Amazed by how much life relies on rot, the kids wanted to know if they could create a composter, so they could see the rot close up. I credit The Magic School Bus Meets The Rot Squad: A Book About Decomposition for developing this fascination. Since, composting also provides some amazing soil for use in gardening they are planning to use the healthy soil they create in their composter to grow their own plants. They’re excited and let’s face it, excited kids are way easier to help learn than unmotivated, bored kids! So, let’s compost!
Being a homeschool grandmother has landed my mother in some interesting situations. Contending with a plastic bottle filled with moist dirt, leaves, and rotting vegetable matter is just the newest in a long line of interesting moments for her! While she’s willing to do most things for her grandkids, she’s also great about asking if such atrocities are really necessary. I love letting my kids answer. Here are their reasons for why they are building a composter.
3 Reasons to Make a Composter
- Creating compost creates rich soil to grow things in our garden!
- better soil aeration and drainage
- rich, natural fertilizer needing less chemicals
- better water conservation
- less weeds
- Reduces the volume of trash headed for the landfill.
- Composting is fun!
Grandma is cool with this reasoning, but still wanted to know if possibly the composter could go outside. Their response, “Grandma we can do an outside one too if you want, but we want to see how it happens close up first.” Hence, we have our indoor, mini-composter with a larger scale one coming soon outside!
How to Make a Table Top Composter
There are tons of great plans out there on how to make a composter. This is a simple design for a small composter you can make in your home to see how composting works. Since the composting process takes several weeks, having a visible and highly accessible version works well for our current purposes. Officially if you are planning to build a permanent composter to feed your garden, you will want to go bigger and go outside!
- 2 liter bottle
- nail or push pin (that can be used to make air holes)
- dirt (not potting soil)
- scraps of paper
- food scraps
- spray bottle of water
Cut off the top off the bottle. Save the top.
Use a push pin or nail to poke some holes into the bottom and sides of the bottle for drainage.
Place the bottle on a plastic tray and add dirt, shredded paper, and some leaves.
Spritz with water from the spray bottle.
Now, add the fresher items like food scraps, banana peels, egg shells, and vegetable remains.
Place the cut off bottle top upside down on top of the bottle. This can act as funnel when you are watering
Place in an area with good sunlight exposure.
Everyday, add water and stir the contents so that the bacteria can find some new food. The bacteria will help the fresher items decompose over time. When not in use place a kitchen towel over top of the bottle.
3 Great Books for Garden Lovers
After all that assembly we were ready for a book break. Here are some of our absolute favorite books about gardening and composting. We hope you grab a few and share what you’ve learned or been inspired to create!
Molly’s Organic Farm by Carol L. Malnor and Trina L. Hunner
Meet Molly. In this true story a tiny orange cat takes us on a journey through a community organic farm. As the seasons change, Molly has adventures that entertain while also introducing a wide range of gardening concepts, such as compost, helpful insects, companion plants, rotation of crops, and cover crop. When winter comes Molly is taken into the author’s home, but returns to the garden in the spring. We love happy endings here!
On each page of the story a rhyming couplet provides a brief version of Molly’s adventures. This serves to entertain my younger kids and my older kids enjoy trying to guess the last word of the rhyme.
Two Other Great Book Choices
Secrets of the Garden: Food Chains and the Food Web in Our Backyard by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld offers a great overview of how animals in a garden interact and helps kids begin to see the large role humans play in the overall food web. Plus, as my daughter says, “it still has a good story!” Fantastic book!
Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe for the Earth by Mary McKenna Siddals wasn’t an immediate hit. My kids didn’t spark to this book until we started building our own composter. Suddenly, this book was resurrected from the pile and used as our recipe book. So much so that my daughter used writing the ingredients down as her writing assignment for the week. My kids are having a blast using it like a goal sheet and checking off every item as they add it! This book has been a great find for us!
One More Book Recommendation
All the above books and several more fabulous “nature book” finds have come from Bugs, Bogs, Bats, and Books: Sharing Nature with Children Through Reading by Kathleen T. Isaacs. If books (especially picture books) are a large part of your nature study, this collection is an awesome resource! I’ve had a ton of luck with my kids liking their recommendations and being able to find most of the books in the library. At the time I’m writing this post there are several inexpensive (~$5) used copies available on Amazon.
Join the Nature Book Club!
Every month Nature Book Club shares their story ideas and projects to help kids embrace nature! We’d love for you to link up and join us!
Seed Exploration from Thaleia at Something 2 Offer
Worm Activities & Printables from Jenny at Faith & Good Works
Art project from Emily at Table Life Blog
The Tale of Peter Rabbit Online Nature Book Club from Dachelle at Hide the Chocolate
How and Why to Make a Composter from Erika at The Playful Scholar