After Ramsey’s vermicomposting lesson a few weeks ago at Adams school, I decided I needed to “clean-out” my compost bin. I’ve had it for over two years and have never really looked at what’s in there. I teach 6th grade this year, but I stared the worm bin two years ago when I was teaching 4th grade, so most of the students were in my class when the vermicomposting adventure began.
When I mentioned to some students before school what we were going to do, they were freaked out! They were disgusted by the though of taking anything out of the bin. I was shocked! When did kids stop liking playing with dirt and worms??
We started by talking about what might be in the bin. We went over the obvious: dirt/compost, worms, food scraps. We also talked about other decomposers they might see. I has seen some moldy food in the bin when I checked it before school, so we talked about it, too. Then I gave them their job: after laying newspaper out on the table, they were going to sort through a handful of stuff I dug out of the bin. They had to make piles on their tables: compost to keep; worms, newspaper, and food scraps going back in the bin; and any moldy food to be thrown away.
It took about 30 minutes for every student to finally get their hands dirty. Some students refused to touch any food or worms, and only put the compost into the collection containers, but most students eventually got into the activity. As they were working we continued to talk about what was in their batch, what we should be feeding the worms and how much, and why the newspaper is so important to the health of the bin. It ended up being a lot of fun! Now, we are going to use some compost for compost tea and the rest when we do our next round of gardening!