How to Make Compost for Kids

Overview

Composting is a virtually cost-free gardening project that recycles yard waste and non-meat kitchen scraps to make a nutrient-rich soil additive. Composting with children can be a safe way to get their hands dirty as they learn this age-old technique of enriching garden and yard soil with homemade compost.

Build the Compost Pile

Step 1

Start your compost pile near the far end of your yard or in another low-traffic area of the yard.

Step 2

Let the children help dig a shallow hole into the ground and set the dirt aside in a pile.

Step 3

Give them the compost materials to dump into the hole and layer it with alternating layers of dirt and fresh materials until all of your compost material is incorporated into the pile.

Step 4

Have the children wet the pile with a hose and then cover the pile with a tarp.

Use a Compost Bin

Step 1

Have the children shovel a layer of native soil into the bottom of the compost pile.

Step 2

Let the children add a layer of the compost material to the bin, and let them alternate the layers with soil and compost materials until all of the compost material is in the bin.

Step 3

Let the children add water to the compost bin and cover it with the compost bin lid.

Regular Maintenance

Step 1

Let the children regularly add more compost material from the lawn and garden or from the kitchen instead of throwing these compost ingredients into the garbage.

Step 2

Cover the new compost material with a layer of soil.

Step 3

Have the children turn the compost material over--with a shovel, pitchfork or rotate the compost bin (for those models that spin)--every one to two weeks.

Step 4

Add water to the compost pile to keep it moist.

Using the Compost

Step 1

Involve the children in spreading the compost around the garden and yard once it is ready in about three weeks.

Step 2

Let them shovel the compost into a wheelbarrow and then dump it into a vegetable garden or place it at the foot of bushes, flowers or trees.

Step 3

Let the children get their hands dirty with a hand shovel and rake to work the compost into the existing soil.

Step 4

Water the soil after mixing in the compost.

Composting Education

Step 1

Teach the children the importance of renewing the earth's natural resources and that composting is a small way that we all can "reduce, reuse and recycle" yard and kitchen waste.

Step 2

Develop coloring worksheets related to composting, such as demonstrating how grass and leaves become food for the soil.

Step 3

Incorporate online and library resources and books into your composting project to teach children all about composting and its importance.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost pile or bin
  • Tarp
  • Garden gloves
  • Rake
  • Shovel
  • Grass clippings
  • Vegetable kitchen scraps
  • Leaves
  • Fireplace or barbecue grill ash

References

  • Washington State Department of Ecology: Waste 2 Resources: Kids Page: How to Compost?

Who Can Help

  • Texas A&M University: PowerPoint Presentation: Composting for Kids
  • PBS Kids: Outdoors Episode: Kitchen Composting
Keywords: kids and composting, backyard composting, about composting

About this Author

Naima Manal's articles on health, diet, nutrition, alternative medicine, education, parenting, crafts, travel, home and garden and home improvement have appeared on eHow, Garden Guides, Trails, ConnectED, Helium and others. Manal received her B.S. degree in biology/pre-medical studies from Molloy College in 1994 and has been a freelance writer, teacher and homeschooling mom since 1993.