Worm centers in school libraries can be lots of science learning fun! Let me show you how easy it can be!
You can purchase worms at a fishing shop. In Texas, we can order animals from our educational service center at no cost. Maybe your area has a service like this, too, and it can save you some money.
In a clear container, place some healthy soil (I used organic potting soil from Home Depot). I used a container with a lid, more for the protection of the worms than to keep them from getting out! The students and I occasionally added “worm food” to the top of the soil.
Display your books about soil and worms on the same table. Create a posterboard for student observations. Encourage students to write or draw either what they see in the worm tank, or what they read about in a book at this center.
Add some magnifying glasses, a cup of pencils, and a box of colored pencils to your table, so that students can write and draw what they see and learn. This observation poster can be displayed to show off student learning.
You can allow students to feed the worms small pieces of: fruits, vegetables, cereals, grains, pieces of grass, leaves, pulverized eggshells, coffee grounds. Reinforce another science skill by having students complete a data chart when they add food or water to the tank.
Next time I make a worm center, I want to try putting the worms and soil into a container similar to an ant farm. The worms tended to burrow into the dark middle of the soil in this big tank. Students are willing to search for the worms for a while with the magnifying glasses. But, alas, eventually they give into temptation, pick up the tank and shake it to try to see the worms wiggle. If we had a different container, maybe we could see the worms more easily.
Can you read our observation poster? Some of the students observed, “I can’t see them,” or “They’re buried alive!” Others got creative and wrote down facts they found in the books at this center, or drew a picture of the soil layers.
Have you tried a center with a live animal in your school library? Have you had more success with a worm center than I have?