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Learn how to Compost!

Published March 27, 2019

Springtime Activities: Learn how to Compost!


Longer days, the sun shining, the smell of soil and earth outdoors, and the removal of long underwear from your daily wardrobe can only mean one thing:  springtime in Chicago is finally here!
Spring is a great time to plan outdoor activities at your school or at home with your family. Winter offers so many wonderful outdoor activities such as playing in the snow, building snowmen, and sledding but nothing beats going outside and laying in the grass and getting your hands a little dirty on a warm day.

If you have a green thumb or not, spring is a great time to teach the young ones in your life about growing plants and the processes of the natural world that affect us directly- like how our food grows. These activities and experiments are fun and educational for all ages.

One of our favorite hands on activities for the spring is composting in the classroom. In this activity kids will learn that food scraps can be recycled, just like how we recycle paper or glass at home. This happens through the process of decomposition, and at the end of this process, food scraps turn into a nutrient rich soil called compost. Kids will also learn what ingredients are needed to create compost and what items you can and cannot put in a compost bin.

Students build their own soil-arium and mix together food scraps, soil, paper scraps and ‘rainwater’. Students can observe the multi week process and watch their food scraps turn into nutrient rich soil. This soil can be used to plant something at home.

To do this you will need:

  • A wide mouth glass jar, or a clear plastic cup for each child
  • Organic yard debris (such as fallen leaves, grass clippings and dirt)
  • Old newspaper
  • Fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Water
  • Permanent marker

Kids will layer soil, newspaper, and food scraps. This will be repeated until the jar is full. In the end it is ideal to have an even ratio of all 3 of these. You will top off the jar with a little ‘rainwater’ which will help get the decomposition process started. If you can collect rainwater that is great! If not, you can definitely use tap water.

Cap the concoction and poke some holes in the top to let in oxygen. Mark on the container to indicate the top of the ingredients. Lastly, set your compost experiment on a sunny windowsill.

Every two weeks mark a line to show the ‘new’ top as the decomposition process takes place.
In about 12 weeks your organic matter will turn into a nutrient rich soil that will be ready for your garden!

We found this activity on the Tom’s of Maine website. You can view the full activity here.

If you are interested in having a Gourmet Gorilla team member come out to your school to lead a composting activity please reach out to us at

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