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The great compost game


Design and make flash cards to decide what items can or cannot be composted.

  • Estimated time: 30 minutes
  • Location: Outdoors & Indoors
  • School term: All year round
  • Level of experience: No experience needed
  • Subject(s): Science, PSHE, Social Studies

Learning objectives

  • Learn which materials can be composted
  • Make and design flash cards
  • Use this activity to learn about the carbon and nitrogen cycle


Teachers or learners produce picture cards of compostable and non-compostable items, (either drawing or using ICT skills), put these in a bag or box.

Mark two sheets of paper or mark two areas of the classroom, one 'yes' and the other 'no'.


  • Picture cards
  • Print out 'Yes/No' A4 sheet
  • Laminate cards & sheets to make durable
  • Bag or box

Step by step

  1. Discuss what compost is, how it is made and how it is an important way to recycle in the garden. Show what homemade compost looks like (if you have some) and/or compost bought in a bag. Explain homemade compost is free.
  2. Make flash card of items which can be composted. Remember to include items that cannot be composted too.
  3. Compost game: learners pass around the bag and pull out a card. They decide if this item can or cannot be composted and put it on the relevant ‘Yes or No’ sheet. Pass bag around until all items are picked.
  4. Ask the whole group to review their answers by discussing each item and move any as agreed.
  5. Looking at the ‘Yes’ compostable items, ask them to sort these into ‘greens’ (e.g. living plant material, peelings) or ‘browns’ (e.g. twigs, paper, cardboard). Explain that in a successful compost heap there should always be a 50:50 mix of greens and browns.
  6. Discuss what the compost heap will need to break down all the materials successfully.

Hints & tips

  • Collect compostable and non-compostable items to use instead of the cards
  • Use this activity as part of the Earth Matters class growing topic.

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