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Taking Care of the Environment

Activity Information:

Grade Appropriate Level: 1-3
Duration: 45 minutes - 1 hour
Materials: squares from six different brands of toilet paper, six jars with lids, six labels, a marker, chart paper to record process and results


By participating in a class experiment on the biodegradability of various brands of toilet paper, students will learn about the Scientific Method while finding a practical pollution solution they can utilize at home.

Prescribed Learning Outcomes:

Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, Personal Planning

  • Students will read the story Log Hotel and record information in their journals.

  • Students will examine the process of decay and learn new vocabulary.

  • Students will demonstrate social responsibility through working in groups

  • Students will keep a tally of their findings.

  • Students will employ the 3L’s when studying nature: Look, Learn, Leave it


  • Measuring, recording, hypothesizing, observing, interpreting

Toilet roll - Environment.png

Suggested Instructional Strategies:

  • Give brief examples to the students as you explain each of the new vocabulary words: hypothesis, procedure, observation, and conclusion.

  • Ask students if they have heard of the word biodegradable. Let students offer their ideas and give them a moment to discuss some things that they think or know to be biodegradable (youtube video link for help).

  • Develop a definition for biodegradable and write it in the centre of a large chart paper. In a web format around the word, record items they think or know to be biodegradable and also record and discuss reasons why it is important to take care of the environment.

  • Create a large chart to record the experiment and place it up on the class chalkboard for easy visibility. Fill in the chart as you proceed step by step through the experiment.

  • Taking the various brand samples that students have brought from home, cut a small piece of each brand (postage stamp size).

  • Place each sample in its own jar (small, wide-mouth mason) labelling each jar with the appropriate brand name.

  • Fill the jar with water and put the lid on tight.

  • Shake each jar 20 times (have the kids count with you as you shake).

  • In small groups and then as a class, discuss predictions about which brand of toilet paper will be the most and least biodegradable.

  • Leave the jars for a week. Shake again. Check the results and record the final steps on the chart.

  • Discuss the conclusion and re-visit the predictions of students. Take the news home!

NOTE: For older grades, the lesson plan should be adapted so that students keep their own tracking sheet and complete each section while performing the class experiment. Students can also be encouraged to clip media articles on the subjects of biodegradability by obtaining newspapers/magazines and through web searches. Ask them to contact groups such as the Western Canada Wilderness Committee and the Canadian Pulp and Paper Association to compare and contrast points of view and information. Teachers might consider asking a representative from both groups and others to visit the classroom for a presentation.

Suggested Assessment Strategies:

  • Teacher observations of students’ level of participation in lesson and experiment

  • Assess student knowledge of each of the vocabulary words related to the Scientific Method.

  • Optional: The teacher could have the students complete a K-W-L (Know, Wonder & Learn) about biodegradability. This could be another form of assessment.

Cross-Curricular Interests:

  • Environment and Sustainability

  • Media Education

  • Special Needs

Download the PDF version of the 

Taking Care of the Environment Activity below:

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