Monday, August 2, 2010

creating worm farms

After days of rain there was high excitement to discover that dozens of worms had wiggled their way onto our veranda.

This sight ignited the inner wildlife warrior in a group of our girls. 

It became their mission to return their lost worm friends to their rightful habitat in the garden.

They pulled up chairs to give themselves a ringside seat to all the worm action!

Of course, sitting right there, worms in plain sight just wiggling away, the temptation was too great not to "rescue" them over and over again.

So we had to have the talk.  The 'worms are delicate creatures who like to live in the dark moist soil and not the loving but not always gentle hands of little girls' talk.

Not wanting to dampen the girls' interest and curiosity about worms and their behaviour, we came up with a compromise.  

Maybe by creating a habitat for the worms (think ant farms but with worms) the children could keep observing without killing the worms with kindness.  

Making worm farms was a simple process:

Step 1: 

Find a glass or plastic container large enough to fit worms and soil.  We used small aquariums but even a plastic soft drink container would be suitable.

Step 2:

Layer soil and sand in the container, making sure the top layer is soil.  If the soil is dry, add some water so that the soil stays moist.

Step 3:

Gather your worms. Luckily for our intrepid worm hunters, my lovely colleague had her gardening hat on and was digging nearby. With every shovel-load the soil was eagerly inspected for more wiggly friends to add to their collection.

Step 4:

Add food (lettuce, egg shells, tea bags, coffee grinds, fruit peel) to the top of the container. 

Step 5:

Add your worms to their new home, and cover to keep dark.

Over the course of a few days, we should be able to see the worms have tunnelled; eaten their food and mixed up the sand with the soil. 

I love how the natural world taps into children's innate sense of wonder and curiosity -  although I have to admit there is a part of me that is uneasy about keeping creatures in containers - what do you think?


  1. Sounds as if this is a lovely project but . . . I'm in England and, here, there are many varieties of worm and they like different habitats and have different functions in relation to soil and the food they eat . . . So I'm just a little anxious that this might be the same as with you and wondering if you've checked that this particular kind of farm is the right place for these particular worms. (It may well be but . . . ?)

    Esther Montgomery

  2. We bought a worm famr (and farming worms) and I have to say all of the kids who visit want to check it out (not going to happen anymore after I found a red back in there this week! ARGH!!)

    However, my own Wildlife Warrior, Princess, liberated every worm in the garden tidy up and took them over to our composting area, which is now full of big fat worms. They are the only outdoor creature she has not developed a phobia for, and I am hoping it stays that way :)

  3. Ooooh ... my kiddos would LOVE this! Thanks for another wonderful idea to get us exploring nature's wonders!

  4. I've heard worm farms are a great way to compost! We should make one, my son loves creepy crawly bugs!

  5. I've heard worm farms are a great way to compost! We should make one, my son loves creepy crawly bugs!

  6. I love your ideas to get the children connected to nature. I have an award for you. See

  7. This is a really cool idea Jenny but I totally get the creatures in container thing.
    When we bought plants for the "Hush Garden" the pots came in a tray with holes in the bottom which we have sunk into our bug garden and encourage the children to put their mini beasts in there so they can "keep" them ... and no we haven't told them there are holes in the bottom of the tray ... does that make us mean?!
    Donna :) :)

  8. My son loves earth worms. He would think this was a great use of his critter box!

  9. Do you have a compost bin where veggie scraps go?

    If so, then see if it's possible for a sheet of perspex to be put in the front that is covered by a dark door. The door can be opened and the children look through the perspex to see the worm action.

    I find that worms like my compost bin so this is a natural giant worm farm.

    I've also blogged about worms in the past :

    Worm Attitude Test:

    Confessions of a Worm Worrier:

  10. Such a great worm farm, I'm sure they were very happy to oblige themselves to this wonderful learning experience! Plenty of scraps etc! You took great care and attention to show how important living things are.

  11. We have a regular wormy compost bin the kids like to dig in, but we tried this project a few weeks ago with an old fish tank. I just used a piece of black paper as a lid. I know I should have anticipated it, but that weekend we had unexpected, unforecast torrential rain. When we arrived at school we had a pool to drowned worms. We had a little ceremony and buried them. I really ought to try it again, but this time with a proper topper.

  12. Esther, thanks for the tip, I have no idea what varieties they are so I'm leaning towards releasing them all again.

    Sherry and Donna: what is your bug garden? It sounds intriguing. I love the idea of the tray with holes in it - this could well be our solution.

    Juliet: We have a worm farm for composting scraps, but it has a lid at the top. I do love the idea of the worm farm with a perspex sheet though.

  13. My daughters school runs a kitchen garden program and we got to play in the compost a few weeks ago, turning it and finding worms, some of the kids were right into it. My 5yo was horrified, it was so smelly ROFL>

  14. I think I'm with your 5 year old :)

  15. We love finding worms in the garden too and Immy, at 2 1/2, does tend towards killing them with kindness and requires regular intervention! Love your worm farm idea.

  16. okay! i love this worm idea! I so wished i would have read this just 2 days ago. =) We just had a Seed planting Party, ( and this would have been so fun!
    thanks for sharing!
    Have a great week! I LOVE your BLOG!

    Angela in Germany!

  17. We have a worm composting bin in our k classroom and the kids love it! Families bring in their eggshells, coffee grounds, and vegetable peels. We rip up newspaper and add it to the mix too! It's been a strong and engaging tool to teach science.

  18. My kindergarten class one first in our grade level for our elementary school Science Fair. We counted, recorded and charted which kind of dirt worms prefer: dino dirt, Texas clay soil or a combo. Worms prefer composed "dino" dirt. The children loved the experiment and the awarded cupcakes. LOVE your blog!