Gardening with Kids is so much fun! Starting a home garden is a great idea when you have kids that can help and learn from the garden. You might think that all of the lessons to be learned are in the growing and care of the garden, but the garden activities of composting offers a lot of science lessons for kids as well. Being able to take items we would normally consider garbage and turning them into something valuable for our gardens is a lesson worth teaching.
A compost pile is a source of many science lessons for children. Try any one of these discussion points or ideas to teach children about how composting works and how it improves the soil.
Mini Compost Pile
If you already have a compost pile started for your garden, let kids start a pint sized one that they can watch and observe up close. Gather a few of the items that you would add to a normal sized compost bin; some soil, handful of garden leaves, a days worth of coffee grounds, and vegetable scraps. Have the kids add it all to a small, breathable container (plastic fruit containers are great) that they keep in a sunny spot in the back yard. Have the children check the bin and give it a shake every day.
Get the kids to take notes. Ask them to observe how long it takes for different items to break down, when did they start noticing the waste turning into soil and what other developments they notice. This gives children an idea of the time it takes for these processes and cycles to occur and to see for themselves that new life can come from waste– fungus and mold, and even some sprouting seeds in the container may appear.
Life in the Bin
If you have a bin that is not entirely contained, which is best for both the soil being created and the insects that help with breaking down waste, have kids look for the life being supported by the waste. Insects make quick work of eating much of the different types of waste found in a compost bin, and the waste they then produce is the stuff of gardener’s dreams. Talk to children about beneficial insects, which all have a role in nature and give us a hand in the garden.
Like plants, our compost piles have a few needs. Heat is very important in quickening the process, but it is also a necessity because without it the waste won’t break down. In addition, water and aeration through movement are needs of the compost. Have children experiment and keep part of the compost in direct sun, provided with water and shaken every couple days. A separate bin containing the same type of compost should be kept in a dark corner, undisturbed and without moisture added. Have the children open up the bin after two weeks and note the difference. What do they see? This is a great way to learn hands on the best ways to compost.
Here are some great things to help you on your composting journey…
- How To Compost: Everything You Need To Know To Start Composting, And Nothing You Don’t!
- Epica Stainless Steel Compost Bin 1 Gallon
- OXO Good Grips Compost Bin
- Worm Factory 360 WF360B Worm Composter, Black