Activities and Lesson Plans

Cover-Garbage Getters

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Garbage Getters

Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine,
April 2010


You may print Garbage Getters children's pages from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine. We hope you'll consider a subscription to our magazine. Be sure to check out the Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine special offer for teachers. And please let us know your suggestions for future issues at:

Suggested Topics: regions of Texas, geography, settlement, history, plants and animals, diversity, adaptation, conservation

Related 4th Grade TEKS:

Social studies:
4.23 B, C, D: Social Studies Skills : Communicates in Written, Oral and Visual Forms
4.12 B: Economics : Impact of Supply and Demand in Free Enterprise
4.1 A: Scientific Processes: Conducts Field and Laboratory Investigations
4.2 A, B, C, D: Scientific Processes: Develops Abilities to do Scientific Inquiry in Field and Laboratory
4.3 A, C: Scientific Processes: Uses Critical Thinking and Scientific Problem Solving to Make Informed Decisions
4.4 A, B: Scientific Processes: Use a variety of tools and methods to conduct science inquiry.
4.5 A, B: Science Concepts : Parts Removed from Complex Systems
Language Arts:
4.27 A: Listening, Speaking, Purposes : Listens Actively and Purposefully in a Variety of Settings

Discussion Questions

  • What is the theme for this month's Keep Texas Wild? Why is it important?
  • Name an animal that is part of the clean up crew on land; in the water; from the air; and underground.
  • What is compost? How is it used?
  • How do earthworms work?
  • To think about: what is a system? What is an ecosystem? When a plant or animal dies, does it have a role in an ecosystem?


Create a compost bin!

Create a worm habitat.

Learn how long things take to decompose in this Marine Debris timeline. Do a litter clean up and sort what you find. How long will things take to decompose? What is the source of the litter? What can nature's clean up crew handle? How can your school/community prevent or decrease human litter?

Project WILD activity suggestions

  • Eco-Enrichers - Students experiment with soil and earthworms. Upon completion student evaluate the importance of plant and animal matter as contributors to soil; and recognize that wildlife in many forms contributes to the diversity and balance of ecological systems. Requires enough soil from the same source to fill 3 (1'X1'X1') containers; earthworms; composting material.
  • Energy Pipeline - Students simulate organic production and energy loss in ecosystems. The class acts as a growth assembly line that becomes increasingly complex with each round. Upon completion students explain why energy dissipates; contrast the transfer of energy and the recycling of organic material; and relate the role of each tropic level to ecosystem changes. Requires large bucket of pea-sized gravel or tokens or dried beans; large empty bucket; labeled Used-Up Calories; a box of reusable plastic sandwich bags; copies of metabolism cards for each pair of students; 52 plastic cups, one for each metabolism card; 6 small paper cups; 3X5 cards; transparency marking pens. A whistle and colored gravel is optional.
  • Which Niche?- Students compare ecological niches with careers in their community. Upon completion students define ecological niche; and give at least one example of an animal and its niche. Requires guest speaker; research materials.
  • Marsh Munchers (Aquatic) - Students use body movement and pantomime to simulate the feeding motions of marsh animals. Upon completion students identify components of a food web in a salt march; and identify their interconnectedness in the food web. Requires timer; construction paper for tokens; predator feeding behavior cards; detritus eater cards; and one envelope per student.
  • Micro Odyssey (Aquatic) - Students examine, draw, paint and identify microorganisms in pond water. Upon completion students identify forms of microscopic life that live in water and describe how various aquatic organisms relate to one another. Requires pond water; hand lenses; magnifiers; nets; microscopes; slides; cover slips; eyedroppers; writing materials; identification guides; art supplies; paints; poster board or easel paper; and tape.