KS2 Science: How to Make Compost

Written by marguerite lance
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KS2 Science: How to Make Compost
Making compost is a practical way to reinforce academic skills. (bêche image by Claudio Calcagno from Fotolia.com)

KS2, or Key Stage 2, is the second learning level in British schools, and addresses the needs of children from seven to eleven years of age. KS2 incorporates science projects appropriate for children of this age and are geared towards teaching them about their world.

Making a compost pile is one classic project for KS2 students. Not only do children learn practical life skills, they also reinforce math skills, science skills and an understanding of cause and effect and their world around them.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Spading fork
  • Plant waste (Ensure you have both green and brown debris, e.g., grass clippings and dead leaves.)
  • Kitchen waste (e.g., old fruit and vegetables)
  • Three cups soil
  • A compost bin, a three foot by three foot patch of ground or a piece of chicken wire wrapped to form a cylinder about 30 inches in diameter
  • Tarp

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  1. 1

    Discuss the concept of composting with the child. Explain that compost feeds the garden's soil so that plants will grow big and be nutritious.

  2. 2

    Place the compost bin or chicken wire on a patch of earth. If using a three foot by three foot patch of land, identify this spot.

  3. 3

    Have the child fill the compost bin, chicken wire cage or patch of earth with plant waste, such as dead leaves, grass clippings, plant waste from your garden, fruit and vegetable waste from your kitchen, eggshells and the bottom contents of gerbil or bird cages. When preparing meals, have the child identify what waste should be put in the compost.

  4. 4

    Have the child sprinkle three cups of soil onto the plant waste.

  5. 5

    Cover the compost bin, chicken wire cage or patch of ground with the tarp. You will most likely have to help the child with this part.

  6. 6

    Place more plant debris into the compost bin, chicken wire cage or plot of ground when you have extra. Recover your compost container with the tarp. The child can place the debris in the compost, but may need help moving the tarp.

  7. 7

    Stir the compost with a spading fork after three to four months. Continue to add plant debris from your garden and kitchen. Stir the compost after adding material. The child can place debris, but may need help stirring the compost.

  8. 8

    Check the bottom of your compost pile after five or six months to see if it is brown and crumbly. Do this by moving the compost around with your spading fork. When the bottom compost is brown and crumbly, it is ready to be shovelled into your garden. Though the child can help you identify when the compost is ready, he may need help stirring the compost and placing it in your garden.

Tips and warnings

  • During each phase of compost creation, discuss what you are doing and why with the child.
  • Several websites have activities especially for the KS2 composting project.
  • Do not add cooked foods or meat to your compost bin--it will attract rodents.

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