Compost: Science

Posted by on Oct 6, 2015 in E-Course - STEAM Outdoors | 12 comments



Gardens that Feed: Compost

When I put this Module together, I found myself introducing elements that can be found in any type of garden. All great gardens have working compost areas! With so many options, where do we start?

Step One: Begin with some research. Check out the children’s Book, “Compost Stew?” in the Outdoor Classrooms Library. Answer the following questions:

  • Why compost?
  • What is compost?
  • Why should I compost?
  • How do I begin composting?
  • What materials can be composted?
  • What do I do with the compost?

Add these questions to your visual journal. Invite children to help you answer these questions. Write down their answers word for word. There is a lot of science behind the compost process.

Step Two: Decide what type of compost experience you want to offer your children.

  • Compost in a Bag
  • Compost in a Bin
  • Compost in a 3 Tier System

Step Three: Dig In and get inspired with these additional great resources!

5 Fun Composting Projects for Kids




  1. Our town has a very good composting program. We have a bin in our classroom for table scraps. We can include meat products as well as breads, dairy and even the napkins used to wrap food. Outside our classroom we have a town compost bin that we add to weekly. Contents are collected once a week and brought to a local farm to compost. Children from our school have taken a field trip to see what happens to our food. Then they had a chance to climb the compost hill of black soil. Before the children left, they took a barrel of the soil for our garden. The children really made the connection between their table scraps and our garden. It was a great. I would love to introduce “Compost Stew” to add another piece to their experience.

  2. Like Kayla I love the idea of using clear gallon size bags to begin composting. I work with toddlers and they love cause and effect activities by using the bags they can observe what is happening.

  3. Thank you got the great composting with kids link! I really liked the simple wire compost bin, so the process of creating “black gold” is visible. I loved the idea of compost “flash cards” , too. The charting idea can incorporate math, science and literacy all at once! Keeping track of green and brown contributions to keep the 50/50 balance would be great. Families could get involved too by bringing in items ( coffee grounds or paper towel rolls for example) to get involved. My goal is to also get myself going with composting again at home.

  4. I did check out “Compost Stew”, and I thought it was great, too. I am planning to get a small kitchen compost container as an introduction to composting for my twos and threes. I will also make use of a small plastic container provided by the city waste management. For the fall and winter, we will dog. small things outdoors, and read and plan a lot for next spring.

    • Thrilled that you enjoyed “Compost Stew”. I too, am exploring and digging deeper into learning more about composting. I am planning on creating a couple of different types of compost areas in my backyard Outdoor Classroom Learning Lab. My hope is to get some of these installed before the winter hits. Keep me posted on your compost explorations. I would love to learn what is working and not working. It can be tricky.

  5. I love this idea of composting in a bag or in a clear bin so students can really see what is happening. This would be a nice way to begin the week with the students and taking a moment to discuss what they see that has changed since last time and to make predictions of what they think it will look like next time.

    • A fabulous way to begin the week! Observation is such an important skill. Have fun with this and let us know what hapens!

  6. hi Victoria, I have been down with a virus the past few days. When I read your compost notes, you referred to a children’s book “Why Compost?” from the Outdoor Classrooms library. I don’t find it in the Steam library, or on Amazon, or my local library. Who is the author/ and where can I look for it? thanks, Jeanne

    • Jeanne, I’m not sure there is a book entitled “Why Compost?” I think it is called “Compost Stew,” which is a great book. I took it out from the library once. I will probably get my own copy now that I am revisiting composting. We tried composting at my school a few years ago. A parent gave us a covered bin that looked like a beehive. Unfortunately, the opening was too small to get a pitchfork in and turn it. Classes dumped large items in like pumpkins and gourdes without cutting them up. Swarms of fruit flies invaded it and then wasps built a nest in it. My goal it to have a proper one that is layered just right.

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