"Good Again" Upcycle Project

Division 15 Dragons

A J McLellan Elementary
  • Grade 2
Photo Essay (3–10 images)

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“Good Again “ Upcycling Project

DIv. 15 Dragons

AJ McLellan School


Big Idea: Individuals have rights and responsibilities as global citizens.


In the spirit of recognizing that each of us can help make our world a better place, our class project had each student designing and creating an upcycled product using materials collected at home and school.

Our class of seven and eight year old students has grown up knowing about recycling, but upcycling is a new concept for the children. Recycling is good, but upcycling is better! Recycling is turning what we normally throw away into something we can use again either, in its current form or as something else. Upcycling is taking something we normally recycle and transforming it into something more valuable, for example a bracelet made from magazine pages or a kite made from a plastic bag.

We create too much waste, and upcycling is a fun way to reduce the amount of garbage we generate. In this STEM project, students were to design a product from items that would otherwise end up in the trash or recycling. The item may be something that they can use themselves, or give as a gift.


A list of suggested items that they could find at home and might be able to use in their designs included:

  • T-shirts
  • Empty K-Cups and used coffee filters
  • Empty bottles, jugs, and containers with lids
  • Broken jewelry and old toys
  • Toilet paper rolls and paper towel tubes
  • Newsprint, magazines, and old books
  • Paper and plastic bags
  • Boxes (Kleenex, cereal, baby wipes)
  • Egg cartons
  • Plastic utensils
  • Candy wrappers
  • Juice pouches and juice boxes


Although this project was student-led, parents were asked to assist their children in collecting clean items that they could use for their upcycling project. On February 24 children were invited to bring their partially completed projects to school to continue to work on them. Materials such as staples, tape, paint, glue gun, paper, string, yarn, wire etc. were available for them to use.

Students were also provided with an “Upcycling booklet” to accompany their projects, and this was completed both at home and at school. The booklet invited the children to first imagine the possibilities and then design a blueprint. After creating their products, the students were invited to test them to see what worked well and what didn’t work well, and then to think of how they could inspire others to upcycle.

The enthusiasm was contagious as children brought their partially completed projects to school, Each child was excited and engaged as they worked on their own creations with the help of the teacher and a class parent. The next day children were invited to demonstrate their products, tell the stories of designing and making their products, and explain how their products contribute to themselves, their families, their communities and their environments. Children were so inspired by their classmate’s creations, and they couldn’t wait to take them home!

It is hoped that these young students will be inspired to see upcycling as something they can do to help the world amidst the many environmental issues facing us today.



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