Grade: Elementary
Subject: Science

#3381. What type of soil do worms like?- An Investigation

Science, level: Elementary
Posted Wed Feb 16 12:38:15 PST 2005 by Emily Bolding (
Hagood Elementary, Pickens, SC
Materials Required: see lesson plan
Activity Time: 40 minutes
Concepts Taught: soil investigation

Objective: The students will learn the various types of soil. They will create a container of four types of soil and predict which type of soil worms best live in.

South Carolina Curriculum Standards Addressed:
Grade 3 Science Standards: Earth Science-Unit of Study: Earth Materials SIIIA1b; SIIIA1d; Inquiry SIB1
Soil: Red clay, humus, sand, leaves
Paper (for dividing the soil)
3 redworms per student (these may be used later to create a classroom compost bin)
Per group of 4: 1 plastic container (946 mL/4 cups size)

Before lesson:
1.The teacher will take clear plastic containers (4 cups or 946 mL size)---One container for each group of 4 students. Make paper dividers by tearing strips of paper into wide shreds (this paper will be used to divide the four types of soil in the containers).
2.Using a 9oz plastic cup, pour sand into the end of the container. Place a paper divider beside the sand, and pour the humus in the container. Then, place the divider beside the soil with humus, and pour the red clay into the next part of the container. Lastly, make a section with a mixture of red clay, sand, humus, and leaves. You should now have a container of soil divided by the paper, so the soil stays separated.
3.Spray a small amount of water in each section to moisten the soil, and to help hold it in place. Now you are ready for your lesson!
During the lesson:
1. The teacher will review with the student previous activities and knowledge of soil. (The different types of soil, the types of soil found in the Up Country and Low Country of SC, etc. . .)
2. After reviewing soil, the class will create a Circle Map. They will list facts about soil that they already know; They can also make a Bubble Map listing adjectives describing soil.
3. The teacher will distribute the soil containers to each group of students. Instruct the students to not touch the soil before they are told to do so.
4. After distributing the soil, each student will receive 2 or 3 redworms. Please do not let the worms get dry. Spray them with water to create a light mist. Do not over water them, for they CAN get too wet! Encourage the students to be nice to the worms, and not to let them crawl off the desks!
5. The teacher will then explain to the students that they are going to conduct an experiment, or investigation. Each student will place their worms in a different type of soil.
6. Remove the paper dividers. The students may see that the worms are already eating through the paper to move to different soil.
7. Have the students predict what type of soil the worms will move to, and tell why. After making predictions, cover the soil with moistened newspaper, and place the lids (with holes) on the containers.
8. Wait a few days. It works well to begin this investigation/experiment on a Thursday, and complete it the following Monday, after the weekend. On Friday, you may want to place some carrot shavings or lettuce under the newspaper for the worms, in case they need it. After leaving the worms for a few days, it is time to find the worms!
9. Cover the students' desks with paper. In the center of the table, place some layers of newspaper. After distributing the containers to the students, have them to CAREFULLY dump the soil onto the paper. Tell them to follow these directions:
*Work quickly! (the worms will move after being dumped out)
*Keep the types of soil separated, so you can keep count of what type of soil you found each worm in.
*Be gentle. Don't tear or squeeze the worms!
10. After the students have each worm accounted for, make a class chart of the results. List each type of soil, and how many worms were found in each type. Remember to compare the original numbers (ex: group one had 3 in the sand to begin, 3 in the humus, 3 in the sand, and 3 in the mixture).

The teacher will assess through informal observations of student participation. Also, the teacher may have the students respond to the following question in their Science Journal: "Draw the chart we completed as a class. Did the worms move to different soil? Why or why not?"