Worm Composting for Elementary School Lesson Plan

Instructor: Alexis Jones

Alexis has taught grades 1 through 6, and has a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction.

Ewwwww, worms! Worms are far from merely slimy and dirty, they are quite useful. In this lesson, designed for 5th graders but certainly appropriate for younger students, students will learn what worms do and observe a worm compost themselves.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • distinguish between trash, compost, and recyclable materials
  • observe and record in a science journal


60-90 minutes the first day, then several weeks of observations to follow

Curriculum Standards

  • 5-LS2-1

Develop a model to describe the movement of matter among plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment.


Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacherled) with diverse partners on grade 5 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

Materials and Preparation

  • Book about worms
  • Recyclable-compostable-trash pictures or items for sorting activity
  • Container for worm compost (Large storage container, for example)


  • composting
  • recycling
  • gizzard
  • castings


In this series of activities, you'll gradually be moving your young students from the Ewwww! factor of worms to seeing them as useful. To begin with, read a book about worms. It doesn't necessarily have to focus on composting at first; the Wendy Pfeffer and Steve Jenkins book below is a suggestion. Take some time with this book: After each couple of pages, have students reflect on what they learned by talking to a neighbor, writing in a science journal, or drawing a picture. You will also want to review the vocabulary list below with them at this time.

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