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June 07, 2022

Montessori Toddler: An Interest In Recycling

If you've followed us closely for any length of time then you probably know that Teddy loves trucks. Construction trucks, transportation trucks, city trucks - any and all trucks have his heart. For a long time, garbage day has been super awesome for him as all the trucks come up and down the street. Recently, however, he noticed that the two different trucks stop at our house - the garbage and the recycling. This has spurred an unexpected interest in recycling. So, I thought I would share how we are supporting that interest here at home. 

Real Life Practical Learning - Recycling

The very first thing I do when I notice an interest in one of my children is connect that interest to our real experiences. We want to give children vocabulary and experience with these real life interests. We don't need to run out and buy, or create a ton of things for their shelves, but give them context and understanding of the actual thing that is happening in our environment. 

For his interest in recycling this has looked like: 

  • Watching and talking about the difference in the trucks that come
  • Talking about the difference in the garbage cans
  • Looking for the recycling symbol on different types of materials 
  • Recycling different materials as we finish using them 
  • Bringing the recycling to the outdoor can
  • Talking about the types of materials that can be recycled

*Just a note here, that are recycling company no longer sorts by type. But sorting would another great real life and practical learning opportunity for toddlers. 


Another great way to help children to learn about and expand an interest is through books. As a toddler, Teddy won't sit through long information filled books at this point. And, while I'm sure there are plenty of books that we could read to support this interest, I've stuck with just a couple that we already had. If he was a bit older, or a bit more into lengthy books, I might add a few with a little more information about what happens after the truck picks up the recycling. Here are the couple of books we have been reading:

Shelf Work 

Then finally, when I've noticed an interest I ask myself if there is any shelf work we need that could enhance this interest. For Teddy, the answer is often "no" because he isn't super into shelf work. I also don't think for toddlers we want to go overboard buying or making a ton of things every time they express an interest. Often this is more for us feeling like we need to "teach" then it is for our toddlers' desire to learn about the world. 

I've made one little shelf work for Teddy related to recycling. We found some bubble wrap in a package that was delivered and recycled it into a little fine motor work tray for Teddy. We talked about how we would reuse it, and give it more use. He has really enjoyed it and it's been great work for his little fingers. 

Montessori ideas and activities to support an interest in recycling with a toddler. A look at how to put interests into practice.


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