Tags: Class Ideas, All-Seasons, Outdoor, 3-5, Fall, Spring, Anytime
Time : 30-40 mins
Author: Lynda Boudreault and Kristin Adams (adapted from Whole Kids Foundation School Garden Lesson Plans and The Green Team program of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, www.thegreenteam.org)
|Greeting and Review||Start class in your usual way.
Ask students if they know what compost is. Explain briefly that you will be learning about decomposition and compost (see handout).
|Main Lesson||What is Compost? Why do we compost? How do we do it? (5 mins)
(See background notes below for information about composting.)
|Watch video: Make the Most of Compost! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5s4n9r-JGU).|
|Discuss different types of recycling programs.|
|Activity 2||Compare sand, garden soil, and compost. Have students work in groups.
Materials: Handouts, pencils, compostable or reusable cups, magnifying glasses, trays or paper plates to spread material out for investigation.
|Activity 3a||Take students out to composting station.|
|Create your own compost bin.|
|Cleanup||Have students collect soil and compost to return to garden. 3-5 minutes to pick up.|
|Goodbye||Conclude class in the usual way.|
Coordinate this lesson with snack time or garden work activities. If you’re starting class with snacks, serve a healthy snack that will result in materials that can be included in compost pile (orange or apple peels, nut shells, etc). If you’re having students clean up around the garden, have students collect clippings or leaves into containers to bring to compost bin. If you’re building a compost bin, have food scraps and clippings available to get students started.
Watch video: Make the Most of Compost! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5s4n9r-JGU)
Discuss different types of recycling programs:
- the classroom (mixed paper),
- the cafeteria (polystyrene foam trays and utensils),
- at home (curbside collection of: mixed paper and cardboard; glass metal and plastic #1-7 containers; drink boxes, milk and juice cartons).
Compare sand, garden soil, and compost.
- Have students work in groups.
- Pass around cups containing samples of sand, garden soil, and compost to observe, touch, and smell.
- In groups, with magnifying glasses have students look at sand and garden soil. Allow students to list or sketch their observations.
- Pass around cups containing compost.
- Ask students to guess what the original ingredients were. List or sketch observations.
- Discuss: Based on observations, what materials can be composted? Materials: Handouts, pencils, compostable or reusable cups, magnifying glasses, trays or paper plates to spread material out for investigation.
Becker Green Classroom has a composting station.
- Take students out to composting station to review the three composting piles and the stages of compost.
- In groups, have students add layers of leaves to the step 1 composting heap.
- If you’ve had snacks, have students dig at least 8” inches into the pile and insert their snack scraps.
- If you’ve done garden maintenance that day, have students add their garden clippings to
Create your own compost bin.
- There are several options depending on class size.
- Here are some resources to help you plan how you’ll set up your composting station.
- Creating a compost bin from plastic storage container: https://www.thespruce.com/compost-bin-from-plastic-storage-container-2539493
- Small kid projects/containers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kA3q07paNbE
- Open air compost station: https://www.thekitchn.com/tips-for-setting-up-a-simple-backyard-compost-system-202160
Clean-up and Goodbye
- Have students collect soil and compost to return to garden.
- Clean up snack area.
- 3-5 minutes to pick up.
What is compost? Compost is GREEN organic matter such as vegetable scraps mixed with BROWN matter like dried leaves. Microorganisms such as fungi and bacteria and other bugs like rolly pollies, and earthworms help decompose, or break down, the food and plants into healthy, nutrient-rich soil which is important for all gardens and the earth.
GREEN matter + BROWN matter + Moisture, oxygen and decomposers = COMPOST
Why do we compost? According to the Austin Recovery Resource Center it is estimated that “half of everything residential customers send to the landfill could have been composted.” And because compostable material cannot break down in a landfill, where our trash is taken, it decomposes without oxygen, releasing harmful methane gas into our air and atmosphere. Not only is composting good for the earth and your garden, it is good for your wallet as you won’t have to buy specialty soil amendments or fertilizer when you use your own compost.
How do we compost? We layer GREEN (Nitrogen) and BROWN (Carbon) matter to make healthy compost. Green matter is nitrogen rich and includes things like old flowers, veggie scraps and coffee grounds. it can be “green” but doesn’t have to be. Brown matter is rich in carbon and includes things like shredded paper/newspapers, straw and dried leaves.
If you are composting at home you want to avoid meat, oils, dairy and large pieces of organic matter like branches.The smaller the matter the quicker it will break down into usable soil. Here in Austin, the City has a curbside composting program to that allows you to compost things that you might not want in your at-home compost such as meat, dairy and even compostable single use things like plates and pizza boxes. Click here to get more information on curbside compost service for your Austin home.
- Ask your grown up about setting up compost at home. Visit the Austin Resource Recovery Center for more information. Consider sending home a flyer with the children.
- Join the children for lunch and have them put any usable leftovers (no dairy or meat) in a bucket and we can take it to the compost pile.
Examples of Browns and Greens for Composting: