The primary reason we wanted to start a school garden is to teach children where their food should come from. In order for that food to be the healthiest it can be, the garden should be organic, that's why we are being careful about everything we put into our garden. To put things in simplest terms, if your soil isn't healthy, your plants will be susceptible to pest and disease. It has been our experience that if you have an abundant supply of worms in your dirt, it is a pretty good indicator that you have healthy soil. That is why we chose Worms as our first topic for the Fun Friday enrichment program.
Before we got our hands dirty, I started by asking the children what they knew about worms. I got answers like "they are slimy", "they are good for the garden" and "if you cut them in half they will grown into two worms." We then read Wonderful Worms by Linda Glaser. This charming book is wonderfully illustrated and the simple text perfectly describes the function of earthworms in language easily understood by even the youngest students. Then came the fun part.
We went outside and briefly discussed earthworm anatomy. I found a wonderful chart at Get Local At School - Growing Minds, a North Carolina based program that teaches children about gardening. We talked about worms being hermaphroditic, having both male and female reproductive parts. After the explanation one child commented "that must make it awkward on date night!"
|The "date night".|
The children attempted to discern the head and tail ends of the worms. One child observed as the worm was inching along the dirt that the "front end is the one in the beginning of where it's moving." They got to feel the setae of the worm (the bristles on it's body that help it move) and noticed the very long blood vessel that is supplied by the worm's five hearts. The worms that were being explored by the children came from our compost pile and it wasn't until the children were exploring them that we realized we had worms depicting several stages of life.
|One of the tiniest worms the children found.|
|One of the "big juicy" ones.|
After the children had fully explored the worms we put them into our garden beds. In the discussion we shared after the exploration children told me; "they are still slimy but it's because they are breathing through their skin" and "worm holes and tunnels make room for water and air to get to the plant roots" my favorite comment of the day had to be "they are still gross but that's okay I'm sure the mommy worms love them anyway."
There are many other helpful books on worms you can share with your children. I have included a list here of the ones Rob and I found especially helpful.
|Busy exploring worms.|