A Worm-Centered Classroom March 27 2010

Learning about worms doesn't have to take place only with a Classroom Worm Bin. Take your study of worms across the curriculum using the following variety of activities.

Building Bookworms

Create a giant Bookworm that travels around the walls of your classroom to foster your students' excitement about reading. Print out several copies of the Bookworm Circle Template, drawing a face on one as the beginning of your Bookworm and writing in your name and the title and author of the latest book you've read. As students finish reading their own books, have them fill out a Bookworm Circle and hang  them up one after another, creating a worm! Before you start, create a goal with your class concerning how many books they can read in a specified amount of time. If they achieve their goal, give out a Bookworm Award!

Writing Activities

Students have learned a lot about worms through their individual or classroom worm bins. Have them put this knowledge to work through writing an expository piece about what they know about worms - use this Paragraph and Picture template for younger kids or the Five Paragraph Essay Graphic Organizer for older students. Another form of expository writing is the "How-To" paragraph or essay, and students could write about how to take care of worms or how to manage a worm bin.

Another great writing idea for your students involves poetry. Use W-O-R-M as the beginning letters of an acrostic poem. Here's an example:

Wriggling around
On a pile of newspaper.
Recycling while eating a garbage

For more of an acrostic challenge, have students use the word D-E-C-O-M-P-O-S-E-R or V-E-R-M-I-C-O-M-P-O-S-T. Use their poems to practice keyboarding skills in the computer lab. Have students add artwork to their poems and hang up for an easy bulletin board!

Science Activities and Experiments

Conduct a Worm Observation session with your students using worms from the Classroom Worm Bin. Before the observation, teach a minilesson concerning the parts of a worm using this Earthworm Diagram for Students (the answers are provided on this sheet, the Earthworm Diagram for Teachers).

Have each student gently place a worm on paper plate with a moist paper towel. Have students fill out the Worm Observation Page as they spend some time with one particular worm from the bin. Discuss your students' observations. What did they notice about their worms? What questions do they have about worms based on their observations? Some common questions include if worms have eyes, their reactions to light and sound, and how earthworms move without skeletons. Allow your students some time and nonfiction books from the library for research to answer their questions.

Math Fun With Worms

To reinforce the skill of calculating passing time, have students conduct a short experiment with your classroom worm bin. Present the question, "How long does it take one pound of worms to eat one cup of waste?"

At a designated time, put one cup of waste in a specific area of the worm bin, burying it a couple of inches into the bedding. Each half-hour or hour - or even randomly throughout the day - have students check the specific area to see if the waste is gone. Document the time when your and your students decide the waste has been eaten by the worms (this may take several hours). Have students use this information to figure out the answer to the question.

To extend this activity, create a chart that estimates how long it would take for 1 pound of worms to eat two cups, then three cups. Have your students finish the chart through 10 cups. For a harder math activity, devise ratios that compare 2 pounds of worms to eat one cup of food, then 3 pounds to 1 cup, and so on. Both charts are included on this Worm Chart sheet.

Studying worms can be a lot of fun, especially when they're included across the curriculum. This real-world experience will help build or reinforce valuable skills in a variety of areas for your students.