K-3, Unit Three, Activity 1: "Garbage in the Garden"

Students will make their own compost. (This is an activity which stretches over 6 weeks.)

Grade Levels: K-3
Time Required: About 1/2 hour, with periodic checks on decomposing activity over 6 weeks
Subject Areas: life science, physical science


  • Waste food (fruit, egg shells, coffee grounds, leaves, grass clippings, vegetables-NO MEAT)
  • Gallon re-sealable plastic bags
  • Magnifying lenses
  • Soil
  • Sketch books or journals to record changes


  1. Have students tear up waste so that it fills 2 measuring cups. Place it in the bag and add a cup of soil. Sprinkle water on the mixture and seal the bag.
  2. Have the students gently shake and squeeze the bag each day to mix the contents. The bag should be left open every other day.
  3. Have students draw the changes they see under magnifying lenses every week. Continue the process for 6 weeks. Have students try to answer these questions:
    • What is growing on the mixture you made?
    • How are the bags different?
    • Where does the growing material come from?
  4. Have students use their compost on a potted plant or in their garden at home.

Self-contained in drawings and answers to questions.

Last updated: November 3, 2017

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