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What can't go down the toilet?

About this lesson

Students learn about what happens when you throw things down the toilet and express their ideas through drawing.

Year level: F, 1

Theme: Wastewater

Learning objectives

Students can:
  • listen and respond orally to others
  • create a short text
  • engage in discussion
  • represent ideas through drawing and writing.

Curriculum links


  • Respond to questions about familiar objects and events ACSIS014
  • Explore and make observations by using the senses ACSIS011
  • Engage in discussions about observations and use methods such as drawing to represent ideas ACSIS233
  • Respond to and pose questions, and make predictions about familiar objects and events ACSIS024
  • Represent and communicate observations and ideas in a variety of ways such as oral and written language, drawing and role play ACSIS029


  •  OI.9 - Sustainable futures result from actions designed to preserve and/or restore the quality and uniqueness of environments.

Things you will need

Suggested list of items to use:

  • 2 children's toys
  • A piece of clothing or a rag
  • Clean cotton buds
  • Pieces of cotton wool
  • A clean nappy
  • Hair clips or a hair band
  • Stickers/stationery (pencil, eraser, pencil sharpener)

Lesson description


  • Ask the class where they think water from the toilet goes.
  • Using the wastewater path poster, explain that water goes down drains and ends up at a wastewater treatment plant, where it is cleaned.
  • Shows students a range of items (as per suggested list above) and explain that many of these are flushed down the toilet. Pass these items around for students to touch.
  • Ask what they think happens when any of these items are flushed down the toilet.
  • Explain the problems these items cause to the wastewater system and how we should properly dispose of them.


  • Model how to complete the sheet and share ideas on words they might want to use. Write these up on the board.
  • Have students complete the What can't go down the toilet activity sheet.

Reflect & summarise

  • Recap with students where water from the toilet goes and what happens when you throw items down the toilet.
  • Have students share their activity sheet in groups/to the class.

Extension activities

Teacher background information

What is wastewater?

For most people wastewater is a hidden part of everyday life. Today just over 2 million people live in the Perth metropolitan area and produce 432 million litres of wastewater every day.

In WA the Water Corporation is largely but not solely responsible for the treatment and disposal of wastewater as they operate more than 100 wastewater treatment facilities around the state.

Wastewater is the spent or used water from a community. It comes from domestic, commercial and industrial sources. The collection, treatment and disposal of wastewater is an integral part of the water cycle that maintains the balance of water in nature.

Wastewater is 99.97% water because by far the greatest volume comes from showers, baths and washing machines. The rest is dissolved and suspended matter. Wastewater also comes from industrial processes.

Keep rubbish out of our wastewater system

Everything you pour down the kitchen sink or any item you put down the toilet doesn't just disappear. It goes through the wastewater system to a treatment plant where it is processed to ensure it can be either reused or disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner.

There are many everyday items that should not enter the wastewater system. Disposing of household waste correctly prevents damage to the wastewater system and helps protect the environment.

Some effects of placing items down the toilet:

  • they can clog the wastewater system and treatment plant
  • machinery can break down
  • people must manually clear the filters which can be dangerous
  • overflows can occur which harm the environment and be expensive to repair for both Water Corporation and for householders, particularly if the blockage or overflow is on your property.

How to dispose of common household items:

  • Cooking fats and oils can be poured into a container and binned.
  • Chemicals should be given to a licensed hazardous wastes contractor or contact your local council.
  • Food scraps can be placed in the bin or compost.
  • Newspaper and plastics can be recycled. Contact your local council for more information.
  • Unused medicines can be returned to pharmacies.
  • Engine oils can be taken to local garages or oil recycling centres.
  • Nappies, razors, cotton buds, syringes must be wrapped up and placed in a bin.<

Did you know?

Children’s toys, golf balls and jewellery, are some of the strange items that find their way into toilets!

Key vocabulary

  • Blockage: An act or instance of obstructing
  • Filter: A device with holes of varying size that removes substances from a mixture
  • Rubbish: Unwanted substances or items left by people, intentionally or accidentally, in the natural environment
  • Toilet: A fixture that consists of a water-flushed bowl and seat
  • Wastewater: Used water