THEME: Recycling is one way to keep from wasting natural resources.

GOAL: Students will understand how both trees and recycled paper can be used to manufacture paper and other products.

METHOD: Puppet show or teacher demonstration

SUBJECTS: Performing arts, science

SKILLS: Observing, listening, problem solving, reasoning

MATERIALS: Animal puppet; human puppet; small tub roughly 2' x 1' x 1', labeled "Paper Mill"; bowl; egg beater; paper; crayons; examples of nonrecyclable paper items (e.g., wax paper, foil-coated gum wrappers); examples of items made of recycled paper (e.g., cardboard egg cartons, ticket stubs, toilet paper rolls, copy paper, corrugated cardboard); cardboard tree; saw; rolling pin; small pitcher

TIME: 45 minutes

Getting Started

Ask the children to name different types of paper products and list them on the board. What is paper made from?


  1. Explain to the class that new paper products are generally made from trees, but that, in some cases, paper manufacturers can use recycled paper instead of new wood to produce paper items. Although trees will continue to be harvested for paper goods, the number of trees that are cut can be reduced if paper recycling programs are instituted.
  1. Set up stage on a front desk, along with the cardboard tree.
  1. Introduce the puppets, Rebecca Rabbit and the Logger, and tell the children they have a story to share with them. If possible, have two different adults act out the two parts.


Rebecca: Hi! My name is Rebecca Rabbit. I live here in the forest. Well, it's my nap time, good night.

(Rabbit lies down under cardboard tree. Human puppet with saw enters and starts to cut down the tree. You make saw noises.)

Rebecca: Hey! Hey! What are you doing?

Logger: I've got to cut down this tree so they can make newspaper. (Turns to students.) Does anyone here have newspapers at their house? (Turns to Rabbit.) To put out the paper every day, I have to cut down trees and haul them away.

Rebecca: But you can't do that! A lot of animals need this tree! I use its leaves in my burrow to make it warm. (Turns to students.) Do you know any other animals that might use this tree?

(You will find out what they know and can add to it as needed. For example: birds, bugs, and squirrels live in them; beavers build their homes from them and eat the bark; many animals eat their fruit; animals use them to escape from predators)

Rebecca: (Turns to Logger.) See all the things we need this tree for? How can you take it?

Logger: People want to read the newspaper every day, as well as books and magazines, so I cut down trees and haul them away. (Logger drags tree off desk)

Rebecca: I'm going to follow him. I want to see where he's taking my tree! (Put tub upside down on desk.) I think he brought it here. (Rebecca sticks her head into box and comes out again.) Yes-here it is. (Turns to students.) Can you see inside the mill? (Students say "NO.") Okay, I'll go inside and then tell you what is going on.

(Rebecca goes into box-which rattles and makes factory noises-then comes out).

Rebecca: It sure is loud in there! (Goes back in and comes out.) Now I can tell you how they make paper. First, they chop the tree into tiny pieces and put it in a huge bowl like this-(pretends to put sawdust into bowl) -except that their bowl is as big as this rug (or mention some other object that is about 8-foot square). Next, they pour water into it and stir it up just like this. (Rebecca pretends to pour in water from the pitcher and then uses eggbeater vigorously.)

Boy, am I tired! This takes a lot of energy! (Continues to use eggbeater.) I'm working hard. I'm using up a lot of my energy...Whew! Guess what it looks like now? It looks like hot cereal-Cream of Wheat! Have any of you ever eaten Cream of Wheat?

Now, is the paper you write on wet or dry? Dry? Well, the way they get the water out of this paper soup is with many huge rolling pins. I'm not kidding! They're as long as this room! Guess how many? Over one hundred huge rolling pins! (Put bowl on floor and demonstrate rolling pin on table.)

When they're done, the paper looks like this! (Hold up a piece of paper.) I think I'll draw a picture. (Rebecca scribbles.) I don't like this one, I think I'll throw it away. (Heads for trash can.) Wait a minute. I can't throw this away! This was my tree. It took all that hard work to make this paper. What can I do?

(If children mention recycling, ask them what that means. If they don't, Rebecca can ask them if they've ever heard the word recycling. Students may also mention ways to reuse the paper.)

Recycling means you take the used paper back to the factory and make new paper out of it. I think I'll go back to the factory and see how this is done. (Rebecca sticks her head under the box and pulls it out again.) It's almost the same as when they make new paper, but they don't have to cut down any trees. They use the old paper instead. (Rebecca shreds the paper into the bowl and uses the eggbeater on it, then pulls out another piece of paper, as good as new.)

The people at the factory told me to tell you to make sure you don't recycle Kleenex. And gum wrappers cannot be recycled because they clog up the beaters. No plastic or wax paper either, okay? These things get caught in the drain and could ruin the new paper.

Can you guess what else they were making out of old paper? (Pull out and label whatever examples you have.) Pretty neat, huh? Do you kids have a box in your classroom to collect used paper that can be sent back to be recycled? That's great, you're saving trees from being cut down. (OR, We'll have to get you one so you can save trees from being cut down.) Just remember, no food or tissues in there.

Do you have any questions for me before I go? You know what? After today, I think I'm going to change my name. I think I'm going to call myself RECYCLING RABBIT! Well, it's time to go. Bye!

(The children may want some personal contact with Rebecca after the show, so you may want to have her kiss or shake the hands of the students before she leaves.)



  1. Have students make recycled paper. See Activity 3-5, "Papermaking".
  1. Distribute the attached handout, "How Paper is Recycled." Have the children color the pieces and assemble them in their proper order. Make an enlargement of the pieces to post on the bulletin board.

Source: Kristen Walser