Trash 2 Treasure

Students explore the options for creative waste utilization and discover how their trash can be turned into treasure. Students then create something useful out of something that would usually be thrown away.

Time required:

Two class blocks with Beyond Recycling Educator (pre/intro day + showcase day), and additional time for building. The most successful classes in the past have done the building as a homework project, involving parents, but building could also occur over 2-3 in class blocks.

Students will:

  • Examine the possibilities of turning trash into treasure
  • Brainstorm ideas of how common day trash can be used creatively to create useable ‘treasures’


  • The 3 R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle) + Compost
  • Rethink, repair, refuse… and other ‘re’ words the class may come up with related to shrinking our ecological footprint.

Don’t Forget

  • Choose a date that the project will be due. Some teachers like to coordinate this projects as part of Earth Day activities. Consider school holidays and when booking this project.  A 2-week time period for project completion is the minimum suggested timeline. Giving up to 4-weeks can also work especially over a holiday, like spring break.
  • If you need a different space than the classroom to display the projects, be sure book the gym or other large space for the event. Don’t forget to coordinate tables that can be utilized to display student projects if using a different space.
  • Be sure to check-in weekly to ensure students don’t forget.  Taking a few minutes each BR class to allow students to give updates or ask questions makes sure the project stays top of mind.
  • Consider if there is storage space available in the classroom so that students could bring in their projects early.  It works best to have the projects due a couple days before the event to ensure that everyone brings them in and to build excitement in the classroom.
  • Discuss with teachers when they will mark this project. Teachers can tour the projects and mark them during the Museum Showcase or Science Fair event.  Some teachers have enjoyed having students verbally present their project to the class. Although this does take up more classroom time.


  • Use this project as an Applied Design, Skills, and Technologies project.
  • Tie in with cleaning up the schoolyard or a nearby stream.  Any treasure found could be used in the artwork (after a thorough cleaning, of course).
  • Display at community Earth Day celebrations (or select projects at the local library).
  • Have a volunteer to come in to photograph the students and their projects.  They could pretend to be from the newspaper OR you could actually invite the local newspaper to attend.



Check out the Imagination Factory’s Trash Matcher