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Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse

Build an Outdoor Compost Heap

Lesson Description:
Students will be able to...
  • Describe the composition of soil and give examples of the ways in which it is formed.
  • Identify and describe ways to protect the environment (e.g., composting and recycling).
  • Identify beneficial microorganisms that live in soil and explain how they are beneficial.
  • Write an expository piece that provides facts and details, and describes and analyzes the composting process.

Lesson Type:
  • Project

Sustainability Topic:
  • Gardening
  • Waste Reduction

GEF Program Category:
  • Green Thumb Challenge

Time Needed:
60 minutes for lesson and 3-6 months to add materials to the compost bin
Standards Addressed:
Science Standard 2: Understand earth’s composition and structure
  • Benchmark # 4: Know the composition and properties of soils (e.g., components of soil such as weathered rock, living organisms, products of plants and animals; properties of soil such as color, texture, capacity to retain water, ability to support plant life)

Science Standards 6: Understand relationships among organisms and their physical environment
  • Benchmark # 5: know that all organisms (including humans) cause change in their environments and these changes can be beneficial or detrimental

Technology Standard 4: Understand the nature of technological design
  • Benchmark # 6: Use appropriate tools, techniques and quantitative measurements to implement proposed solutions

Technology Standard 6: Understand the nature and uses of different forms of technology
  • Benchmark # 2: Know that elements of an agricultural system are designed to maximize the interaction and production of all the elements in the system (e.g., by composting)

Geography Standard 14: Understand how human actions modify the physical environment
  • Benchmark # 3: Know how human activities have increased the ability of the physical environment to support human life in the local community, state, us and other countries (e.g., improving soil quality through composting)

LanguageArts Standard 1: Use the general skills and strategies of the writing process
  • Benchmark # 7: write expository compositions (e.g., develop the topic with simple facts, details, examples, and explanations, use structures such as cause-and-effect, chronology, similarities and differences)

Materials Needed:
  • Bin (depends on method of composting; this example focuses on a chicken wire heap, which is inexpensive to buy and easy to set up.)
  • Contain

School or Group:
Green Education Foundation (GEF)
Contact Email:
Lesson Documents:
application/pdf OutsideCompost.pdf
Located in: Language Arts

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