Earthworms don’t have eyes, ears or noses, and instead of lungs, they breathe through their skin. But more than just learning some fascinating facts, bringing live earthworms into the classroom gives children an up close encounter with a gentle, harmless animal.
I recently brought earthworms to Yvonne Fisher’s classroom at Dawson Orman Education Center. After reading a story and practicing moving like earthworms during circle time, we spread out some newspaper and let them crawl across the table. The children squealed with delight as they watched the earthworms stretch and squeeze their bodies. Almost every child was willing to pet an earthworm, and most also picked one up and laughed as it tickled their hands.
Earthworms are everywhere and are very beneficial to plants. In one yard of earth, there can be thousands of earthworms! Go for a walk and hunt for them. Try digging in the dirt or lifting up rocks and leaf litter. Look on the sidewalk after a heavy rain and model good stewardship by returning them to some dirt where they can dig back underground. Most of all, let children know that they don’t have to be afraid of something just because it moves!
A word about earthworm care:
Remember that they breathe through their skin and need a damp environment; so keep a spray bottle handy, but avoid letting them “swim” in water. They can drown too! They eat dirt and decaying leaves, so if you plan on keeping them a few days, be sure to provide them with food.
- Wonderful Worms by Linda Glaser
- Garden Wigglers by Nancy Loewen
- An Earthworm’s Life by John Himmelman
- Earthworms by Claire Llewellyn and Barrie Watts