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Lesson Plan #: AELP-ENV0077



Identifying Biodegradable Materials

An Educator's Reference Desk Lesson Plan


Submitted by: Lisa Lamotta
School/University/Affiliation: College of Staten Island - CUNY

Date: December 14, 1998

Grade Level(s): 4, 5


    • Science/Environmental Education

Duration: 45 Minutes and four 15 minute follow-ups

Description: In this lesson, students will be able to identify which materials are biodegradable and which are not.

Goals: To define biodegradable and non-biodegradable materials.

Objectives: To identify what materials are biodegradable.

Materials: Six 2 litter plastic bottles with tops partially cut off, soil, water, scraps of vegetables, plastic, wood, metal, paper, styrofoam, labels for each category and tape.


1. Separate children into six groups, and have a recorder, materials manager, reporter, and an observer.
2. Have each materials manager take a label and the materials to match, and a bottle, some soil and tape.
3. Have each group fill the bottle half with soil, then place the items in and cover them with soil.
4. Give each group some water to sprinkle on the soil.
5. Have each group tape the labels onto the bottles.
6. Have each group record their initial observations.
7. Ask the children what they think will happen to these materials.
8. Define biodegradable and non-biodegradable.
9. Write down guesses of which will break down first and last.


Assessment: Follow up. Check up on contents every few weeks and have children record their observations and report back to the class. Ask students what can be down with the materials that can not be broken down easily. Have children discuss their recycling ideas in groups.


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