What a waste! Lesson plan 7-11

In this three part activity, children learn about the amount of food packaging the UK disposes of each year, and how much if it is recycled; before designing a campaign to improve recycling and re-use rates in their homes. You can use the lessons when teaching about waste and also when teaching children how to record, analyse and present data using graphs and charts. 

Lesson 1: What is packaging waste? 

Homework activity: How much packaging do you use at home? 

Lesson 2: Creating graphs 

Lesson 3: How much do we throw away across the country?

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  • Age groups: 7-11s
  • Subjects: Design & technology, Mathematics, Science, PSE
  • Topics: Waste




Pupils should be taught to:


·         interpret and present data using bar charts, pictograms and tables

·         interpret and present discrete and continuous data using appropriate graphical methods, including bar charts and time graphs.

·         solve comparison, sum and difference problems using information presented in bar charts, pictograms, tables and other graphs.

·         Interpret and construct pie charts and line graphs and use these to solve problems



Working scientifically

During years 3 and 4, pupils should be taught to use the following practical scientific methods, processes and skills through the teaching of the programme of study content:

·         asking relevant questions and using different types of scientific enquiries to answer them

·         gathering, recording, classifying and presenting data in a variety of ways to help in answering questions

·         recording findings using simple scientific language, drawings, labelled diagrams, keys, bar charts, and tables

·         reporting on findings from enquiries, including oral and written explanations, displays or presentations of results and conclusions

·         using results to draw simple conclusions, make predictions for new values, suggest improvements and raise further questions


Working scientifically

During years 5 and 6, pupils should be taught to use the following practical scientific methods, processes and skills through the teaching of the programme of study content:

·         recording data and results of increasing complexity using scientific diagrams and labels, classification keys, tables, scatter graphs, bar and line graphs

·         reporting and presenting findings from enquiries, including conclusions, causal relationships and explanations of and degree of trust in results, in oral and written forms such as displays and other presentations


Properties and changes of materials

Pupils should be taught to:

·         compare and group together everyday materials on the basis of their properties, including their hardness, solubility, transparency, conductivity (electrical and thermal), and response to magnets

·         give reasons, based on evidence from comparative and fair tests, for the particular uses of everyday materials, including metals, wood and plastic





Information handling

Data and analysis


Having discussed the variety of ways and range of media used to present data, I can interpret and draw conclusions from the information displayed, recognising that the presentation may be misleading. MNU 2-20a

I have carried out investigations and surveys, devising and using a variety of methods to gather information and have worked with others to collate, organise and communicate the results in an appropriate way. MNU 2-20b

I can display data in a clear way using a suitable scale, by choosing appropriately from an extended range of tables, charts, diagrams and graphs, making effective use of technology. MTH 2-21a


Social studies

People, place and environment

I can discuss the environmental impact of human activity and suggest ways in which we can live in a more environmentally-responsible way. SOC 2-08a



Technological developments in society and business

Impact, contribution and relationship of technologies on business, the economy, politics, and the environment

I can analyse how lifestyles can impact on the environment and Earth’s resources and can make suggestions about how to live in a more sustainable way. TCH 2-06a


Craft, design, engineering and graphics

Exploring uses of materials

I can recognise basic properties and uses for a variety of materials and can discuss which ones are most suitable for a given task. TCH 2-10a





Developing numerical reasoning

Identify processes and connections

·         transfer mathematical skills to a variety of contexts and everyday situations

·         select appropriate mathematics and techniques to use

Represent and communicate

·         explain results and procedures clearly using mathematical language

·         select and construct appropriate charts, diagrams and graphs with suitable scales


·         draw conclusions from data and recognise that some conclusions may be misleading or uncertain


Using data skills

Collect and record data / Present and analyse data / Interpret results


Learners are able to:


·         represent data using:

o   lists, tally charts, tables, diagrams and frequency tables

o   bar charts, grouped data charts, line graphs and conversion graphs

o   pictograms where one symbol represents more than one unit using a key

·         extract and interpret information from an increasing range of diagrams, timetables and graphs (including pie charts)


Design and technology


Pupils should be given opportunities to:

·         Investigate how existing products look and function as a source fo ideas for their own products



Pupils should be given opportunities to develop their design and technology capability through:

·         Tasks in which they explore and investigate simple products in order to acquire technological knowledge and understanding that can be applied in their designing and making

·         Tasks in which they learn about the responsible use fo materials, considering issues of sustainability


Personal and social education (PSE)
Active citizenship

Learners should be given opportunities to:

·         Participate in school life


Sustainable development and global citizenship

Learners should be given opportunities to:

·         Take an active interest in varied aspects of life in school and the wider environment

And to understand:

·         How the environment can be affected by the decisions we make individually and collectively


Pupils should be given opportunities to:

·         Communicate clearly by speech, writing, drawings, diagrams, charts, tables, bar charts, line graphs, videos, and ICT packages, using relevant scientific vocabulary



Pupils follow the planned approach/method, revise it where necessary, and where appropriate:

·         Make comparisons and identify and describe trends or patterns in data and information



Interdependence of organisms

Pupils should use and develop their skills, knowledge and understanding by investigating how animals and plants are independent yet rely on each other for survival.

They should be given opportunities to study:

·         How humans affect the local environment


The sustainable Earth

Pupils should use and develop their skills, knowledge and understanding by comparing the Earth with other planets, investigating materials around them and considering the importance of recycling.

They should be given opportunities to study:

·         The properties of materials relating to their uses

·         How some materials are formed or produced

·         A consideration of what waste is and what happens to local waste that can be recycled and that which cannot be recycled


Northern Ireland


Mathematics and Numeracy

Processes in mathematics

Communicating Mathematically

Pupils should be enabled to:

·         Understand mathematical language and use it to discuss their work and explain their thinking

·         Present information and results clearly


Handling data

Collecting, Representing and Interpreting Data

Pupils should be enabled to:

·         collect, classify, record and present data drawn from a range of meaningful situations, using graphs, tables, diagrams and ICT software;

·         explain their work orally and/or through writing and draw conclusions;

·         interpret a wide range of tables, lists, graphs and diagrams, create and interpret frequency tables, including those for grouped data;

·         design and use a data collection sheet, interpret the results, enter information in a database or spreadsheet, and interrogate and interpret the results;


The World Around Us


Pupils should be enabled to:

·         the effect of people on the natural and built environment over time.


Science and Technology

·         Why materials are chosen for their use.

·         How waste scan be reduced, reused or recycled and how this can be beneficial.


Personal Development and Mutual Understanding

Mutual understanding in the local and wider community

Pupils should be enabled to explore:

·         Playing an active and meaningful part in the life of the community and being concerned about the wider environment.

Relationships in the Community:

·         Developing an understanding of their role and responsibility as consumers in society.