The appearance of a garbage truck has a curious effect on a busy playground. Kids suddenly stop playing to stare at the garbage truck at work. They watch in awe as the noisy truck grabs a dumpster, hoists it into the air and empties it before returning it to the ground with a resounding metal clang. Build on kids’ fascination with garbage trucks by explaining what happens to the garbage. Teach kids about reducing the amount of garbage we use through games and art activities.
Discuss the kinds of objects people throw away and make a collage in the shape of a garbage truck. Help kids draw the cab of a garbage truck on one end of a large sheet of butcher paper. Kids can paint paper plates black and glue them to the bottom edge of the butcher paper for wheels. Give kids old magazines and have them cut out pictures of empty egg cartons, boxes, bags, cans and other objects. Kids can glue the pictures onto the butcher paper to fill up the garbage truck.
Challenge kids to a game of trash can toss. Let kids scrunch several sheets of newspaper into balls. Stand about 10 feet from an empty trash can and take turns tossing as many newspaper balls into the trash can as possible. Players earn a point each time the ball lands in the trash can. At the end of the game, save the newspaper and reuse it later or discard it in the recycling bin. Instead of newspaper, try tossing golf balls or water balloons into the trash can.
Find out what happens to trash after the garbage truck comes. Help kids draw a map of the neighborhood, including parks, stores, schools and other landmarks. Follow the truck on its collection route, letting your child mark each stop on the map with a sticker. Let kids use a different sticker to indicate homes or businesses that also had a recycling container. Continue following the truck to the landfill or waste collection center to bring your journey to a close.
Talk to kids about the value of recycling while making a garbage truck art project from recycled materials. Help kids cut out a large cardboard rectangle, a medium-size triangle and a medium-size square from a cereal or tissue box. Kids can glue the rectangle onto a piece of construction paper for the body of the garbage truck. Show kids how to position the triangle next to it to create the part of the truck that opens in back. Kids can glue the triangle in place, then glue the square on the opposite side of the rectangle for the cab. Turn juice can lids, bottle caps or small paper plates into wheels by gluing them in place.