How to Make Classroom Compost Bins


A classroom compost bin can be functional and educational, teaching elementary children how leftover food and yard scrap decompose over time to create material for the soil that is packed with nutrients. Children can participate by adding leftover lunches and collecting grass clippings, wood scrap and other material from the school. Classroom compost bins can teach children the importance of recycling, habitats, mini-beasts, organic material, food chains, decomposition and caring for our environment, and they can incorporate the lesson at home as well by making compost piles or bins in their backyard.

Step 1

Purchase a 5- to 10-gallon plastic container, garbage bin or barrel with a tight-fitting lid. Make sure it is food grade only to prevent harmful chemicals from mixing in with the scrap. Wash it thoroughly with hot, soapy water and a brush, and allow it to dry overnight.

Step 2

Drill holes about ½ inch wide throughout the body of the barrel, including the lid and the base. Space them 4 to 6 inches apart.

Step 3

Decide on a suitable location for the compost bin. Suggest to the children how it should be placed in a shady area, preferably over soil or grass so mini-beasts and worms can enter the bin easily to speed up the decomposition process, and near a water source.

Step 4

Start filling up the bin with alternating layers of "green" and "brown" scrap. Teach the children that green scrap includes grass and leaf clippings, tea bags, annual flowers and fruit and vegetable peels, while brown scrap includes shredded brown paper, coffee filters, wood shavings, scrap wood, twigs and branches and cardboard.

Step 5

Mist the bin through the holes to moisten the consistency of the contents inside. Tell the children they should frequently check to ensure it is moist and not dry.

Step 6

Turn the compost bin once or twice a week with a long stick to aerate the contents and mix them well. Do this yourself while the children watch, or assign them duties according to their classroom performance to motivate them.

Tips and Warnings

  • Drilling holes smaller than 1/8 inch will prevent worms and mini-beasts from entering the bin, thus prolonging the decomposition process. Chop all the contents so they are small to speed up the process. Tell children not to add pet manure, plastic, metal, glass, diseased plants or flowers, dairy products or oils.

Things You'll Need

  • Large plastic container with a lid
  • Hot, soapy water
  • Washing brush
  • Drilling machine
  • Containers
  • Green and brown scrap
  • Spray bottle
  • Stick


  • Composting in Schools
  • Classroom Composting
  • How to Make Compost in Schools
Keywords: compost bins, classroom compost bins, childrens classroom compost bins

About this Author

Tanya Khan is a freelance author and consultant, having written hundreds of thousands of words for various online and print sources. She has an MBA in Marketing but her passion lies in giving her words wings.