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Lesson #1845. Edible Landfill

Posted by mary, Clarkston, USA (
Science, level: Elementary; Materials Required: Lots---see below--this is pricey, but worth it
Activity Time: allow 1 hour and do it AFTER lunch; Concepts Taught: Following directions, cooperating, sharing

I got this activity from a third-grade teacher, who got it from an ecology workshop several years ago. It works best with 2-3-4's. If you can take a field trip to your local landfill beforehand, and if you make an overhead showing the different levels in a LF, this activity will mean more to the kids than just a snack. Fits nicely into discussion on ecology, waste, packaging, etc. Get comfy, this is a
long one.


  • dish pan (to hold messy stuff if sink not available)
  • 2 plastic/vinyl dropcloths or tablecloths
  • 2 spatulas - roll of paper towels - 1 sharp knife
  • 1 large zip-top plastic baggie - 2 rolling pins
  • waxed paper - 2 large, deep bowls
  • 2 egg beaters (the machine, not the fake eggs :) )
  • 2 graham cracker pie crusts in foil pans (unbaked)
  • 1 box fruit roll-ups (you need 8-10 roll-ups, total)
  • 2 packages graham crackers - 2 handfulls coconut
  • 2 boxes (reg. size) INSTANT vanilla pudding
  • 1/2 gal. cold milk, either 2% or whole (1% and skim won't let the puddinG set up)
  • 1 6 oz. pkg. chocolate chips (get the cheapest)
  • 1 large pkg. regular Oreos - green food coloring
  • 8 pieces licorice, each about 3-4" long

WHAT YOU DO: Everybody wash hands. Divide class into 2 groups. You will need 2 areas on the floor for this. Keep all of the wrappers, etc. from this stuff; you'll use them later.

  • put tablecloths/dropcloths down to protect floor
  • have kids sit around edge of cloth
  • place pie crust (HOLE IN GROUND FOR LANDFILL) w/o wrapper in center of each 'tarp'
  • line crust with strips of fruit roll-ups (PLASTIC LINER)
  • following directions, mix pudding in bowl. stir in half of the choc. chips (you have split 1 bag between the 2 groups)and let set up (GARBAGE)
  • put graham crackers between 2 pieces of waxed paper and roll w/rolling pin to crush (GRAVEL) and sprinkle in pie shell on top of roll-ups
  • cover the crushed gr. crkrs. with half of the pudding mixture, set the rest aside
  • crush Oreos (DIRT)(again, you've given each group half a pkg)like you did the gr. crkrs. and sprinkle some on top of pudding mess/mixture
  • continue to layer pudding and Oreos till pan is full
  • put coconut in plastic bag, add green food coloring,
  • MAKE SURE BAG IS SEALED, and shake till coconut turns green (GRASS)
  • sprinkle 'grass' on top of 'garbage' in pie pan
  • poke licorice down thru mixture in four areas for WELLS
  • let landfill set up for a few minutes, then cut as for pie, cut those sections in half, serve

While landfill is setting up, have discussion on how much trash you got from the activity (packaging, etc.), recycling, trash, etc. This recipe makes enough for 1 class. I have also made it in a 9x9" pan, instead of the pie shells, and that works well also, but you have to make a graham cracker crust first (don't have to bake it, tho). I did this activity in a college class when getting my degree and got a standing ovation! It is not original, as stated before, and I have no idea who created it. There are enough things to do that almost every child in the class can have a job--taking wrapper off Oreos, putting 'tarp' down, etc.



1878. Bag A Student (Elementary,)
1877. Presidential Campaign (Middle,Reading/Writing)
1876. Transportation (Elementary,Social Studies)
1875. Mouse Paint (Elementary,Literature)
1874. The Human Support System and Nervous System (Middle,Science)

1873. Famous Scientist Wanted Poster (Middle,Science)
1872. The Crowd (Senior,Art)
1871. Themes and Book Projects (Elementary,Building Blocks)
1870. Short Story Motivator (Senior,Literature)
1869. Short Story Motivator (Senior,Literature)

1868. Name Corner (all,Building Blocks)
1867. second grade writing lessons (Elementary,4 Blocks)
1866. Ocean Unit (Middle,Science)
1865. Name and Word Scrabble!! (Elementary,Building Blocks)
1864. Puritan ABC's (Senior,Language)

1863. How Much is a Million? and Number Sense (Elementary,Mathematics)
1862. Diversity:Respect Our Differences (Middle,other)
1861. Relationships in Geometry (Elementary,Mathematics)
1860. 180 Journal Topics (Elementary,Reading/Writing)
1859. "Has The Cat Got Your Tongue" (Elementary,Language)

1858. Safe school climate, Don't tease program (all,other)
1857. Tongue Twisters (all,)
1856. How Gills Work (all,Science)
1855. Figuras Geometricas Planas (Elementary,Mathematics)
1854. El reino animal (Pre-School,Science)

1853. Adición (all,)
1852. Gramatica (Elementary,other)
1851. CONTEMOS (Elementary,)
1850. Adición (Elementary,Mathematics)
1849. Weight/Mass (Middle,Mathematics)

1848. Identificar combinaciones básicas de un solo digito (Elementary,Mathematics)
1847. Las plantas (Elementary,Science)
1846. Figuras en el espacio (all,Mathematics)
1845. EDIBLE LANDFILL (Elementary,Science)
1844. Water Cycle (Elementary,Science)

1843. Water Safety (Elementary,)
1842. Daily Graphing Activities (Elementary,Mathematics)
1841. Feeling Masks (Pre-School,Art)
1840. Water Safety (Elementary,Phys Ed)
1839. Mexican Food (Elementary,Language)

1838. Visual representation of Reduced Fat (Middle,Mathematics)
1837. Stats on Rdeuced-Fat (Middle,Mathematics)
1836. Loci for beginners (Middle,Mathematics)
1835. Driving in Environmental Conditions (Senior,other)
1834. The solar system (Elementary,Science)

1833. The Four P's of Marketing (Senior,other)
1832. The Four P's of Marketing (Senior,other)
1831. Do you hear the words? (all,Literature)
1830. Pennsylvania Dutch Hex Signs (Elementary,Art)
1829. The Middle East (Senior,Social Studies)

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