Sunday, March 18, 2007

Earthworms

It’s springtime, the time of year when many of us start thinking about planting and tending our yards and gardens. Thoughts turn to spring flowers, green grass and garden beds. Where would our flowers and gardens be without earthworms to loosen the soil? Here’s a simple project to do with kids to help them learn what those earthworms are doing underground.

Materials:
A clean one-quart clear glass or plastic jar
2 cups of soil
1 cup humus (partially decayed leaves and roots)
Earthworms (You can dig them up or buy some from a bait shop.)
Apple peelings, pear peelings, shredded carrots or other fruit/vegetable pieces
Dark construction paper
Tape

Directions (By fine young gent and Mom):

1. I put lots of dirt and soil in the jar. On top we put worms and pear peels.
Put about two cups of soil in the jar, followed by the cup of humus. Place the worms and fruit/veggie pieces on top.

2. We put a cover on the jar. It is black.
Use the construction paper and tape to make a cover that will cover the top and sides of the jar completely. Because we didn’t cover the bottom of the jar, our cover slipped on and off easily.

3. We looked at the worms every day.
Take the cover off daily. What do you see?

I noticed lots of things. I saw a root in Maggie’s (big sister) jar. I saw lots of tunnels underground.
After a few days you’ll see tunnels in the soil. The peelings will begin to disappear. You may see some worm castings on the top of the toil.

Care & feeding of earthworms: Earthworms need to keep moist, so make sure that the soil in the jar is slightly damp. Once most of the peels are gone, you can replace them. Once you’re done with your earthworm farm you can release your worms in a garden, compost heap, or yard.

Did you know…..?
….there are approximately 50,000 earthworms per acre of soil?
….earthworms have no teeth?
…..earthworms breathe and smell through their skin?

(Earthworm farm in a jar experiment and facts courtesy of Biology for Every Kid: 101 Easy Experiments that Really Work by Janice VanCleave.)

Books about earthworms:

Worms (Creepy Crawlers) by Lynn Stone




Wiggling Worms at Work by Wendy Pfeffer





Squirmy Wormy Composters by Bobbie Kalman





For earthworm fun online:

The Adventures of Herman the Worm (an internet site with lots of interesting information about worms): http://www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/worms/index.html

An online earthworm coloring book (in pdf format):
www.sfa-cm.org/ColoringBook.pdf

4 comments:

Irie said...

Neato! I love worms. When I was in high school, Dad bought worms in bulk. I separated them into containers, one dozen worms each, so they could be sold as fishing bait. I met thousands of worms, healthy and sick, happy and sad.

Now we are vermicomposters:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vermicompost

nina said...

Thank you thank you. Your post is exactly what I was about to search for. We have been studying worms in anticitpation of Spring. We also enjoyed Wonderful Worms by Linda Glasser and An Earthworm's Life (Nature Upclose) by John Himmelman. We also had Wiggling Worms at work. I will post our results when we get around to doing it. Right now our weather is so nice we just want to play outside.

Sandy D. said...

Oh, we are definitely going to do this.

Can I also recommend this book? An Earthworm's Life, by John Himmelman.

nina said...

Cathy, We made the worm house today in a plastic jar but I'm not sure if I need to make slits or holes for air? Did you?