Watching Worms

This outdoor/indoor activity follows worm and soil exploration and can be completed in one week. Use it after Exploring Worms and in conjunction with Worm Worksheet .

Through observation, students learn how an earthworm processes and aids the loosening and mixing of soil.

Materials and Preparation

  • Jelly or peanut butter jars with covers or plastic wrap covering the tops (with air holes).
  • A variety of moist soil types (detritus, loam, clay, silt, sand, etc.). If different soils are not available from exploration area, teacher must supply various soil types obtained from nurseries, garden centers, etc.
  • Bowls or buckets
  • Spoons or scoops
  • Earthworms
  • Paper along with brown, gray, and black crayons
  • Materials for sketching and note taking

    Outdoor Procedure
    In their area of worm discovery, students:
    1. Collect and place differing 1" to 2" moist soil layers and some leaves in containers. Students may experiment and choose their own layers, or put the darkest, heaviest soil (loam) on the bottom, and the lightest soil (sand) on top. Soil may be loose, but layers must be distinct.
    2. Draw a picture of the variously colored soil layers before adding worms. Place one worm in each container, cover with a lid or plastic wrap (do not forget the air holes!).
    Indoor Procedure
    1. Store containers with worms in a dark, cool place.
    2. In a day or two, observe the containers. Have the layers of soil mixed at all? Draw the layers of color again and any color stripes you see.
    3. In two more days, observe again. What do the layers look like now? Draw and color their appearances.
    4. Finally, compare your worm and its soil with other worms in class. Record what has happened to other soil and other worms.
    5. Last but not least: After your final observation day and after you complete the Worm Worksheet , remember to return the worms to their original habitat.
    Discussion Questions
    1. 1. How have worms helped to mix the soil?
    2. Do you think worms ingest and digest the soil?
    3. Can you see any clear funnels?
    4. If the layers were filled with different nutrients and minerals, would worm activity help plant growth?
    5. Why are worms good for soil and plants?
    Record your answers in Computer Journals.