A Beaver County PA Pre-K Counts teacher, Kim Sabella at Tiny Tot Child Development Center incorporated recycled materials into an engaging STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) activity with her preschool classroom.

Sending out a request to the families, Kim collected lids of all different sizes and colors. Once gathered, the students sorted them by colors and tried to figure out where the lids came from (food products). They even tried to build with them!

Kim says of the activity, “I loved doing this activity with my students. They created structures, sorted, connected with their world and branched out by using magnifying glasses to take a closer look. As a teacher, the unexpected is what makes the lesson successful. That is the beauty of teaching young children.”

This activity was great for vocabulary building, engaging conversations, and discovery of new materials. The students even turned to using magnifying glasses–a complete surprise to Kim! Two of the students went over to the science area and grabbed the magnifying glasses to see the lids up close.

The activity was good for the students for many reasons.

  • First, the preschoolers can see that how items can be recycled and used for other purposes.
  • Next, the students can experiment with non-standard items to build. Typically students build with pre-made blocks, Legos, etc., so by using lids, it gives them a chance to experiment with items that are not uniform. This presents a challenge to the student which encourages deeper problem solving skills.
  • Finally, the students can use these lids in many ways – sorting by color and shape, comparing the lids, making connections with the lids to things they have seen before (milk, ice tea, soap, etc.), engineering activities (balancing lids as the structure grew, understanding how the foundation affects the rest of the structure, etc.) and even art activities, as they could use them in a 3-D art activity.

Kim plans to bring the lids back out and do more math activities, such as counting, comparing sizes and sorting. Her students will also continue to see how they can build different structures with them.

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