You are here: Home > Education > Teacher Resources > Environmental Activities & Projects > Environmental Lessons > Composting
Have a Question or Comment? Let us know!


Decomposition is a natural process to eliminate organic waste left by plants and animals. Bacteria and other creatures known as decomposers break down leaves, grass, food scraps and sticks to make a nutrient rich additive for soil. Compost is an inexpensive alternative to buying fertilizers and prevents yard waste from going to a landfill. Yard and food waste makes up 13% of household waste that is thrown away in the United States.

Composting Classroom Activities

PreK-3: CSI: Compost Science Investigation

Grades 3-6: Decomposition



Students will compost organic material and observe how materials decompose.


Compost materials: leaves, vegetable, fruit, bread, plant clippings, hay, straw, strips of newspaper, sawdust, pine needles; Composting container: clear heavy large plastic bag, zip lock baggie, or clear plastic 2-Litter bottle or glass jar; 5 gallon bucket; Natural activator: garden soil, compost, manure, alfalfa meal, cottonseed meal; Scoop: garden shovel, spoon


Compost, decomposition, organic matter


  1. Students can compost as a class experiment or in teams. Students collect food waste from home or from their lunches. No oil, dairy, bones, meats or salad dressing.
  2. Create mixture by mixing all materials in a large bucket unless you plan to test materials separately. Add 2 parts brown (leaves, hay, straw, newspaper or sawdust), 1 parts green (vegetable, fruit, bread, plant clippings or pine needles), and 1 part activator. Fill container three-fourth full with compost mixture. Sprinkle water to make moist, if needed. Seal the container or bag and knead or shake. Keep container in a warm place. As an alternative experiment, added water to the compost and leave other dry; aerate compost by allowing oxygen in the container and leave the other sealed without air.
  3. Allow air into compost and mix it every few days.
  4. Students should record observations once a week for 6 to 8 weeks on changes in composition of the compost mixture and color of compost.


Review changes of the compost materials throughout the experiment.


One class period for prep, long term observations.


Use a mixture of soil and compost to plant seeds.
Create compost pile outside to continue composting at school

Grades 7-12 ISW: Comparative Composting

Web Resources

Calendar of Events

Household Hazardous Waste Disposal Program
City Service Departments

April 1-30, 2015
Computer recycling events
City service departments

April 25, 2015
Party for the Planet
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

April 25, 2015
BBB/Rad Air shredding events
Parma Heights and Solon

April 25, 2015
Habitat for Humanity ReStore Tool Drive
Rocky River

April 28, 2015
Compost Seminar & Bin Sale
South Euclid

May 2, 2015
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Patch Event
CanalWay Center

May 2, 2015
Habitat for Humanity ReStore Tool Drive
Shaker Heights

May 5, 2015
Election Day

May 5-15, 2015
Elect to Recycle: Campaign sign recycling
Garfield Heights

May 5, 2015
Compost Seminar & Bin Sale

May 9, 2015
Habitat for Humanity ReStore Tool Drive

May 13, 2015
Compost Seminar & Bin Sale
Shaker Heights

May 16, 2015
Habitat for Humanity ReStore Tool Drive


Register for our e-newsletter