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Earth Day Lesson: Cafeteria Compost


  • Science


  • K-2
  • 3-5
  • 6-8
  • 9-12

Brief Description

Students create a compost pile in the schoolyard, using lunchroom food scraps and yard clippings.


Students will

  • learn about composting.
  • create a compost pile, using non-meat food scraps from the lunchroom and ground clippings, such as leaves and cut grass.
  • work together in cooperative groups.


Earth Day, compost, pile, cafeteria, lunchroom, clippings, food scraps, environment

Materials Needed

  • teacher-selected library sources about composting or the Web sites listed in the lesson section
  • paper
  • pens or pencils
  • computer(s) with Internet access (optional)

Lesson Plan

  • Discuss the terms compost and composting, using a dictionary, teacher-selected sources, or information from
  • Discuss reasons composting is helpful to the environment, using information from Why Composting?
  • Tell students that they are going to make a compost pile, using non-meat food scraps from the cafeteria or lunchroom and yard trimmings from the school grounds. Have students write letters to the principal, cafeteria staff, and maintenance staff to get the necessary permissions for the project.
  • Work with students to create the compost pile, using steps and suggestions from teacher-selected library sources or one or more of the following suggested sites. If Internet access is not available to everyone, make printouts of the information from the sites.

Composting Recipe
Composting in Schools


Evaluate students' participation in the project.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

Submitted By

Lois Lewis

National Standards


Updated 3/31/12