Exploring for Worms
An indoor-outdoor activity.
Scout out outdoor areas near the school
for worms, so that students can quickly find them during class time.
Hand lenses, pencils, clipboards, and
copies of Worm Worksheet
Ask students: Are farmers and gardeners
grateful for worms in the soil? If students raise their hands to answer
affirmatively, explain that they will find out why worms help the soil and
Researching and reading about worms, students learn how they tunnel through
the soil making it possible for air and water to penetrate and reach the
thirsty roots of plants. As worms dig, they loosen up and mix soil, which
accelerates sprouting seeds and developing roots.
Ask students: What happens to dead plants and leaves lying around the soil?
Worms as well as many small bugs, bacteria and molds eat dead plant parts.
Once worms digest dead plant parts, they excrete castings (waste) that look
like brown bits of earth. The castings are very rich in the nutrients needed
for plant growth. Worm compost, made up of worm castings, is one of the
richest compost forms. Worm compost is an excellent example of how the Decomposition
Nutrient Cycle recycles dead plant and animal parts into new plants.
Accompany class to an unpaved part of
the schoolyard ( a garden, woods, or meadow is best, but even a ball field
will do). If your school has a compost pile or compost "machine," students
will surely find worms inside the compost. Students explore for worms in
rich, moist garden soil, under leaves, rocks, logs, or any rotting plant
Students look for evidence of worm castings - lumpy soil pellets next to
Once students find worms, they closely observe their anatomy, size, texture,
and body parts.
Although it is ecologically sound to observe worms in their natural outdoor
environment, if you hear: "We want to bring the worms inside," prepare students
for Watching Worms .
For this classroom lesson, students gather worms, transfer them to containers,
add moist soil and leaves, and temporarily bring them inside.