Composting is a natural biological process of decomposition and recycling of organic material (such as leaves, grass, fruit and vegetable scraps and food waste) into dark brown crumbly soil smells like forest.
Composting teaches children how the environment works, nature’s way of recycling and the life cycle. To raise children’s awareness of the environment by introduce them to the basic principles of taking responsibility for the waste they generate through composting.
Composting helps children to understand the three environmental r’s recycle, reuse and reduce. Children learn the difference between biodegradable products and what ends up in a landfill.
Composting with children teaches them that organic wastes are potential resources that can be converted into soil rather than just something “gross” that we throw away. Children learn through direct experience that they can make a difference and that their actions can have a positive effect on the environment.
Composting with children is a hands-on science experience and also an introduction into the world of science especially biology, chemistry and physics.
Talk to children about what happens to the waste. Where do they think waste go? We put the waste in a bin. Wheredoes the waste go after the bin is emptied? What happens then? Waste that we throw away is taken to a “big rubbish dump” which is calledlandfill. What will happen to the waste then? Some waste willdecompose and disappear. This is biodegradable waste. Other rubbish doesn’t decompose which means it stays at a landfill forever. This is non-biodegradable waste.
When the organic waste starts to break down, you will find all sorts of bugs and crawly things in the pile, as millipedes, sow bugs, worms, snails and slugs who help to shred the organic matter into smaller parts that allows microorganisms (e.g. bacteria and fungi), to finish the process.
Children learn the importance of worms and slugs and their value to our ecosystem and that even the smallest animals have important roles in our ecosystem. Observe together with the children the recyclers in the compost. Let the children take pictures of the bugs and look them up together online.
Healthy compost results from a combination of four ingredients.
Decide on a pile or bin: Composting doesn’t require any special equipment. You can start a simple pile made by composting grids in your backyard or also purchase a special bin for composting. A bin keeps it contained and might make the decomposition process go faster.
Select a spot to set up your bin, that is convenient to reach and with plenty of room to work around. A good place is near your garden and it is also good idea to choose a location that is close to a source of water.
Place a 10 cm to 15 cm bottom layer of course material such as twigs, dead plant stalks in your composter in order to allow for drainage and aeration.
A layer of brown stuff
2. A layer of green stuff
Mix the layers up a little as you make them.
4. Then sprinkle a shovelful of soil or compost to add microorganisms to pile.
Whenever you add food scraps or garden waste always top it with a layer of browns (Carbon materials). If you do not add carbon materials, your compost will get wet and can smell like rotten garbage. Collect and store dead leaves in the fall so you can put them in your compost pile the year around.
5. Give each layer gets a good sprinkling of water to wet the ingredients. It is important to wet each layer when you build it.
6. Turn your pile occasionally with a garden fork. This will help get air to the materials on the inside and speed up the decomposing process.
Keep an eye on your compost pile. If it looks dry, sprinkle on some water, and if too wet, add some shredded newspaper.
Activity Sort Waste
This activity will help children to learn which items go in the compost, which go in the recycle bin and which go in the trash bin. (You can download this activity as PDF).
Compost in a soda bottle!
Click on the links to download the activities as PDF