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Is it bin night?

Packing up


Suitable for children: 
Skills this activity improves: 
Boy puts paper in recycling bin

What time of the day does your bin get emptied? Is it early in the morning while you are still in bed or later in the day when you are out and about?

Talk to your child about your routine for putting the bin out. The time that it's emptied will tell you when to put it out. If it's very early in the morning you might need to put it out the night before.

Explore with your child where you will put the bin. Do you always put it in the same spot or does it change if you need to put out the recycling bin as well? Will you sometimes need to put it in a different position because of where the cars are parked in the street?

The rubbish bin gets emptied very early in the morning so we can put it at the end of our driveway. The green bin won’t be emptied until the afternoon so we’ll have to put it in a different spot.

Materials you will need

  • Rubbish
  • Bin

Why does this matter?

Talking to your child about when to put the bin out and where to locate the bin will help to develop the concept of time and to develop skills for planning and organising an event. 

As you explore together when to put the bin out you will be using the language of time and location. When children listen to the different language that is used they are able to follow directions and identify how often an event will happen. Listening to the directions helps your child to know how to complete the task. 

'The green bin only goes out every second Monday. It has to go next to the tree.'

What does this lead to?

Helping to put the bin out helps children to develop an understanding that time is a form of measurement. 

When you talk about time as an event or a routine, children are developing an understanding that we can describe time using different language. Time can be represented as a numeral on a clock, an event that happens regularly or as a one-off event. 

The language we use to describe time will help children to plan and to know when an event will occur and how often it will occur. 

When children help with the routine of putting the bin out they are exploring position and movement. As they explore this they are developing spatial awareness.

Language to use

  • Weekday, day, night 
  • Position, location, edge, front, back, forward 
  • Footpath, kerb, driveway 
  • Collection 
  • Time 
  • Bin, rubbish bin, recycling bin, green bin 
  • Lid, red, yellow, green

Questions to use

  • Which bin will get emptied today? 
  • Is the bin full? 
  • Do we need to put it out? 
  • What time of the day is the bin emptied? 
  • How do you know which bin to put out? 
  • Which direction does the bin need to face?

Useful tips

  1. You might also like to take a look at the activities Calendars and Recycling.
  2. Remember to talk to your child in your home language.

More ideas

  1. Make a worm farm for the organic scraps.
  2. Use a calendar to mark which day the bin needs to be put out.
  3. Go on a rubbish hunt around the house to check that all of the bins are empty.

Variation by age

Three to five year olds

  • Borrow books from the library about recycling and organic compost. 
  • Make your own compost bin.

Questions to ask

  • Which bin does the milk carton go in? 
  • Can all food scraps go into the compost? 
  • Where does the rubbish go after it is collected?

Language to use

  • Compost, organic, recycle, cardboard, paper, plant material, waste, organic 
  • Collection, transport, rubbish dump, recycling centre 
  • Decay