Sample Learning Activity

Worm Observation Time: 30-45 min

To provide child with hands-on experience with worms and an opportunity to carefully observe them.

Objective: Child will be able to identify the environmental and agricultural benefits of worms, as well as identify worm behavior and habitat.

Materials:

  • Worms

  • Moist paper towel or newspapers to put worms on

  • Soil (from the ground)

  • Magnifying glass

  • Worm Observation sheet

  • Worm Experiment sheet (see below)

 

Activity Outline:

  1. Begin by asking child, “What doesn't have eyes or ears, but has a mouth and can sense heat, light and being touched? After telling them that the answer is earthworms, ask if they have ever seen an earthworm. Where do earthworms live (in the garden, in the concrete, in our house?) How would you describe an earthworm? After explaining that earthworms like to live in dark, damp soil, tell child that worms are important to our soil because they make tunnels that allow air and water to enter the soil. In digging their tunnels, earthworms, mix soil layers which make it helpful for growing fruits and vegetables. Many farmers understand that when their soil is healthy, their plants will be healthy and they won’t need to apply chemicals that can be harmful to the earth and people.

  2. Give your child a small pile of worms and soil. Be sure you’ve explained how to be respectful of all creatures and that worms are fragile. They don’t liked to be poked, prodded or torn in half and they like it moist so will wiggle to find a moist place.

  3. Have your child spend time gently observing the worms. Ask your child if they see:

    • Different sized earthworms?

    • Baby worms? Eggs?

    • Anything interesting on their body?

    • Eyes, ears, mouth, nose?

  4. Have your child conduct a few worm experiments and talk about his/her answers.

 

Worm Observation Worksheet

  • Observe your worm closely. Notice anything special? 

  • What does it eat? 

  • What do worm eggs look like? 

  • Is your worm round or flat? 

  • Is it male or female? 

  • Can it see or hear? 

  • Does it have teeth? 

  • Does it need soil to live?  

  • Does it need water? 

  • What are worm castings? 

  • Is the skin moist or dry? 

  • Any other observations?

  • What would you like to know about your worms?

  • How will you find out what you want to know about worms?

 

Do some gentle worm experiments. What did you find out?

 

Example Worm Experiments

Do worms like it wet or dry?

Set up wet versus dry conditions on opposite ends of a container. Place worms in the middle and record which way they go. 

Do they stay in one place? After 5-10 minutes, where are most of the worms? 

Repeat this experiment several times with different worms.

 

Do worms prefer darkness or light?

Set up dark and light conditions in an otherwise a container. Place worms in the middle and record where they go. After 5- 10 minutes, where are most of the worms? Repeat this experiment several times with different worms.

 

Can worms see or sense different colors?

Examine a worm carefully with a hand lens to locate eyes. Can you find any? Shine a bright light on the worm. What is the reaction? 

Cover the light with red cellophane and try again. Any reaction? Use different colored pieces of cellophane and record reactions. 

Can worms sense colored lights?

 

Is there a top and a bottom to a worm?

Examine a worm carefully with a hand lens. Note any differences in color, anatomy, and shape between present upper and lower sides. Turn the worm over. What happens? Talk about reaction.

Repeat several times with this worm and others.

 

The Worms Go Marching Song

(Sung to the tune of “The Ants go Marching,”

Words by Kathy Lyons)

The Worms go marching on by one,

Hurrah! Hurrah!

The worms go marching one by one,

Hurrah! Hurrah!

The worms go marching one by one,

We better go now, here comes the sun.

Chorus

And they all go marching down into the ground,

Where it’s cool and it’s wet

Squirm, squirm, squirm, squirm

Squirm, squirm, squirm

The worms go marching two, by two…

We are part of the garden too

Chorus

The worms go marching three by three…

We eat your kitchen scraps for free.

Chorus

The worms go marching four by four

We’ll happily eat your apple core

Chorus

The worms go marching five by five

We help the soil, and that’s no jive

Chorus

The worms go marching six by six… (make up

your own works)

 

Weighing Worm Waste (Time: 10 min)

Overview: 

If you plan to start worm composting, calculate how many worms you will need and how much waste worms can consume in a day before you buy your worms. After your worms arrive, calculate how much waste you can feed them. Too much food waste will sit, smell and attract vermin.

 

Materials:

  • 1 scale

  • 1 bucket of food scraps (i.e. potatoes, apples)

  • plastic containers

  • 1 lb. worms.

 

Activity Outline:

  1. Tell your child that “Worms eat half of their body weight in food each day and that 3 lbs. of worms will eat about 1.4 pounds of organic food scraps each day. With this formula, how much will 1 pound of worms eat every day? Ask how you might figure this out. What materials do you need. How can you measure it?

  2. Save your “fresh” food scraps for a day— vegetable and fruit matter, nothing cooked, no dairy, no meat— then, weigh it.

  3. Based on the weight of the food scraps for a day, how many worms will you need? 

  4. Now, based on your calculations of how much 1 pound of worm eats per day and how much food scraps you produce in a day, calculate how many worms you would need for the scraps you produce in one week.

  5. Discuss what you’ve found out. 

  6. Look at the waste you throw away each day and then for a week. Talk about how some food times have more bulk than the same weight of other food items (lettuce versus potatoes). Talk about ways you can reduce your food waste and/or other alternatives (buy more worms).

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