Title of Lesson: Worm Diaries
Subject Area: The Living Environment - Worms
Age: 2nd Grade and up
Book: Diary of a Worm By Doreen Cronin, Pictures by Harry Bliss.
Key Question(s)/Focus: What does an earthworm need to live? What kind of habitat do they need? What is their effect on the soil?
• Children will learn what kind of habitat an earthworm needs to live. They will learn how to collect earthworms, how to build a habitat, observe the worms' behavior, and learn the worms' effect on the environment. They also will compare earthworms' soil to regular soil. The children will make observations, record them in writing, infer and display critical thinking.
• The children will make predictions, display patience, understand proper handling of living creatures/kindness toward living things, show cooperation and interest/excitement.
• Glass jar with cover, soil, sand, black construction paper, young plants/seedlings, small planters or milk cartons, water, worms, leaves, notebook, pencil/pen, white posters, ruler, colored pencils/markers, magnifying glass.
Description of Activity:
Part 1: Reading and Discussion
1. Have a whole class discussion on worms. What do you know about them? How do you feel about them? Why do you think they are important? What do you want to know about them?
2. Read Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin.
3. Discuss the book. What is a diary? Why do we use diaries? What do you think the book is accurately telling us about worms? What parts of the book are just for humor? What do you think a worm does in a day?
4. Explain to the class that they will be making their own worm diaries. They will make entries after each lesson and write something about what they see and learn.
Part 2: Collection and Initial Observation
1. Gather the class in groups of 5 along with the glass jars.
2. Collect worms in the school's yard.
3. Discuss the worms: What do you see? Look through the magnifying glass. What do the worms look like? Hold them. How do they feel? What are they doing? What is on their bodies? Where is the head? How do you know? What color are they? Do they have different colors?
4. Discuss their habitat. What do they live in? What is the soil like? Look through the magnifying glass. Touch and feel the soil. Is there anything in the soil? What does it smell like? What does it feel like?
5. Each student should find at least 1 worm and carefully collect them in a jar. (1 jar per group/about 5 worms per jar).
6. When the children get back to the classroom they will start their first diary entry that will include what they observed about the worms and their habitat.
7. Children are encouraged to include color illustrations with each entry.
Part 3: Making the Worm's Habitat/Observing Effects and Behavior
1. The children will start to fill the jars based on their earlier observations. The teacher will hand out the materials to each group as they name them.
2. What do the worms live in? The groups will add soil. What is in the soil? The groups will add leaves and some sand. Is the soil wet or dry? The groups will add water. Do the worms like light or darkness? The groups will cover the jar after putting in the worms and wrap it in black construction paper. The teacher will set aside some of the soil mixture without worms to be used at a later date.
3. Wait 10 days.
4. In this time, the children will write in their diaries about what they think will happen when they look at the jar again in 10 days.
5. After 10 days, the children will remove the covers and make new observations. Have a whole class discussion. What is new? What do you see? The children should see new worms, movement of the worms into dark soil, shifting of some leaves and soil and sand, and a new smell.
6. The class will make a diary entry about the new observations.
7. Put the jars away for another 10 days.
8. The children will break up into their groups. Each group will uncover the jars again and make new observations together. They will discuss what they see and record the group observations in their own diaries. Children should observe the tunnels and the worms moving around them, how the worms move soil into new places, the castings, and how the leaves look like the soil.
9. Have a whole class discussion.
a. Discuss with the class that how the leaves have become part of the soil to make a new soil.
b. Discuss how the worms' movement makes air in the soil.
c. Talk to them about food. They did not add any food to the soil, so what are the worms surviving on? Discuss with them that the worms are eating the soil and getting food from it, and that is why they are a different color from head to end -- you can see the soil moving through.
d. Discuss the castings, what they are and how together with the air, the earthworms help make good soil.
Part 4: Earthworms Make Good Soil
1. In this activity, the children will find out the how worms affect the earth's soil. What do the tunnels, air and castings do? Have the class write in their diaries what they think the effects are.
2. In groups of 5, the class will plant seedlings in the earthworms' soil and in plain soil. Each group will have one plant per soil type.
3. Take out some soil from the earthworms' jars and add it to small planters or cut up milk cartons. Do the same with the soil mixture that was set aside earlier (from Part 3, #2). Label each set of planters, Earthworm Soil and Plain Soil. Plant the seedlings in each planter and add water.
4. Care for the plants for 10 days. The children can take turns watering them daily.
5. Each day, the groups will measure the height and width of each plant with a ruler and record it on a bar chart by inch.
6. After 5 days, the class will break up into their groups for smaller discussions. What is happening? Look at the chart -- what do you see? What do the results tell us? What do you think the plants will look like in a few days? Why do you think this is happening? The teacher will conference with each group. They students will make entries in their diaries based on their discussions.
7. The children will make diary entries again at 10 days. Have a class discussion. What is happening now? What is the difference between the two sets of plants? Why do you think this is happening? What conclusions can you make about worms, soil, and plants? Analyze the graph results over the last 10 days. What do the results tell us?
Part 5: Finishing up
1. Re-read Diary of a Worm out loud. Have a class discussion. The book begins with the line "When we dig tunnels, we help take care of the earth" and ends with "But, like Mom always says, the earth never forgets we're here." How are these statements true?
2. Each child will make a diary entry about this discussion. What did you learn? How do worms take care of the earth? What do they do? What effects do their behavior have on the earth? Why would the earth be grateful and "never forget" about them?
Extension/Follow-up: School Garden:
Description of Activity
1. As an extension of this lesson, the class can plant a school garden.
2. In groups of 5, the class will replant the seedlings in the worm soil.
3. Then they will add leaves, water, and finally the worms.
4. The teacher will take pictures and create a "School Garden" bulletin board.
Home Link: The children can have the option to take home a seedling in worm soil to tend for or plant at home. They can track the progress of the plant, write and illustrate their observations, take photos and bring them to class.
Assessment: Diaries will be reviewed regularly for completeness, level of detail and comprehension of main ideas and concepts. Can the child accurately describe a worm's habitat? Can the child properly explain a worm's effect on soil? Completeness and level of detail of illustrations will also be reviewed. Teacher will also assess verbal participation during whole class discussions and active participation during activities. Teacher will also conference during the students' small group meetings to assess the their critical thinking, details of discussions, thought processes, and ability to stay on-topic.