This lesson can be used as an extension piece in learning about the environment and how to recycle leftover school food. This introductory lesson will be the student’s first introduction to worms. Students will be observing a specific type of worm called Red Wigglers. These worms will be used throughout the year to break down leftover food scraps.
This lesson is specifically designed for special education students. With that in mind, instruct students how to observe worms and to not touch the worm until told to do so. Also provide rubber gloves (the kind from hospitals) if your student has sensory issues.
Each student will be given one worm on a piece of paper and a magnifying glass. Visuals will be provided to aid non-verbal students. Students will first observe the worm. Is it crawling? Is it coiled up? What does it look like? Teachers should read about worms beforehand to be prepared for questions, such as: “Is it a baby snake?” and “Is that yellow stuff pee?”
Worm Facts (to help with students observations)
- A worm has no arms, legs or eyes.
- Even though worms don't have eyes, they can sense light, especially at their anterior. They move away from light and will become paralyzed if exposed to light for too long (approximately one hour).
- Earthworms have the ability to replace or replicate lost segments. This ability varies greatly depending on the species of worm you have, the amount of damage to the worm and where it is cut. It may be easy for a worm to replace a lost tail, but may be very difficult or impossible to replace a lost head if things are not just right.
- If a worm's skin dries out, it will die.
- Worms tunnel deeply in the soil and bring subsoil closer to the surface mixing it with the topsoil. Slime, a secretion of earthworms, contains nitrogen. Nitrogen is an important nutrient for plants. The sticky slime helps to hold clusters of soil particles together in formations called aggregates.
- Worms live where there is food, moisture, oxygen and a favorable temperature. If they don’t have these things, they go somewhere else.
- Worms can eat their weight each day.
- Worms are hermaphrodites. Each worm has both male and female organs. Worms mate by joining their clitella (swollen area near the head of a mature worm) and exchanging sperm. Then each worm forms an egg capsule in its clitellum.
- Baby worms are not born. They hatch from cocoons smaller than a grain of rice.
- There are approximately 2,700 different kinds of earthworms.
- In one acre of land, there can be more than a million earthworms.
- The largest earthworm ever found was in South Africa and measured 22 feet from its nose to the tip of its tail.
- Worms are cold-blooded animals.