• A wide-mouth glass jar for each child
  • Organic yard debris (such as fallen leaves, grass clippings, and dirt)
  • Old newspaper
  • Fruit and vegetable peels, cores, and scraps from the kitchen
  • 1 cup rainwater
  • A permanent marker


  1. To get started, have kids toss a handful of soil into their respective jars. Next, let them put in a bit of newspaper and then add kitchen scraps. Finally, add a layer of dead leaves and grass clippings. Repeat these deposits until each jar is mostly full.
  2. If your kids feel the need to express themselves by including more newspaper or going easy on the fruit scraps, let them, as long as you keep one control mixture to monitor as a standard.
  3. Finally, add your rainwater and cap the whole concoction. Write each participant’s name upon his or her lid, and poke holes in the lid for oxygen. Draw a fill line on the glass to indicate the top of the jumbled ingredients.
  4. Lastly, set your composting experiments on a sunny windowsill within view but out of reach.
  5. Every two weeks, mark a line to show the “new” top as nature does her work and the contents settle. Be sure to label it with the date, too, so you can watch the progress of your microbes.
  6. Before your very eyes, your organic matter will turn into a nutrient-rich soil that in about 12 weeks will be ready for your springtime garden.