We explored three different kinds of worms: Earthworms, Tubifex worms and Nematodes. The kids liked observing the earthworms, “wiggly worms”. They liked that the worms are basically food tubes that eat and then poop, which led to a discussion of decomposition and nutrient recycling. They observed that the you can see poop inside of the gastrointestinal tract of the partially transparent earthworms. The kids took toy annelids (snakes) all over the yard eating and pooping out worm castings. Zev observed that the toy snakes would be a better representation of segmented worms if they could stretch and compress themselves. Zev composed a song, “Worms have no eyes.” We crumbled up old leaves and a flower to feed to the pet earthworms. Each child was given a beaker with a ball of tubifex worms to observe. Cassandra got very attached to hers, and carried it around for a long time. We compared anatomy between annelids and nematodes.
Materials – Earthworms (bought from a garden store, stored in a tub of dirt in the backyard and fed old plant matter, we fed ours dried leaves from the yard, pea pods, and old flowers), Tubifex worms in water (from a pet store, stored in water in the fridge when not in use), old bowls and recycling containers, segmented toy snakes (from the art store).
We folded measuring distances into this game. It was fun to walk around the yard measuring things. We also drew worms in various media and practiced measuring them.
Materials – rulers (our favorites were made from popsicle sticks), chalk, lab notebook, markers.