Montessori Elementary Homeschool Blog - with documentation of our infant Montessori, toddler Montessori, and primary Montessori experiences; as well as preparation for the upcoming adolescent Montessori homeschool years.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Biology: Vermi-composting

Yep. Counts for school ;)


Composting. With worms.
Montessori elementary practical life in action.
or is it biology?
or geography?
Actually - practical life at the elementary level is integrated into every subject. 

The container just to get started.
Our real bins arrive soon. 
Our "real bins" are still going to be homemade; I simply can't justify spending $65 on the cheapest variety; $120 on the one I really want... And Legoboy approved (actually he was the one who balked at the price first!). So we have bins coming about twice the size of the above (6 of them for $30) - drill holes in the bottoms; the bottom bin will be placed inside a tub we already have, for liquid (worm tea) to drain from it; then we start filling the bottom bin; as it gets pretty full, we place the next bin on top of it with some scrumptious yummies for the wormies - they crawl upward through the holes (the bottom of the top bin rests on the top of the compost below) as they have less food below and more options above. As that one fills, we add another bin. Eventually, the bottom one is pretty much worm-free (doesn't have to be perfect) - and we have perfect compost for both indoor plants and our outdoor garden.

Just have to lift the bins and remove the bottom one. The liquid we have a hose set up to suck up the "worm tea" which is also good for enriching the soil around plants.


I was looking for a drawer system - so we could move drawers around and not deal with lifting out bins -- but I couldn't find one I liked. I sent Legoboy on a mission to find one and he came up empty too. Some close calls, but we both really like the systems where *we* don't move the worms - the worms transport themselves, so the next bin up needs to touch the compost below...

(if anyone has ideas, please share!!!)

Here is one little guy!  

We ordered a 250-count bag. Comes with the worms and some soil.
Our mailman placed these on our front porch in 32 degree temps. 

Yep. SOMETHING told me I better stop at home between dropping off Legoboy to tae-kwon-do and going to the atrium. Sure enough, a small white priority mail box was sitting on my freezing porch. 

It looks like they are no worse for the wear! 

Less than 12 hours - they've made some nice tunnels!
How did we know how many to order? Recommendations seem all over the place - and it does depend on the size of your bins. In the end, Legoboy decided we should go with one person's recommendation which really seemed to hit home: buy the smaller amounts and the worms will adjust to their environment. Everything we read agrees that the worms WILL adjust - they will not lay eggs if there is not enough food; but they will lay more eggs when there is more food and more space. They naturally balanced themselves out --- so why buy more that might die, when we can spend less money and let them "be fertile and multiply" - even if it is worms, let's create life instead of intend to destroy it. 

Cool. Then he has his joke below. Sigh. 

Legoboy is ok with the worms; but when it came time to actually look at them? 

"Ewwww! I am STAYing OUT of the kitchen!" (where we have the bin sitting for now - it will be moved to our basement once I get the windows better insulated.)

Today's reaction? Well, I will post all of the video attempts - none of which correspond to yesterday's reaction - and all of which highlight his goofy personality ;) 

I guess we count this as a preparation for adolescence. Learning those individual skills now (in elementary) that will be useful then. 

It is creeping closer and closer..... 

Exercises of Practical Life at the elementary level should be integrated into all areas of life and study. Children participate in Goings Out, so need lessons on finding their way on a map, planning bus or vehicle driving routes, exploring options for other forms of transportations, making phone calls to inquire about available products or set up an interview, interviewing skills, and the list goes on - just for Goings Out.

This leaves me yet pondering primary level practical life - if elementary practical life is SO practical, why DO we decide to get into the froo-froo stuff at primary? We tong-transfer pom-poms to the tops of golf tees to help with fine motor skills, but what else? It's just not *practical* - and there are SO MANY *real* practical life activities we can incorporate to practice those fine motor skills AND build skills in other areas.

Every primary (3-6) Montessori material might be intended to have one direct aim- one main purpose - but the indirect aims for some of the materials are almost endless! They are just that deep.

So let's keep up the standard! Real practical life in primary; moving into real (and integrated) practical life in elementary; leading into continued real practical life in adolescence and beyond!


  1. Very cool, I wish we had a compost to use in our garden, oh wait, there is a cat who constantly messes up our I can't garden. ANYway, if we had a vermi compost, I am sure that S would LOVE the worms, and I would not. :)

    1. I have previously purchased worm castings:

      Which is great fertilizer all by itself. There a few places that sell them - some are work-at-home homeschooling moms. Maybe I'll sell some in the future - those that sell it don't always have enough stock... Maybe!


  2. Awesome! Worms! My son would definitely love in a gross boy way and my daughters would just think they were cute and adorable and want to put little blankets on them and build them dirt houses!

    Cute videos! My kids suddenly become shy when I want to show them to the world too!

    1. I couldn't decide which video to post - now I see that they really play off each other nicely ;)

      The worms are creepily fascinating. And you can HEAR them crawling through the stuff in the bins (take the lid off and put your ear close of course - not like you hear it from far away). ;)