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Tags: All-Seasons, Outdoor, PreK-2nd, Anytime, Compost 

Time: 30 mins 

Author: Kristin Adams Link 


Greeting and Review Start in the same space if possible for every class (ex: The Circle, Pond, Back benches) Sing a song, draw a picture or talk about their weekend. (5 mins)
Main Lesson What is Compost? Why do we compost? How do we do it? (5 mins)
(See background notes below for information about composting.)
Activity 1 Watch “Make the Most of Compost” video by SciShow Kids. Then quiz the children about compostable objects (6 mins)
Materials Needed: Projector, speaker and projector screen or some sort of device to watch the video
Activity 2 Read Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe for the Earth or read along here (5 mins)
Materials Needed: BOOK- Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe for the Earth by Mary McKenna Siddals.
ctivity 3 Show the Children the indoor and outdoor composts (5 mins)
Cleanup Put away A/V equipment (adults only), consider waiting until after class has ended
Goodbye 2-3 minutes to say goodbyeEx: sing a goodbye song or give high fives to children on their way out.
External References Browns and Greens for Layering Compost
Worksheets None

 Activity 1

 Watch “Make the Most of Compost” video by SciShow Kids.

 Quiz the children about compostable objects.

 Activity 2

 Discuss the book. Questions to ask the children about the book: 

  • Who here likes apples? I do! OR Do you know someone who drinks coffee? Maybe your parents, caregivers or teachers?
  • Did you know that we can compost… a Halloween Pumpkin? A Christmas tree? Your hair from a haircut?

 Activity 3 

  • Show students the indoor trash cans. Black is for landfill trash, blue is for recycle and green is for compost. Explain that we use the indoor compost for things that are commercial compostable like compostable servingware, paper towels, compostable plates, meat or dairy products. We prefer to put veggie scraps and garden trimmings in the outdoor compost. Let’s go take a look outside.
  • Show which piles are for layering the our green and brown matter. The piles next to them have decomposed quite a bit but need to be sifted before we bring it over to the finished compost pile (show pile).
  • Explain that we add compost from the finished pile to our garden beds to give to food and life to our plants. This keeps them healthy and helps them grow.

 Background Information

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: 






Stacey Murphy and




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