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Worm Composting Lessons Plans for Student Grades 1-8, Texas

Worm Composting Lessons Plans for Student Grades 1-8, Texas

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08/18/2010

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Worm Composting: Vermiculture
Grade level:
 1st through 8th
Sample TEKS for 1st grade:Science:
1.11.2A - E1.3A, B
Objective:
Students will be able to compost in a limited space and describe the decomposing process.
Focus:
To convert unwanted, organic matter, particularly food scraps and paper into fertile soil.
Materials:
Containers (you can use wooden boxes, plastic bins such as a 2 feet by 3 feet by 1 inchRubbermaid tub with lid and drainage tray), or holes in the groundA 1-foot by 2-foot by 3-foot box or four 10-gallon containers are big enough to compostthe food scraps for a medium-sized family. Punch 1/8-inch holes in the sides forventilation.Tight-fitting lids help keep pests out of outdoor wooden boxes, but don't use a lid with aplastic container unless the container is well ventilated.)paper soaked in water (Worms will consume newspapers, cardboard, paper towels, andother coarse papers faster than fine printing and writing papers.)red worms (
 
pound) (Brown-nose worms or redworms work best in containers; don't usenight crawlers or other large, soil-burrowing worms. Composting worms are availablefrom various stores and catalogs that sell garden or fishing supplies.)food scraps (Almost any fruit, grain, or vegetable material other than oil is good forworm composting. Suggestions are watermelon, banana peels, tortilla chips, tomato, andbread crumbs. Materials to avoid: Cat and dog droppings can spread disease. Meat andother animal products, fish, and oil can produce odors and attract pests. Some colored
 
inks contain traces of toxic metals.)soil or fine sand to provide gritleaves and other yard trimmingslivestock manure for worms in outdoor containerscrayonsdrawing paperoverhead: diagram of a worm
Procedure:
Teacher presents an explanation of red wigglers (three main parts), touching on reproduction;explain worm composting; and retrieval of worm castings.Teacher points out 1/4-inch holes on tubs. Demonstrate how to tear paper. Paper serves as a"bedding" for the worms to live in. The worms consume it along with the other materials. Tearthe paper or cardboard into strips. Soak it in water, and let it drain. (It's easier to tear cardboardinto strips for bedding if you soak it in water first.)Add this paper bedding to a bin until it is 1/3 full. Keep the bedding damp, but don't let itbecome soaking wet. Add dry paper as needed to soak up excess water. On the other hand, old,dry bedding can harbor pests. Keep your bin in a shaded and sheltered location where thebedding can stay below 90 F.Mix in a little soil or fine sand. Measure out one cup of finely ground soil, with worm, point outparts and how to distribute. Start with a pound of worms for each pound of food scraps you planto compost each week. For example, start with 2 pounds of worms if you will compost 2 poundsof food scraps per week. Unless you start composting more food scraps, you should never needto add any more worms.Store food scraps in a sealed container to prevent flies or roaches from laying eggs in them.Refrigerate them, if possible, until you are ready to add them to your worm compost bin. Addfood scraps in small amounts, especially at first, or your bin may get smelly or heat up.Measure out one fourth cup of organic materials. Add a
-
inch or smaller layer of food scraps ontop, mix it lightly into the top two inches of bedding, and cover everything with at least one tothree inches of dry shredded paper. If you cut or mash your food scraps and keep them dampwhile you store them, your worms will eat them faster. Don't leave any food scraps at thesurface. Wait two days or longer, and then repeat these steps as materials are available.When a worm bin is full, scoop out any undigested food scraps and the material that contains the

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