A Spring Composting Initiative – “Do the Rot Thing!”

The Beavers enjoyed many signs of spring this week!  The week  began with an inquiry centered on a mystery fallen branch that some friends found in the garden. We asked the Beavers what they thought would happen if we placed the branch in water. Hypotheses ranged, but to everyone’s pleasant surprise, beautiful white flowers began to bloom. The branch became the center of many observations.  Here are some pictures of the beavers in the science center, sketching their noticings.

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With the Beaver’s emergent interest in spring happenings, we decided to use the time to reintroduce our compost bin as a focal point of our curriculum.  We broke out the worms for some open-ended exploration.

After the Beavers had some time to bond with our wriggly friends, we started a conversation about the importance of composting.  Throughout the year, the children have shown a commitment to caring for our worms and reusing our food scraps.  At lunch, we often overhear them reminding each other to freeze their banana peels or rip their tangerine peels into small pieces.  Composting is important to the Beavers, but why? We asked them to think more deeply about what it means to compost.

What is Compost?

Carmen – It’s a bin with worms in it.

Vivian – We feed them food scraps and newspaper.

Why do we compost?

Téa – to help animals get food.  [we’re helping] worms

Lucia – So the worms can have more dirt to dig in

Jalen – Because worms eat banana peels and orange peels. It’s a good thing because they like to eat the peels

Ezra – Because they need it to make more dirt

Milo- I think anything with a core can be eaten by a worm. I think I saw a worm eat a core of a corn

Téa – the worms poop so much!… If you have so much garbage, you can give half of it to the worms and keep giving halves of all the garbage

Ava- We need healthy things for worms, like those things in the bin helps them grow bigger

Jake- The worms won’t grow bigger and bigger like us, they don’t have feet… they grow longer and longer.

Cate-It is good to compost because it makes more dirt for the world

Ruby- Why do we need the compost? because when the worms are living in that box we can set them free and we can use them for plants.

The Crickets came into our classroom for a surprise delivery of tangerine peels. The Beavers took this opportunity to thank and inform the crickets about what kinds of compost materials they can continue to bring down to our classroom to share with our worms.

The Beavers clearly understand how and what we compost, but we realized they needed more time to process why we compost.

On Wednesday, during half groups the Beavers engaged in an activity delineating the “journey of garbage”.  We began by reading Here Comes the Garbage Barge by Jonah Winter, a book that tells the true story of one small town in Long Island with a massive garbage problem.  As the author states, the moral of the story is: “Don’t Make So Much Garbage!” The teachers then asked the Beavers:  How can we reduce the amount of garbage we make?  How are we doing so in our classroom?  To illustrate this concept, the Beavers sequenced some images of garbage; one group of pictures showed the journey of trash ultimately ending up in a landfill. The other set of pictures showed the journey of food waste being added to a worm bin and ultimately, becoming compost.  These were some of their thoughts about the opposing trajectories of a food scrap.

Tea- Once upon a time there was a boy who ate an apple and then he threw it out into the garbage can. Sadly the boy watched as the garbage truck took away the garbage and ended up in the landfill.  I prefer [the composting] one  because it is helping the earth be a better place for everyone to live. It takes up a lot of space in our beautiful earth!

Emerson- First there was a boy.  He was eating an apple then and it waste some earth, which we could have made a big metal can to bury it. And this way we can save the earth.

Cate- The boy was eating an apple and he decided to put it in the compost bin, the worms get to work and they make soil.

Through this illustration, the Beavers were able to assess the benefits of composting, and how composting is an important step in our journey to reduce the amount of garbage we produce.

Following this discussion, the Beavers illustrated what they envision for our compost.  Starting with one of the images from our sequencing activity, the Beavers created visual storylines depicting how we can use the beautiful, fertile soil our compost bin is turning.  While some imagined returning the compost to the earth for plants and flowers, others imagined the next generation of worms wriggling happily through our worm bin.

When we return from spring break, we plan to harvest our compost and put it to use.  We will discuss the ways in which we can positively impact the earth and service our community.  Bridging our classroom project to the larger school community, we hope to use our knowledge to educate others about the power of composting.  Stay tuned…

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