Environmental Songbook

Recycle Hokey Pokey

Words to traditional music by Sarah Pirtle  

Recorded by A Gentle Wind on “Heart of the World”

©2002 Discovery Center Music, BMI

Traditional tune, “The Hokey Pokey,” with new words by Sarah Pirtle. Some verses were created with fifth grade students at the Solomon Schechter School in Worcester, MA in 1990. I based the verses upon facts about recycling in Fifty Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth by the EarthWorks Group, Kansas city: Andrews and McMeel, 1990.


1. You put the can in. You put it into the bin.
You grind it down and you heat it all around.



You do the Earth recycle and you turn it all around.
That’s what it’s all about.


2. You take the bottle glass and you melt it down.
It makes a new shape. You mold it ‘til its round.


You do the Earth Recycle (3x) That’s what it’s all about.


3. You take the vegetable peels, but not the foil.

Shovel in the ground and it turns to soil.


4. Add the newspapers into the chemical bath.

We make new paper so we can do math.


5. Did you know that I’m recycled, and so are you.

We’re recycled stardust. A mystery that is true.


Last chorus:
The Universe recycles, everything keeps moving on...

Guides for using the song:
Here is supplementary information to go with each verse:

Verse 1. The aluminum in cans is able to be recycled over and over. Aluminum is ground into chips, melted into bars, and then rolled flat. In 1990 65 billion aluminum soda cans were used each year. Think what happens if they aren’t recycled!

Verse 2. We throw out enough glass bottles and jars each month to fill a giant skyscraper.

Verse 3. Does your family and does your school save used paper for scrap and collect it for recycling?

Verse 4. Biodegradable food like lettuce, apple cores, and vegetable peels can be composted to make rich garden soil. Schools, camps, and families can collect lunch scraps for compost in a separate bin.

Verse 5: “The Quarks Song” talks about stardust exploding in a big Super Nova. This was the creation of all the elements which are on Earth. We’re made from these “seeds.”

Movement suggestions for this song.
Verses: Create pantomime motions to match the content of the verses.

You put the can in. Pretend you hold a can in one hand and with other arm create a large canister to put it in.

You put it into the bin. Point to that bin.

You grind it down. One fist on top of the other grinds. And you heat it all around. Position one hand on top of the other, flat with fingers extended, and wave them as if hot.

In a similar manner, act out the other verses. Shape the bottle glass with your hands in verse two. Peel vegetables, then push away the foil in verse three. Tear strips of newspaper in verse four. Move your hands in spirals in verse five.

“You do the Earth Recycle and you turn it all around.”
Thumbs out -- Lead with your thumb out in one direction, then motion the other way with your other thumb. Now both together.

Other options for movement:
For younger children - Roll your arms in a circle.
Or, move like the Hokey Pokey dance turning around while waving your hands.
Clap on the last phrase, “That’s what it’s all about.” 

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All songs posted in the CMN Song Library are protected by copyright and are provided by the generosity of the owner/artist. You may perform songs you find here in classrooms and camps without the copyright owner’s permission. For all other performances, you must first obtain a performance license through BMI, SESAC or ASCAP or obtain the copyright owner’s express prior written permission.