Materials List: Soil from Spoiled:
Engineering a Compost Habitat for Worms

Each group needs:

  • 4 clear containers, 11.5 L (~ 12 qt.) to serve as compost bins
  • soil, leaves, and other organic materials found outside for compost; (if the school environment has limited access to organic materials, teachers can purchase various items at a home improvement store and students can choose which to include as their design challenge (for instance: dirt, topsoil, sand, mulch, rocks, leaves, and peat moss)
  • cardboard, newspaper, paper, hay, or pine needles to use as bedding for compost bins (see Troubleshooting Tips)
  • reusable or compostable cups; used to scoop organic materials from outside
  • large plastic bags, 3.78 L (~1 gal); used to hold organic materials before weighing (can be replaced with a sustainable option, such as plastic or glass containers)
  • 450 g (~1 lb.) organic waste; students can also collect organic waste around campus, such as fallen leaves or food scraps
  • 2 magnifying glasses
  • red wiggler worms, 250 count (~50 worms for each compost bin) available at
  • Recycling, Compost, and Garbage Worksheet

To share with the entire class:

  • drill to make air holes in compost bins (a heated needle or hot glue gun may be used as an alternative)
  • nitrile gloves
  • moisture meters, thermometers, and compost turners
    • optional: a Worm Farm Accessory Kit with Compost Tools available online is an all-in-one solution that includes a moisture meter, pH meter, thermometer, compost turner, food scrap handling tool, and compost harvesting scraper        
  • digital scale with tare function that measures in metric and US customary units
    • various types of objects to weigh such as gummy bears, sugar, marbles, and blocks
    • small plastic bags or containers for objects to be weighed in
  • 500 ml beakers for adding water to compost bins when needed (measuring cups or plastic cups can be used as an alternative)
  • projector or Smartboard
  • tape, glue, or stapler
  • scissors

Each student needs:


  • The Little Yellow Leaf by Carin Berger, available online
  • Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe for the Earth by Mary McKenna Siddals, available online
  • Composting: Nature’s Recyclers (Amazing Science) by Robin Koontz, available online
  • Yucky Worms: Read and Wonder by Vivian French, available online
  • Wiggling Worms at Works by Wendy Pfeffer, available online
  • Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin, available online
  • Optional book that can be used for teacher’s background research or as a class reference - Compost: A Family’s Guide to Making Soil from Scraps by Ben Raskin, available online 

Two male students practice using magnifying glasses in an outdoor environment. They are looking through the magnifying glasses at a grassy area.
Observing soil with magnifying glasses.
Copyright © 2019 Andrea Chavez, University of Florida MRET