At this point in the year, the children have a fairly good understanding of what belongs in the recycling and what belongs in the garbage. It became clear that with the amount of food scraps ending up in the garbage, we needed to be more environmentally aware with regards to what to do with them. A while back, we had the children put the scraps in a bin and placed a lid on it. I don’t have to tell you what began to happen after a few days. Before the children came in one morning, we put the moldy fruit in a clear ziploc bag and left the bag at the Discovery Centre for the children to investigate. They had some interesting observations:
R: There’s some dust on there. There’s germy stuff. I could see some rotting apple.
A: I think the green things are leaves. Or rotten.
Av: The green thing is squishy.
M: The green thing was on the orange and the apple is getting rotten.
Mr. P.: What do you mean when you say “rotten?”
M: Rotten means you can’t eat it anymore. It’s not good anymore.
Mr. P.: Is there something else we can do instead of putting them in the garbage?
M: Put it in the compost. When things get rotten, you put it in the compost bin and the worms eat it and help the plants.
R: When the worms eat the rotten things they make soil. There’s a special door at the front of the composter.
Mr. P.: Are there worms in there now?
M: No, because it’s winter.
N: Maybe we can make something for the worms to live in.
And so began the construction of our composter. We discussed what we might use. The children knew we needed a box or a bin. There are many different sources on the web for making your own vermicomposter. I found some very simple instructions from Shedd Aquarium and projected their picture of the compost bin. The children were encouraged to “read” the picture and decide how to begin to approach this project. They noticed the holes. Some thought they were for the worms to crawl through, others were sure they were to let air in so the worms could breathe. As we “read” the picture, we came up with our own instructions on how to make the composter. I asked the children how we could make the holes. At first they were sure they needed scissors. So they gave that a try, but soon found it wasn’t working. One friend said we needed a screwdriver. Another said, “We need something that has small holes and will turn on here (the bin) and will make holes.” I really wish I had some hand drills so the children could drill their own holes. Unfortunately, I did not and I had to get a little more involved than I would have liked. Nonetheless, the children found this quite intriguing. When I showed them the power drill, a few said, “That’s it! That’s the screwdriver!”
Once our composter was built, we needed to prepare it for the worms. We used instructions from Cathy’s Crawly Composters to learn how to prepare the bedding. The children tore strips of newsprint, white paper, coffee trays and packing cardboard fibre and added it to the bin. We added soil and spritzed it with water in anticipation of the arrival of the worms. Then we awaited their arrival…