Simple Composting

The Abundant Garden: Growing Quality Kids Through Gardening by

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Simple Composting: an activity for children of all ages. In this activity, children will learn how to create a simple composting pile.

  • Supplies:
    • “greens” – such as kitchen scraps, grass clippings, manure, and coffee grounds
    • “browns” – such as wood chips, straw, dried plant material, and leaves
    • water
    • tarp to keep it covered (optional depending on climate)
    • bin or container (optional)
    • pitchfork
    • gardening notebook/journal
    • paper (if using a binder) – copy paper, cardstock and/or 140 lb weight paper if using watercolors
    • pencil and eraser
    • art medium of choice (colored pencils, watercolors, crayons, or markers)
    • page protectors
  • Consider reading the book, A Green Kid’s Guide to Composting (ages 6-10) by Richard Lay and/or watch the following video which gives you the basics of composting that you need to know.

  • Now that you have the basics down it’s time to build your compost pile. It’s not important to have an expensive bin or tumbler. A pile works just fine. Fall is the perfect time to start composting with all of the fallen leaves and plenty of time for the process to complete before spring. After layering your “greens” and “browns” you may be wondering how to aerate the pile and get it to start decomposing. Here’s a video that addresses those questions.

  • The next tip for simple composting comes in the form of a freebie; free coffee grounds. Coffee grounds are “greens” that play the same role as manure without the mess and smell! All you have to do is contact your local coffee shop or Starbucks and ask them to put aside some coffee grounds for you, then stop by and pick them up later in the day. Starbucks packages them up nicely so there is no worry about spilling them in your clean car. Once you have picked up your coffee grounds you can simply set the package next to your compost bin or pile and add them as you layer your pile.

  • The next step is the simplest. Just wait. Composting can complete in as fast as two or three months if it is well aerated and kept moist, or up to a year if you neglect it a bit. You know your compost is ready when it is a dark brown color and has a soil-like consistency.
  • The final step is to simply add the finished product to your garden. This may require some shovel work (think of it as a workout without driving to the gym)!
  • One last tip: you may want to have two compost bins or piles going at the same time so you can add to one while you are waiting for the other to finish.
  • Discuss with your child about the “ingredients” and basic “how-to” of composting.
  • Have them narrate or write down their composting “recipe” and any information, observations, or thoughts about composting in their gardening notebook/journal. Record a younger child’s explanations/dictations as needed and/or have them draw a picture of a compost pile.
  • Place the page or pages in a protector when finished and include them in the garden notebook/journal.
  • Take pictures and tag #theabundantgarden on Instagram to share your fun and for an opportunity to be featured @theabundantgarden.
  • Happy composting!