By: Jackie Carroll
Kids and composting were meant for each other. When you take part in compost activities for kids, take time to discuss what happens to garbage that isn’t composted. Landfills are filling up at an alarming rate, and waste disposal options are becoming hard to find. You can introduce your kids to the basic principles of taking responsibility for the waste they generate through composting. For children, it will just seem like great fun.
Children will get more from the experience if they have their own compost container. A garbage can or plastic bin that is at least 3 feet (1 m.) tall and 3 feet (1 m.) wide is large enough to make compost. Drill 20 to 30 large holes in the lid and in the bottom and sides of the container to allow air in and let excess water drain through.
A good compost recipe includes three types of ingredients:
Add water now and then, and stir the container weekly with a shovel or large stick. Compost can be heavy, so little ones may need help with this.
Children will enjoy making compost in a two liter soda bottle, and they can use the finished product to grow their own plants.
Rinse out the bottle, screw the top on firmly, and remove the label. Make a flip top in the bottle by cutting most of the way around about a third of the way down the bottle.
Place a layer of soil in the bottom of the bottle. Moisten the soil with water from a spray bottle if it is dry. Add a thin layer of fruit scraps, a thin layer of dirt, a tablespoon (14 ml.) of fertilizer, chicken manure, or urine, and a layer of leaves. Continue adding layers until the bottle is almost full.
Tape the top of the bottle in place and place it in a sunny location. If moisture condenses on the sides of the bottle, remove the top to let it dry out. If the contents look dry, add a squirt or two of water from a spray bottle.
Roll the bottle around every day to mix the contents. The compost is ready to use when it is brown and crumbly. This takes a month or so.
Children also enjoy worm composting. Make a “worm farm” out of a plastic bin by drilling several holes in the top, sides and bottom. Make bedding for the worms out of newspaper torn into strips and then soaked in water. Wring it out until it is the consistency of a damp sponge, and then fluff it up to form a layer about 6 inches (15 cm.) deep in the bottom of the bin. Mist the bedding with a spray of water if it begins to dry out.
Red wigglers make the best composting worms. Use a pound of worms for a 2-foot (60 cm.) square bin, or half a pound for smaller containers. Feed the worms by tucking fruit and vegetable scraps into the bedding. Start with a cup of scraps twice a week. If they have leftovers, cut back on the amount of food. If the food is completely gone, you might try giving them a little more.
This article was last updated on
Read more about Children's Gardens
Last updated on May 1, 2019
Earth Day presents a wonderful opportunity to teach young children about the importance of taking care of our planet. Today, we’re sharing a compost and recycling sorting activity for toddlers and preschoolers. It’s a fun Earth Day Activity that helps young kids learn how to sort items for the compost bin, the recycle bin and the garbage. This activity is easy to make for your kids, and it comes with a free, downloadable printable.
Thanks to Alana, from Parenting from the Heart for sharing this fun preschool Earth Day Activity with us!
I thought my children had a pretty good handle on what to recycle, compost and throw in the garbage. More than once, I’ve heard them scold their father for not putting organics in the right bin.
But the other day, I opened the trash can to see they had tossed their yogurt drink containers in there instead of walking over to the recycling bin. I decided it was time to to teach them about the impact of throwing away plastic other materials that can be recycled or reused.
With Earth Day coming up on April 22nd, the timing was perfect to put together this sorting activity.
To explain what happens when garbage gets to a landfill site, I began by telling my two young kids what an anthropology student once told me.
By Sarah Shelton on January 14, 2020
When I first started gardening I was a complete newbie and had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t know a thing about how to grow my own food, and started by getting some potting soil and pots for my back porch. We enjoyed going out each day to tend to the garden and watch our food grow. Our family became addicted to gardening and kept adding new garden spots to our backyard each year. We eventually moved up to larger raised bed gardens where we needed to make our own soil mix.
One thing I didn’t know much about when I first started off was the kind of soil to use for my garden. We purchased cheap soil from a home improvement store and we didn’t get as great results as my other friends who had huge gardens. I found out that the secret to a great garden with lots of veggies was soil and composting! I first learned about making my own soil mix through The Square Foot Gardening method, when we started our raised beds.
Soil types can vary depending on where you live. It can be hard to dig in the ground and create a garden without checking your soil or adding things to it to get it to the proper texture. I have had the most success by creating a mix of all the things that a garden needs and adding it to raised beds. One of the main ingredients that a good soil mix needs is compost!
Composting is a natural process that turns organic material from waste into a fertile and nutrient rich additive for your soil. Good compost will be dark brown, almost black with a nice, earthy scent. You can even grow things straight into good compost, but I like adding it to my soil to help enrich it. Now, you can purchase bags of different types of compost, or you can make your own at home. It is quite easy, and it’s a fun project to do with your entire family.
As a homeschool mom, I love to turn anything into a learning experience. Gardening can be such a wonderful learning experience and kids just love getting their hands dirty. It is one of those things that can easily lead to a wonderful science project and life schooling topic.
Anyone can compost. whether you live in an apartment in the city, a suburban house or a big old homestead.
If you plan to compost in the city, invest in a small, countertop compost container with a charcoal filter to keep the smell down. When the container is full, move it to a larger container, like a Rubbermaid bin out on your balcony. If you’re looking for a hands-on homeschool building project, try your hand at building a compost bin.
collect your compostable kitchen food scraps in a big coffee tin, like we do. Each night after dinner the girls empty it. During the winter we compost with worms working hard composting in our Rubbermaid bin. We keep it in our water tank room. And once summer rolls around, we move the bin outdoors.
The girls take turns “turning over” the compost weekly. When it starts to resemble dark, rich soil, we work it into our raised garden beds.
Sarita Harbour is a busy mom/step-mom blessed with seven kids ranging from age 29 down to five. She lives off the grid with her family in a lakefront chalet in the beautiful wilderness of Canada’s far north. Sarita is so grateful to work from home while giving her two youngest children a Christian homeschool education. She spends her days teaching, writing, and learning the ropes of homesteading off the grid. Visit her site, Off Grid Life, for free printables and resources on getting started with homesteading,В off gridВ living, frugal living, foraging, and wilderness living skills for the whole family.
Get a little dirt under your fingernails and plant some seeds. Certain plants, like herbs and beans, grow pretty quickly so they will better align with the patience of young children. Try planting herbs in repurposed plastic containers with holes in the bottoms to keep your activity very simple. If you have an outdoor space that you can use as a small garden, consider planting some easy vegetables like tomatoes or cucumbers. You may even consider planting a pizza garden!
In past blog posts, I’ve shared lots of ideas for planting seedlings with kids, life lessons gardens help teach our youngsters, and how to get started planting a pizza garden with kids. Check out the articles that feel relevant to you and dig your hands into the soil with your kiddos.
Have your kids paint the mason jars in colours that correspond with your bins at home. We painted the recycling jar blue, the compost jar green, and the garbage jar black.
While waiting for the jars to dry, we printed out and coloured this printable.
Our printable shows pictures of various waste items ready for the trash:
On the printable, you’ll also see labels for your jars.
The object of this activity will be for your child to learn which items go in the compost, which go in the recycle bin, and which go in the trash, and to sort them into the matching containers (the glass jars).
When the paint was dry, we covered each jar with Mod Podge and added the labels, Recycling, Compost, and Trash or Garbage from the printable. Mod Podge goes on white but dries clear. Don’t skip this step if you use tempera paint because it will otherwise peel.
While the Mod Podge dries, cut out the food scraps and recyclables from the printable and glue them to a piece of cardboard. An old cereal box or pizza box works well, and it’s a great way to repurpose! Then cut out each item.
Once the glue has dried, the kids can sort their cardboard pieces and drop them into the jar they belong in: bottles and tin cans into the blue recycle container, food scraps into the green compost container, and non-recyclable items into the black trash container.
Their fine-motor skills will be strengthened as they handle the small pieces of cardboard, and their problem-solving skills and critical thinking will be challenged as they sort their garbage for the composter, recycle bin and trash.
What a fun way for kids to learn about the importance of recycling and composting and a great sorting activity too!