Household hazardous waste learning trunk

We use household hazardous products every day in cleaning and fixing our homes, maintaining our cars, and taking care of our lawns. Products such as oil-based paint, weed killers, and drain opener are okay when we use them up for the job they were intended, but if these products are not properly used, stored, and disposed of, they can present a hazard to our health and our environment.

This learning trunk will help educators (both formal and informal) explain the importance of proper use, storage, disposal, and safety information of household hazardous products. This trunk also offers activities and lesson plans that will help students identify household hazardous products and read product labels; learn how hazardous products can affect their health, and identify signal words to determine the least hazardous product.

Contents: The "junk in the trunk"

Bleach bottleThis learning kit includes props and sample products, display boards, and teacher aids like lesson plans and clip art with writing and concepts appropriate for the fourth through sixth grades. Much of the content can be adapted for use with all ages.

The trunk is meant as a resource for loan, and should be used then packed up for return.

Lesson plans

The trunk's lesson plans offer guidance as to how to use the materials and props to better educate your students. They are written for the fourth through sixth grades, though many of the lessons can be adapted for use with younger or older students or adults.

Lessons are divided into four categories:

  1. Household hazardous products - what are they and how do they affect the environment and me?
  2. Read the label
  3. Proper usage
  4. Specific products.

The lesson plans may be used singly or as a progression of learning. They are appropriate for both informal education situations (clubs, exhibits, youth groups, and meetings) and formal education (schools). Each plan contains:

  1. The time needed to prepare and complete the activity or activities.
  2. The materials needed to do the activities.
  3. Vocabulary words used in the lesson.
  4. The goal and objectives of the lesson.
  5. Topical background information for the educator.
  6. Directions for one or more activities and possibly an enrichment activity.
  7. A list of related lesson plans.

The trunk contains all materials and lessons for the following topics:

  1. What are household hazardous products and where do you find them?
  2. The Water Cycle
  3. Ground Water
  4. Exposure Pathways: How do chemicals enter your body?
  5. Read the Label: Signal Words
  6. Read the Label: Product Characteristics
  7. Read the Label: Emergency Information
  8. Read the Label: Think before Buying
  9. Proper Use
  10. Don’t Mix
  11. Proper Storage
  12. Proper Disposal
  13. Paint
  14. Pesticides
  15. Product Look-alikes.

You may also use the materials in the trunk as learning stations. Many of the trunk’s props and materials lend themselves to self or group exploration.

For clip art of HHW images, see Marketing your HHW program.

Information and assistance

The Household Hazardous Waste Learning Trunks are the property of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Household Hazardous Waste Program. For further information regarding the HHW Learning Trunk and Minnesota’s program, contact the MPCA at 651-296-6300 or toll-free 800-657-3864 (in Minnesota only) and ask for the Household Hazardous Waste Program staff.