What’s Organic?

The past couple of weeks we’ve been learning about the difference between inorganic and organic in my garbology 101 class. I’ve been using different activities to help the children understand what organic means. First I read to them from Trupti Godbole, Govind Mukundan, and Poonam Bir Kasturi’s children’s book The Magic Gamla Pot. It’s a terrific tool to teach children about the wonders of composting–it has lots of activities and games in it as well (you can get it at the Daily Dump).

Then we did one of the book’s activities that asks us to identify various objects to see where they come from–in other words, is it organic or not? Objects like a banana or a paper airplane, a plastic bag, or an onion. Then the activity asks several questions comparing you (a human) to a metal dustbin and to a tree. There are 7 such questions which basically amount to determining if an object can:

1) breathe

2) feed

3) excrete

4) grow

5) fell/be sensitive

6) reproduce

7) move

If an object can do most of the above things then it is organic and it can be composted.

We took this activity outside with another activity from Garbology 101 to explore nature composting on its own. The children had to dig in the dirt a bit, and fortunately it had just rained, so we explored all the various life forms on the trees, under stones, in the dirt, which led us to find al sorts of creatures (including the very small frog and snail pictured below).  But we also got a bit of a glimpse of leaves decomposing on their own.IMG_20150716_092108 IMG_20150716_093859 IMG_20150716_093908

Then we compared what nature is doing to what we humans are subjecting nature to–namely the mixing of organic and inorganic waste together, which is a horrible combination, as you can see below!

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Finally, we had a scavenger hunt to find various inorganic and organic items around the junior school to see what was lying around and what we could do with it once we found it. Children had to find things like a fruit peel, seedpods, plastic bags, paper, sweet wrappers, and unbroken glass. Then we segregated the waste and put it where it belongs, especially sorting the organic waste from the dry waste. The children loved the scavenger hunt and it was definitely a terrific tool to get them to identify various items so they could learn what typical trash items are made out of and whether or not they are recyclable. You can see them running around below.

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