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Five games for teaching children how to recycle and reuse

Playing is the best way for children to learn. So if you want them to get into the habit of recycling and reusing, the most effective way is with entertaining activities. We have recycling and reuse games that your children will love playing. Take a look!

Recycling and reusing are essential for the environment and children doing this naturally from a young age could make a real difference for our planet in the future. At IKEA, recycling is one of our daily priorities for achieving sustainability, and we know that lots of little actions can lead to big change. That’s why we want to chip in with some fun ideas to teach our little ones to recycle and reuse, so that they can play a part in the great task that lies ahead of us.

1. Customised dustbin


Recycling and waste may seem a little boring to children, so it’s important to stimulate their interest by making things more exciting. One way could be to buy a dustbin in a neutral colour, like black, white or grey, and get them to decorate it. That way, every time they have to recycle their rubbish, they’ll feel more motivated by seeing what they created.

Use some old newspaper as a work surface and use different coloured paints that will work on the bin. If it’s a bin with different compartments, you could use a different colour for each section: blue for paper and cardboard, green for glass, yellow for plastic, cartons and metal, and brown for organic matter. What they draw is up to them. The best thing to do is let their imaginations run wild so that they can really enjoy themselves.

If you’re using several bins rather than one with separate compartments, just follow the same process using a different colour for each bin.

2. Cardboard box street market


Do your kids love playing shopping games? If so, a good way to teach them about giving a new lease of life to the things we have laying around at home is by building a market stall out of a cardboard box. Making the stall will become a game in itself, and the best thing is that they can then keep using it to play. Your children will learn the importance of reusing things and be aware of everything we can do with items already at our disposal.

All you’ll need is a large cardboard box and other bits of packaging from a furniture delivery or something similar. Simply shape it as shown in the photo, cutting an opening in the middle to act as a shopping counter. Naturally, you can customise it to your liking and even paint the name of the shop at the top and decorate it.

3. Little house made from reused wood


The concept here is very similar to the previous one, but this time making a little wooden house decorated with reused wrapping paper. Before you begin, gather all the leftover pieces of wood you have and all the materials you’ll need to make the house: a saw to cut the wood, wood glue, wrapping paper, scissors…

The next step is to jot down the design for the house with the exact measurements. To work out these measurements, take stock of the wood you have available. This step is essential to achieving a good result.

Once you have everything clear, it’s time to cut the wood – this should be done by an adult to prevent any risk. Once you’ve cut all of the wood, including the floor and the walls, just stick them together. Now comes the fun part – decorating it! It’s all about using your imagination and different colours and details to make it unique.

4. Whoever puts their rubbish in the right bin, wins!


If you’ve got more than one bin at home, this game is a perfect way for the kids to learn in a fun way what kind of rubbish goes in each one. To play, simply place the bins in an uncluttered space, gather together all your rubbish and set up a little competition.

Make sure that the area is clear and that the materials aren’t dangerous, to prevent any risks. Once you’ve taken care of that, it’s all about the children identifying the bin that each piece of rubbish goes into and throwing it away (best at a short distance). This little activity will make it much easier for them to remember which bin should be used to throw away each type of rubbish, so that it can then be recycled.

Here’s a video with some extra tips for recycling in the kitchen in no time at all.

    5. Arts and crafts using new and old materials


    Another very effective way to teach the kids the importance of reusing and recycling is for them to learn to combine their new toys or materials with old ones at home. That way, they’ll understand that striking a balance is key.

    For instance, making a toy by stringing together different coloured items you have lying around the house, creating more original combinations. Or decorating a new notebook or exercise book with pieces of card or stickers left over from other handicrafts.

    Which of these activities do you think your little one will like the most? Whichever it is, you’re sure to have fun with the family. And if you need more recycling and reuse ideas, take a look at these articles!

    We love it when customers use our products creatively. Why not try to do something new with them yourself? But do remember, any modifications or changes that you make to IKEA products will prevent them from being resold or used for their original use, thus invalidating IKEA product warranties and your right to return.