A Compost Critter Investigation for the Kids

slaters in compost
Investigating compost critters
This week is International Composting Awareness Week so it’s the perfect opportunity to engage kids in the wonderful world of composting. Today my students and I rolled up our sleaves, pulled out the magnifying glasses and had a fun afternoon investigating the animals that live in our school compost. The kids absolutely loved it and I had a hard time getting them to put the compost back at the end of the lesson. They all wanted to stay after school and keep going!
To undertake your own compost critter investigation you will need:

  • a large piece of white paper
  • a magnifying glass
  • a stick or spoon
school garden compost for kids
Use a magnifying glass to help identify animals living in the compost
  • Collect a small sample of well-rotted compost from the compost pile.
  • Spread it out over the paper.
  • Use a stick or spoon to move around the compost on the paper and the magnifying glass to find as many different animals as possible.
  • Ask the kids to identify as many animals as they can by name and then help them with the names they may not know. Some common animals you may find include earthworms, slaters, vinegar flies, slugs, earwigs and spiders. (Make sure you discuss the importance of respecting the animals that live in the compost and put them back at the end of the investigation. Also discuss how some creatures can bite and sting so it is important to ask an adult before touching with bare hands).

Other questions you may like to ask the kids include:

  • “What does the compost look like?”
  • “What does it smell like?”
  • “What can you see in the compost?”
  • “Which compost animal do think is the most interesting? Why?”

What is your favourite compost critter? Mine would have to be the earthworm.