Lesson Overview:

This lesson teaches the 3 R’s–Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. It was originally written as an ELL lesson plan, so it gives great detail to language development by strictly following the SIOP model. Although the lesson is part of a unit on pond life, and therefore, assumes students have had exposure to pollution of such a waterway, it can easily be adapted to suit many different circumstances. In particular, students receiving special education services or reading support would greatly benefit from this lesson. Details for small group collaboration as well as adapted texts for beginner, intermediate and advanced readers are included.


Tell that some words that contain “re” at the beginning mean “again”.
Tell the meaning of reduce, reuse, and recycle.
List three ways humans can reduce, reuse, and recycle in order to help eliminate pond pollution.

Time Allotment: 1 hour

Learning Strategies:

Key Vocabulary:
reduce, reuse, recycle, again, recycle bin, recycle truck, containers, plastic bags

Adapted text for each level, adapted poster outline (1 per group), 1 set of colored pencils (per group), 1 set of markers (per group), 1 poster board (per group)

The lesson will begin with the teacher reading the content objectives aloud and the language objectives. Next, the students will be asked to recall the ways in which ponds are polluted (pictures and vocabulary from previous lesson will be shown)-air pollution from factories and cars enters the water through rain, herbicides and pesticides (chemicals) run off from farmlands, and trash thrown out by humans.

The students will asked to close their eyes and to visualize the day we, as a class, went on our field trip to our local pond. They will be told that in their minds, they are going to go back to that place. They will be asked to recall the warm sun shining bright on their face, the wind in their hair, the smell of the fresh water and the flowers, the sound of the birds singing, and the beauty of the green grass, the lily pads, the trees, and the animals that surrounded us. The students will be asked how the pond makes them feel. The students will be asked to keep visualizing. They will be told that we are going to visualize another trip to the pond. This time, when we arrive, the pond does not look the same. The water doesn’t look the same. It looks like it is full of weeds and it smells bad. We don’t hear the birds or see any animals. The tall grass that was around the lake has died, the lily pads are dead, and there is trash everywhere-plastic bags, soda cans, bottles and paper cups. As we walk the smell gets worse. _________ shouts out, “Eewww, there is a dead fish with flies all over it!” The students will be asked how the pond makes them feel. The students will be asked, what happened to our pond? The students should be able to express that it has been polluted.

The students will be asked to think about what we can do as humans to stop the pollution of ponds. The responses will be listed on the board. The students will be told that they are going to read about some different ways we can help stop pollution in our environment. Students will be given a selected text about the 3 R’s (adapted according to ability level) to read independently. As students read, they will be encouraged to make marginal notes of words they do not understand or any questions they may have. The students will be given 5-7 minutes to read their text. I will then begin reading the text aloud and pausing to explain key concepts and vocabulary.

As a group, we will investigate words that contain the prefix “re” by engaging in a Word Generation activity. The words “reduce”, “reuse”, and “recycle” will be written on the board. Each word will be defined and examples of each will be given. The students will be asked to think about what the words have in common. They should recognize that they all have “re” at the beginning. Also, that two of the words mean to use again. Students will be asked to think of additional words that start with “re” (assistance will be provided). The words will be written on the board and defined. As a group, we will discover which ones mean “to do again”. For example, rebuild, reheat, recall, reopen, etc. Students will be asked to write the prefix “re” with the definition of “again” in their journals. They will also be asked to divide their papers into thirds using their pencils. In the first column they will write the words “reduce”, “reuse”, and “recycle”. In the second column, beside each word, they will write the definition of each. The students will then be asked to rehearse the information with a partner once they are done writing.
2-As a whole group, we will categorize the words/phrases previously listed on the board using a List-Group-Label activity. The students will be guided as they determine the following categories: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. *Based on how many words/phrases the students previously generated, the students may be asked if there are any they would like to add (ideas may be gathered from their reading of the text). The students will then add an example of each (reduce, reuse, and recycle) in the third column of their journals. The students will then be asked to rehearse the information they wrote (word, definition, and an example) with a partner once they are done writing.
3-The students will be introduced to the activity. Working in pairs, students will design and create a poster that will be hung in the school. Each poster must present the Three R’s and give an example of each. The goal of the poster is to teach other kids how to help stop pollution. Each pair will be given a poster board, colored pencils, and markers. A rough draft of the poster will first be designed using an outline provided (based on ability level). Each completed outline will be approved by the teacher before the poster board is assigned. Students will have thirty minutes to work on their designs. Each group will then present their poster to the class.

The content covered will be rehearsed as each group orally presents their poster.
Students will be assessed according to their ability to:
1) State that “re” at the beginning of a word can mean “again”.
2) State the Three R’s and tell what each means.
3) Complete a pollution poster (using the leveled outline) in which three examples of how to reuse, reduce, and recycle will be given.

Possible extensions for this lesson would be:
1) Children work in pairs or small groups and develop a skit to teach others how to use the Three R’s. The skits could then be performed to various classes.
2) Students could write a letter to their local library to ask for permission to display their posters to educate the community.
3) Have a contest to see who can build the most interesting displays using recycled materials.