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Author

Resources for Rethinking

Grades

3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th

Subjects

Science, English Language Arts, Mathematics

Resource Types

  • Lesson Plans
  • Activity - Classroom
  • Experiments
  • Worksheets
  • Assessments

Regional Focus

North America

Format

PDF

Building a Vermicomposter Action Toolkit

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Synopsis
  • This resource is a collection of activities centered around building a vermicomposter using red wiggler worms to turn organic waste from school lunches into fertilizer and save it from landfills.
  • Students will learn how waste is traditionally disposed of, ways to reduce waste, the benefits of composting, how to build and maintain a vermicomposter, and how to feed and care for worms.
  • The resource includes various activities, such as mind maps, scientific experiments, trivia games, data collection, and graphing.
Teaching Tips

Positives

  • Students will feel empowered by taking action in their school community to reduce waste.
  • The hands-on and experiential learning activities will engage students.
  • Students learn to care for worms and treat them humanely, which fosters kindness and empathy.

Additional Prerequisites

  • This toolkit is also available in French.
  • The resource provides student worksheets throughout the PDF, and there is a link at the bottom of page 3 to access them as Google Docs.
  • The Global Goals webpage link on page 5 and the Waste Reduction Week Canada - Resources link on page 39 are broken.
  • Some students may not want to work with the worms. Teachers should encourage but not force students to touch the worms.
  • Teachers need to recruit other classes to adopt a compost bin to maintain. The resource suggests one class per 1-2 compost bins.
  • The appendices provide necessary information about caring for the worms and maintaining the vermicomposter.
  • There is some significant teacher preparation and materials required. Teachers must provide red wiggler worms, Rubbermaid bins and lids, garden soil, trays, eggshells, newspaper, wooden splints, string, gloves, sensitive scales, and a power drill.
  • The resource includes links for where to buy Red Wiggler worms online.

Differentiation

  • This resource was written for use in Canada but can be used elsewhere with minor modifications to the background information and trivia questions.
  • Reflection questions accompany many activities, which students can use for independent journaling, small group discussions, or whole class share-outs.
  • There are numerous links to additional resources throughout the lesson that can be used to learn more about topics of interest.
  • The lesson includes multiple extension activities and assessment options.
  • Science and biology classes can use this resource to learn about worms, composting, ecosystems, and biotic vs abiotic factors.
  • This resource can be used in Earth science classes when learning about waste reduction, food waste, and sustainability.
  • Teachers can make cross-curricular connections with math classes through data collection, analysis, and graphing activities.
Scientist Notes
This resource from Learning for a Sustainable Future is a classroom project that tasks students with building and maintaining a vermicomposter. Before beginning composting, the resource forces students to engage with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, helping them understand the impacts of reducing and reusing waste. The action toolkit has links to excellent sources that provide important background and extension information. The resource highlights the climate implications of food waste and the benefits of composting. This resource is detailed, clear, and recommended for teaching.
Standards

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • Mathematics
    • Data Literacy (K-5)
      • 4.DL.B.5 Make a line plot to display a data set of measurements in fractions of a unit (1/2, 1/4, 1/8). Solve problems involving addition and subtraction of fractions by using information presented in line plots. For example, from a line plot find and interpret the difference in length between the longest and shortest specimens in an insect collection.
    • Statistics & Probability (6-8)
      • 6.SP.B.5 Summarize numerical data sets in relation to their context.
  • Science
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • 5-ESS3-1. Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth’s resources and environment.
      • MS-ESS3-3. Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • 3-5-ETS1-3. Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • MS-LS2-3. Develop a model to describe the cycling of matter and flow of energy among living and nonliving parts of an ecosystem.
  • English Language Arts
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • SL.PI.3.4 Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.
      • SL.PE.6.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 6 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
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