Compost for Kids (even Preschoolers)
Have you ever thought about teaching your kids to compost? Compost for kids has a ton of benefits. Teaching kids to care for the earth is a big job, but it can be fun too!
Compost for Kids (even Preschoolers)
Even the youngest kids can learn about compost. It’s a simple formula and has so many benefits. Teach preschoolers how compost can be used.
Compost can be used as mulch on top of your soil. It will keep moisture in the garden and prevent weeds from germinating on the surface. The worms and beneficial microbes will come up from the soil into the compost and work the nutrients into the soil.
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Mix compost into the soil to give the soil better structure and help it hold in moisture as well. Compost mixed into soil gives plants a nutritious place to grow.
Make compost right in the garden by digging a trench in the garden several inches away from your plant rows and dumping your food scraps and brown leaves and garden cuttings right into it. Then cover it with soil and let it rot right there in the garden. It will feed the plants the same way it would if you mixed compost into the soil.
Composting in schools
Composting can teach kids a variety of concepts. It teaches them environmental awareness as you teach them how composting helps the earth grow more healthy and why we don’t want our landfills overflowing with food and garden waste.
Science is learned through composting as well. Kids learn about decomposition and how it works.
How to make compost at school
If you want to begin composting at daycare or school, you’ll have to find a place to compost. Click here to see what you’ll need when choosing a place to compost and how to build compost in that space.
Next, you’ll need to get your container. You can buy composters that are premade or build your own. You can even build a composter out of scrap wood.
Once the compost is dark, sweet smelling, and loose and you don’t see any large particles, it’s time to use it in the garden in the ways shown above.
Composting lesson plans
To make a composting unit for kids, there are a variety of things you can focus on. We love to read composting books such as compost stew. The chicken and the worm is a fun one too.
You can do worm activities with the kids such as worm color sheets or collages. There are free color sheets online. For collages, you can use a color sheet and fill the worm shape with glue. Then give the kids materials to glue onto the worm. Or you can also make collages by giving kids materials to use on a cut-out worm shape.
Collage materials can be anything from puzzle pieces, beads, buttons and scraps of ribbon to pieces of pasta, glitter, sequins and stickers. Anything that can be stuck to the paper or used to decorate it.
You can show the kids the worm life cycle with materials like this packet that has all the stages in it. We keep it in the plastic so all the parts stay together. I love showing kids how worms come from eggs. In our worm composter, we have even seen a few worm egg casings. They look like tiny little seeds. They probably have 3-4 worm babies in each casing.
Exploring worms is a great hands-on activity for kids. Most kids love holding worms and looking at them. They also love to feed them, so building a worm composter is a great idea for the classroom too. Be sensitive if you have a child that doesn’t enjoy the worms. Some kids are afraid of them.
Learning what to feed the worms in the composter is another great science lesson for kids.
Composting with Kids
Teaching kids to compost is super simple. You just need to teach them the recipe for it and show them what the ingredients are. The rest is all full of science lessons and amazing discoveries.
What goes in compost?
Teach your kids the compost recipe. One part greens to 2-3 parts brown. Compost also needs water and air.
A closed container with no ventilation will not allow the compost to break down, it will become stagnate, have a putrid smell and be slimy. When compost has air as it rots, it smells sweet and earthy, has a beautiful fluffy texture. As your compost breaks down it should be as moist as a wrung-out sponge. If it’s too wet, it will smell and be slimy because there won’t be enough air in the material. If it’s not wet enough, it won’t break down quickly or at all.
You can teach the kids that greens are fresh trimmings and food scraps and browns are dried up crunchy materials.
Click here to learn what doesn’t go in the compost.
Give them a small container and let them build the layers, put it in the window and let them watch it rot. This is called micro composting. You can see so much happening in your small composter.
Teach kids about compost by getting some partially finished compost and let them explore what’s in it. You can use magnifying glasses to look for the different things that make up the material. Then give them some good finished compost and let them explore that and see the difference.
Another fun way to teach about composting is by planting two plants. One in soil and one in compost and compare them as they grow.
Composting keeps lots of waste out of the landfill. This is a wonderful benefit. Imagine how much less waste there would be in a landfill if all of your food and yard scraps were going into the composter. If everyone composted everything, it would make a huge difference in our solid waste system. This would save money for the economy as well.
Composting fertilizes the garden. It’s a great resource for making plants grow better than just soil or soil with synthetic fertilizers. It also improves the texture and aeration of the soil.
Composting projects for kids
There are a ton of fun things you can do with kids to teach more about composting. You can work together to make a compost bin. There are so many ways to make one, even just a wire cage makes a great vessel for composting.
Bug identification is a great compost activity. Learn what the different composter creatures do to help break down the materials.
Setting up a worm composter is a great way to teach kids about how things rot. You can have these indoors and explore them on a regular basis. My kids LOVE learning about worms.
Learn more facts about composting with kids.
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