Bag It: Recycling Plastic Bags

A lowly plastic grocery sack may not seem like a versatile tool for the classroom, but don’t overlook all the uses for this free and easy-to-find item. Start with these ideas, then build on your own brainstorms:

Create Textures
Wrap sacks around toilet paper tubes or paint rollers. Roll over wet paint-covered paper to create textures.

Paper Mache
Inflate and tie shut, then cover with paper mache for pinatas or replicas of globes or the solar system.

Cut into strips and weave together or braid.

Strength Test
Use rock or sand to test the strength of the handles or the bag itself. Measure weight by hanging the bag from a fish scale.

Landfill Estimation
Estimate the difference of mass of plastic bags and paper sacks when tossed in the landfill. Calculate for a household per year, and for an entire city per year.

Ecology Time Capsule
Try testing the biodegradability of plastic bags over several months. Bury outdoors and dig up before school lets out for the summer.

Guessing Game
Put small items in a bag and tie shut. Students guess contents by feel only.

Substitute Sack
Leave a gift bag for a substitute teacher with a can of soda (or money to buy one), snacks and a thank you note. Tie shut with ribbon.

Nature Study
Bags are handy to send home with each student to bring leaves, seeds, plants or anything else you might need for science projects.

Clean Up
Keep on hand as containers for wet clothes, leaky lunches or other messes in the classroom.

Rainy Days
A bag easily folds and fits in a pocket on field trips as an emergency cover for a cell phone, pager or camera. Use two as shoe coverings.

Classroom Tote
Store mini blackboards or whiteboards and their related supplies, one per student. Also use for markers and other art supplies.

How to Store
Spread flat and stack, then lay a large book on top of the stack. All the air will be pushed out and they’ll take up nearly no room at all.

Backpacks-I teach Pre-K students. They tend to forget to bring backpacks and have lots of papers and projects to go home. They go to the bag tub and take out an old grocery plastic bag. They slip their take-home articles inside and the handles are perfect to slip their arms through to hold it on their back.
By T2T Contributor, Gail Carter, San Jacinto Elementary, Amarillo, TX