students that the topic of the brainstorm is plastic.
Ask the students what comes to mind when they think of this topic using the following guiding questions:

  • What is plastic?
  • Which things in your life are made of plastic?
  • Look 2 metres around you and tell me what is made of plastic.
  • What is special or different about plastic?
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Included:

Lesson plan (English)
Plastic Resin Code Chart
Plastic Resin Code Flash Cards
2 Student handouts