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Art Recycled: Making Art from Found and Recycled Materials

Subject: Art

Grade: 5

Lesson Objective

Introduce students to using found and recycled materials to create art, encourage creativity, and challenge their creativity and problem-solving skills, asking them to create unique and original items using unconventional and waste materials.

Common Core Standards

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.5.2: "Paraphrase the main ideas and supporting details of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally." 

  • You will address this standard as students listen to and discuss examples of artwork made from recycled materials and as they share and explain their artwork with the class.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.5.4: "Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace."

  • You will address this standard as students share and explain their artwork with the class.

Materials Needed

Assorted found and recycled materials such as:

  • Cardboard boxes
  • Paper
  • Plastic bottles
  • Bottle caps
  • Paper clips, etc.
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Markers
  • Crayons
  • Other art supplies relevant and necessary

Lesson Starter

  • Begin the lesson by asking students to share their experiences with recycling or reusing materials. 
  • Ask them what they know about the importance of recycling and how it can help the environment.


"Today, we're going to learn about a different way to create art. Instead of using traditional art supplies like paint and paper, we will use materials that we find - things that we might normally consider waste or trash. This approach to art-making is not only fun and creative, but it's also good for the environment because it helps to reduce waste."

  • Introduce the concept of using found and recycled materials to create art.
  • Explain that artists can use all sorts of materials, including things that might normally be considered trash, to make unique and creative artwork.
  • Provide students with examples of artwork made from recycled materials, such as sculptures made from cardboard or collages made from magazine clippings.
  • Ask students to consider the environmental benefits of using recycled materials in art. 


"As you work, think about the environmental benefits of using recycled materials in art.

  1. How does this approach help to reduce waste and protect the planet?
  2. How might it inspire creativity and originality?
  3. How does using recycled materials help to reduce waste and protect the planet?
  4. How might this approach to art-making inspire creativity and originality?"

Main Lesson/Activity

  1. Give students time to explore and gather materials from the collection of found and recycled materials. Encourage them to think creatively and develop their own ideas for what to make.
  2. Remind them that the materials they choose don't have to be traditional art supplies - they can use anything they find interesting or inspiring.
  3. Once students have collected their materials, give them time to create artwork using their gathered materials. 
    • Say: "I can't wait to see what you all come up with! I know you're all going to surprise me with your creativity and resourcefulness."
  4. Encourage them to be creative and think outside the box. They can use their materials to create two-dimensional artwork, such as collages or drawings, or they can use them to create three-dimensional sculptures or other types of artwork.
  5. As students work, circulate the room to offer assistance and encouragement. Encourage students to ask for help, take risks, and try new things as they work. 


"If you get stuck or need help, don't hesitate to ask! I'm here to support you as you explore and create. And remember, there's no such thing as a mistake in art - every mistake is an opportunity to learn something new and can be further explored for artistic value or meaning."


  • At the end of the lesson, have students share their artwork with the class. Encourage them to describe their process and explain the materials they used.
  • Discuss the significance of the used items, asking for their input.
    • Such as why they only worked with paper products. 
  • Ask them to discuss their challenges and how they solved or overcame them.
  • Provide feedback on the creativity and originality of the student's artwork and their use of found and recycled materials.
  • Emphasize the importance of being resourceful and finding creative solutions to problems.
    • Ask your students if they will attempt to create this type of art again. 
  • Discuss the environmental benefits of using recycled materials in artwork. 

Written by Violet A.
Education World Contributor
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