How to teach compost to children ?

Back to school…garden!
This fall with my school garden project, our focus will be compost.
We are going to start with one classroom (pre-K) in Fall. web-ecoetsy-3

WHAT IS COMPOST?
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Compost is basically how nature create humus on the forest floors:
leaves fall from the trees and get mixed together with soil,dead plants and    animals and create compost with the help of worms and others insects plus bacteria and fungi.
You do not know how many times people ask me that question…
Basically what we are doing with a compost bin is re create what happens naturally at a slower pace in our forest floors.
We are creating good soil full of nutrients used as food for the plants.
The smell of a good and rich soil is amazing: hummm…
One of the best compost used in vegetable gardening is vermicompost produced by a variety of worms including the red wiggler worm.Learn more here.

RED WIGGLER WORM
I painted a big wooden board with the anatomy of the red wiggler worm. web-ecoetsy-2
Sorry i don’t have any pictures yet…
Interesting facts to talk to children about worms:
*They have 5 hearts
*They have no arms,legs or eyes
*They have a gizzard like chicken,they need soil to digest
*You can tell if a worm is adult if you see the clitellum(near the head)
The clitellum is used for reproduction; makes mucus to form an egg-carrying cocoon.
*They have bristles called setae that help them move.
Worms are fun: you can show it to the children in your hands (to make them
more comfortable). After a couple of minutes, you will be amazed how the children
are excited about them: they want to name the worms,ask questions,want to touch them.
Earthworms do a large amount of the decomposition work among the macro organisms.They dig tunnels and aerate the decomposing materials in the compost pile:they allow air,water and nutrients to circulate.

 

 COMPOST FOOD WEB
You have three levels of consumers in a compost pile:
*Primary consumers (first level) feed on dead plants or animals:bacteria,fungi, actinobacteria for the chemical decomposers and snails,slugs,beetle mites,worms,flies for the physical decomposers.
*Secondary consumers(second level) feed on primary consumers and their waste:
springtails,mold mites,nematodes.
*Tertiary consumers(third level) feed on secondary consumers:
centipedes, pseudoscorpions,predatory mites and rove beetles.
This web structure keeps the different populations under control and maintain a healthy
and balanced compost pile.

 

INDOOR COMPOSTING
So if you want to teach a classroom about compost one way to do it is starting a worm bin
and adopt the worms as pets in the classroom.For more info on how to start a worm bin in your classroom:here.

OUTDOOR COMPOSTING
So this is indoor composting,if you want to do outdoor composting this is a great bin:
The earth machine compost bin: here.
Can you imagine that a family can compost 500 lb of kitchen scraps a year with the Earth machine!
I think it is a great example of mesophilic composting.

But you also have thermophilic composting with temperatures above 113F without worms:
bacteria and fungi do the work.

To learn more about different types of compost bins and devices:here.

 

GREENS AND BROWNS

Greens are high in nitrogen and Browns are high in carbon mixed with air and water:you have black gold!
Also when you teach the children about compost:
You can explain simply that greens(grass) are the things that are still alive and the browns anything that is dead(dried leaves)
Every time they eat something it will become a game for them to guess if they can compost it or not.
Trust me after composting is in their routine they will remind the adults to do it!
Composting is fun : i have been practicing it with my own children and they love it!
It teaches them to be aware of the environment and how important it is to recycle our
kitchen scraps.

But you can teach children about anything that grows around them like this magnificent oak tree in a park:

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Are you crazy about composting like me?
Do you show your worms to your friends when they come to visit?
Share your composting crazy experiences!