Learning about Decomposition

Decomposing Activity - An Everyday Story

Decomposing Activity - An Everyday StoryI mentioned last week that Jack and Sarah have been asking a lot about our rubbish lately. Even though we have had a compost bin for about three months now and they help to take out the scraps, Jack and Sarah have never really asked how it worked. Until recently.

“Mummy, why do we compost?” “What happens in the compost bin?”

There was our question of inquiry… What happens in the compost bin?

Decomposing Activity - An Everyday Story

Today we made a mini compost bin so we could watch the process of decomposition. We saved an apple core, pear core and a little slice of pumpkin.
Decomposing Activity - An Everyday Story Decomposing Activity - An Everyday Story

The kids were very excited and full of questions. They carefully filled the containers with dirt from the garden and added a little water. The poor pumpkin piece got quite the watering so it will be interesting to see how the water affects the rate of decay.

Decomposing Activity - An Everyday Story

I realised when the kids and I were talking, that they really have no concept of time. We were talking about how long they thought the food would take to decompose. Jack thought, three hundred days for the apple, 400 for the pumpkin and 500 days for the pear.

And don’t you just LOVE the little picture of him scratching his head and contemplating…”hm”.
Decomposing Activity - An Everyday Story

Now Sarah. Well she thought the apple would take 1 billion days and 6000 for the pear. Love that girl. Seriously, no concept of time. We started a little tally in Jack’s workbook so we’ll just wait and see how long each takes.

The container also has three thermometers so the kids can record the temperature of the soil. I have no idea how the temperature changes as food decomposes so I am interested to see what happens too. Decomposing Activity - An Everyday Story

Jack and Sarah have checked on their compost container about 400 times already hoping to see them disappeared (even though Sarah predicted it would take a billion days).

I also got the kids to take a picture of each food. I’m hoping they’ll want to take another picture each day as each piece decomposes. I thought the photos would make a great time-lapse video of the whole process. Decomposing Activity - An Everyday Story

So that’s the start of a new inquiry. I think this one is going to be really interesting.

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Jack and Sarah are using this See Through Compost Container

7 Replies to “Learning about Decomposition”

  1. Wow, these are things that I as an adult have no idea about and I am curious of the outcome. I would love to hear the follow up on it soon. Really good science experiment!

  2. This is so cool!! I’ve composted, but I have no idea the true timing of things. Since you’re in a much small container inside, it might be interesting to compare the temperatures with that of your outside compost. I’ve read that in the really big piles, it gets so hot it’ll burn your skin if you stick your hand in the middle.

    I’m loving your blog. I have a 10 month old boy, and I work, but he’s at a daycare here in the States that follow an Reggio Emilia philosophy.

  3. What a great thing to explore!! We also have a compost bin & worm farm. My 2 year old is really interested in worms!! Getting a contain for them like your mini compost bin might be a great way for her to be able to observe them some more!??? Thanks for sharing 🙂

  4. This looks terrific. We have both a worm farm and compost at our school and this would be fantastic. Although the children like the notion they are not devoted with the separation and delivery of scraps. This is possibly because they don’t understand what happens when the scraps go in. Your container is amazing! I have done a quick online search and come up with nothing remotely similar. It seems to have a convex focal point for each section that would help with observations.Could you please tell me where you purchased your container?

    1. It looks like the Now You See It Now You Don’t Container from Educational Insights.

    2. It’s called the See Through Compost Container (here’s a link: http://www.teaching.com.au/product?KEY_ITEM=EN5095&KEY_ALIAS=EN5095 ) I really liked the magnified sections too. It’s a great product.

  5. Wow! This is so cool. I’m bookmarking this for when my son gets a bit older.

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