Trashy Town, by A.Zimmerman & D.Clemesha

Mr. Gilly has an important job to do.  He collects the trash all about town and takes it to the dump.  Children will enjoy repeating the “Dump it in” stance that runs throughout the story.


  • Recycled junk (ask the parents to send in donations: explain that you are going to use these for building 3 dimensional art work).
  • Several rolls of masking tape
  • 2-3 fish nets or small sieves
  • Picture of a garbage can
  • Pictures of shapes to sort
  • Map around town 1-10


  • Trash  (another name for garbage and litter)
  • Trashman  (someone whose job it is to collect the garbage from around the town).

Before Reading the Story

Explain to the children that you need them to help tell the story today.  Recite the stance; “Dump it in, smash it down, drive around the Trashy Town!”  Have the children practice reciting it back several times until it is familiar.  Explain to the children that when you do a-thumbs up in the story, it will be their turn to recite the stance.  As you read, give a thumbs-up at all the appropriate times and repeat the stance with the children.

Language Development/Listening & Understanding; shows progress in understanding and following simple and multi-step directions. AND Approaches to Learning/Initiative & Curiosity; chooses to participate in an increasing variety of tasks and activities.

Reading the Story

When you get to the page where Mr. Gilly puts on his heavy gloves, stop and ask the children why they think the trash man needs to wear heavy gloves?  (He’s gonna get his hands dirty, Garbage is stinky!).  After Mr. Gilly has cleaned-up all of Trashy Town, he goes home.  When the story says there is only one more thing to clean, stop before turning the page and ask the children if they can guess what the last item that needs cleaning is.  Ask the children if they can remember the places where Mr. Gilly picked up the trash.  Then do one final reciting of the stance; “Dump it in, smash it down, drive around the Trashy Town”!

Literacy/Book Knowledge & Appreciation; demonstrates progress in abilities to retell and dictate stories from books and experiences; tpo act out stories in dramatic play; and to predict what will happen next in a story.

After Reading the Story

Tell the children that being a trashman is an important job. Ask the children to give examples of why (It keeps our town clean, so the flies do not come, because garbage smells, because the rats like garbage, because garbage is gross).  Talk with them about the importance of keeping your centers neat.  Do you label your selves for easy cleanup?  If so, encourage the children to check the center shelves today and make sure they are putting everything away in its proper spot.  Use this day to reorganize your shelves with the children’s help.

Literacy/Early Writing; develops understanding that writing is a way of communicating for a variety of purposes. AND Physical Health & Development; builds awareness and ability to follow basic health and safety rules such as fire safety, traffic and pedestrian safety, and responding appropriately to potentially harmful objects, substances, and activities.


If your center recycles, have the children sort the paper products from the rest of the trash and put into a separate container.

Mathematics/Patterns & Measurement; shows increasing abilities to match, sort, put in a series, and regroup objects according to one or two attributes such as shape or size.

Music and Movement

Teach the children the following poem,

After I eat I scrape, scrape, scrape

To get the food off my plate, plate, plate.

Sing Save the Cans to the tune of Row,Row, Row Your Boat

Save, save, save the cans

Throw them in the bin.

We can help save our earth,

If we all pitch in.

Save, save, save the paper/plastics/bottles

Science/Scientific Knowledge; shows increased awareness and beginning understanding of changes in materials and cause-effect relationships.


Encourage the children to use the blocks today to build a road that they can drive toy vehicles across.  Can they make a bridge to go over/under another part of the road?  Can they make a tunnel to drive the vehicles through? 

Approaches to Learning/Reasoning & Problem Solving; grows in recognizing and solving problems through active exploration, including trial and error, and interactions and discussions with peers and adults.


Put out all the recycled junk that you have collected and show the children how to use strips of masking tape to hold the different pieces together making a sculpture of some kind.  When the children have finished taping their sculpture, they can glue small beads, baubles, and such on to add more dimensions and then finally drip paint over the sculpture.  This can become a 2-3 day project depending on how involved the children become.  I have cut many 2-4 inch strips of masking tape and stuck around edge of table for children to have easier access for their building. 

Physical Health & Development/Fine Motor Skills;grows in hand-eye coordination in building with blocks, putting together puzzles, stringing beads, reproducing shapes and patterns, and using scissors. And Approaches to Learning; Engagement & Persistence; grows in abilities to persist in and complete a variety of tasks, activities, projects, and experiences.

Sand and Water

Fill the table with water today and add objects that float and sink.  Give the children fishnets and have them remove the ‘garbage’ from the water and sort it by things that float and things that sink.

Science/Scientific Methods & Skills; begins to use senses and a variety of tools and simple measuring devices to gather information, investigate materials, and observe processes and relationships.

Library and Writing

Give a child a copy of the map around town.  Show the child how to use a pencil to follow the numbers 1-10 to get from beginning to end.

Mathematics/Number & Operation; begins to associate number concepts, vocabulary, quantities, and written numerals in meaningful ways. AND Literacy/Early Writing; experiments with a growing variety of writing tools and materials, such as pencils, crayons, and computers.

Dramatic Play

Add several pairs of gloves, boxes or small wastebaskets, and crumpled newspaper.  The children can pretend to collect trash and dump it from one container to another.   As your day progresses you could ask the children in the dramatic play center to come help with trash around the room.  Maybe they could sweep the sand that fell on the floor and pick up any paper that is trash from the art area.   If you have a small waste basket that has a foot peddle, these are fun for the children to use.

Social & Emotional Development/Cooperation; develops increasing abilities to give and take in interactions; to take turns in games or using materials; and to interact without being overly submissive or directive.

You could tell the children that they are trash collectors as they clear their meal plates and throw them in the garbage.  (Thank you trashman Lolly for keeping our room clean and safe).

Physical Health & Development; builds awareness and ability to follow basic health and safety rules such as fire safety, traffic and pedestrian safety, and responding appropriately to potentially harmful objects, substances, and activities.

Math and Manipulatives

Make a copy of 3 garbage cans.  On each, draw a shape.  Make one a circle, one a triangle, and one a square.   The children then sort pictures onto the appropriate garbage can.  When they are finished, help them name the shapes.  For older children you might try using three-dimensional shapes and label the cans, cylinder, pyramid, and cube.

Mathematics/Geometry & Spatial Sense; shows growth in matching, sorting, putting in series, and regrouping objects according to one or two attributes such as color, shape, or size.

Outdoor Play

Make a path on the sidewalk; using chalk make 26 1×1 foot squares that connect like a chain.  In the first square write the letter A and continue down the chain writing the letters in alphabetical order.  The children can then jump from square to square as they sing/recite the alphabet song.  If they miss a letter, name it for them and have them repeat it back to you.  If they miss two, then they must go back to the beginning and start again.

Literacy/Alphabet Knowledge; identifies at least 10 letters of the alphabet, especially those in their own name.

Put out a trashcan and many balls of wadded up newspaper.  The children can practice throwing the newspaper balls into the trashcan.  As they make a shot, have them move back 2 steps and try from this new position.

Physical Health & Development/Gross Motor Skills; demonstrates increasing abilities to coordinate movements in throwing, catching, kicking, bouncing balls, and using the slide and swing.


Do riddles with the children today about a variety of jobs.  Ask the children’s parents what they do for a career and try to incorporate these into riddles also.  Is the child aware of what their parent does for a living?

  • I wear special clothes to protect me from fire and smoke.  I spray water from a hose.
  • I help people who are hurt or sick.  I ride in an ambulance.
  • I give people tickets who are not driving safely because my job is to keep everyone safe.
  • I plan fun things for my friends to do.  I make sure that they are staying safe and learning new things.
  • I use a scanner to help people buy food.  I use my math skills to give them back change.
  • I help people find good books to read.  I put books back on the shelves when people bring them back.
  • I deliver letters to people’s homes.  I have to make sure all the mail goes to the right address.
  • I ride in a truck and pick up every bodies garbage.  I am strong because I lift the heavy cans.
  • I fix cars that are broken.  I have a lift that picks the cars up so I can look underneath them.
  • I drive a big yellow vehicle.  It takes children to and from school.

Social & Emotional Development/Knowledge of Families & Communities; develops growing awareness of jobs and what is required to perform them.


About Kerry CI am an Early Childhood Educator who has seen daily the value of shared book readings with my preschoolers. I use the book theme in my centers and can daily touch upon a variety of Early Childhood Domains which makes assessing the children easy and individualized.