Soil and Worm Composting
Soil Science and Worm Composting
Students will explore and investigate worms and their role in composting by using internet resources.
Students can take information from various sources to create their own composting bins using worms at home.
Created by: Julie Newton
Huntington Beach City School District
An internet connected computer, a printer, pencil, paper or notebook, magnifying glass, and your imagination.
You may want to have your own compost bag (see materials and directions below) with worms to study.
Other materials will be needed if you want to create your own compost bin at home with your family.
A good scientist always keeps an orgnized record of his or her findings and thoughts. Get a spiral notebook or other kind of note pad to record what you learn while doing these activities. Be sure to record the date and time at the top of each entry. You can make and decorate a cover for it too.
Activity 1: The anatomy of a worm.
Just like we have names for the different parts of our body so does a worm.
Draw a worm in your notebook and label all the parts you know. For example where is the worm's head.
After you draw your picture and include the parts click here to explore the parts of a worm's body with Herman.
Eddie the Earthworm can show you his parts, too.
Make another drawing below your first one and label it according to what you just learned.
Activity 2: Worm vocabulary.
In this activity you are going to make your own wordsearch.
Visit the worm glossary to find 10 words to use in your wordsearch. After you find your words, write them down and use the BACK arrow to return to this page.
Click here to make your wordsearch.
Print it out when you are done and give it to a friend.
Make your own list of worm words for each letter of the alphabet.
Activity 3: How does a worm move?
Imagine you are a worm. What would that be like?
In your notebook write as many adjectives as you can that decribe how a worm moves.
After you write your story click here to learn about how a worm moves using its muscles.
Activity 4: The compost pile and what a worm eats.
Worms have a special job. They are called decomposers. They eat fruits, vegetables, leaves, grass and other natural things that rot and break down in soil. Any fruits, vegetables, bread pieces, or garden clippings are great food for worms in a compost bin, Meat, cheese, and other things with animal products are will make your compost bin smelly. There are many places your can explore on the internet to find out what worms like to eat.
To learn more about what to feed your worms visit the Worm Deli.
Don't forget to play the Worm Deli Game. How many stars did you earn?
Here are more ideas about what to include in a compost pile.
Want to know what not to include. Here is a list of things to leave out.
Activity 5: My day as a worm.
Now that you are a worm expert on worms click below to write a fun story about life a worm.
Activity 6: Show what you know.
Test your skills on Cornell Composting's interactive quiz.
Activity 7: Make your own compost bag to study.
Collect your materials
a medium sized Ziploc style bag
a hole punch
1 cup of damp soil (you can take it out of your home flowerbed)
some food that a worm would like (see Worm Deli for ideas)
3-5 worms (you can get them from your flowerbed or buy them at a bait store with mom or dad's help)
Observe your materials
Use your magnifying glass to look at your soil.
Draw a picture and color it to show what you see right now.
Do the same thing with your worm food.
How does the soil feel? Record your ideas in your notebook.
Assemble your compost bag
punch 4-6 holes in the top half of your Ziploc (near the zipper)
fill the bottom of the bag with the damp soil
add worm food
carefully transfer worms into your compost bag
close zipper on bag carefully
Maintain your compost bag
Keep the soil moist (not wet) with aged water (water you let sit out in an open container overnight from the faucet to get rid of the chlorine).
Store your bag in a cool, dark place.
Observe your worms at work
Watch the worm food in your bag and write in your notebook about what is happening.
Include drawings as well as writing about what you are seeing.
After 3-4 weeks you will notice major changes in the worm food.
Remove some of the soil and look at it with a magnifying glass. Record what you notice.
Compare your drawings now to the ones you made a the beginning of your study.
Write about what you notice.
How does the soil feel now? Record your ideas in your notebook.
Activity 8: Make a compost bin at home.
There are lots of sites that will show you how to make your own compost bin at home. Explore these sites with your family at home and find one that you like. Happy composting!
Best Ever Compost
Activity 9: Congratulations! You're a certified wormologist! Click on Herman to print out your certificate
A Few Internet Resources:
Sheppard's Science Resources
Sheppard's Useful Links
Created August 10, 2001
Last Revised August 16, 2001
Suggested Grade Level: 2
Science Content Standards
California Science-Grade 2-Earth Sciences -3c
California Science-Grade 2-Investigation and Experimentation -4a, 4c, 4d, 4f, 4g
Several areas of California Reading - Language Arts Grade 2 standards covered as well.
S.C.O.R.E. Lessons Standards Search by Grade and Subject
S.C.O.R.E. Standards and Framework
California Content Standards Grades K-12
California Content Standards Grades K-12 - Science - PDF Format
This Webquest was designed to be used with the STC Soils module, another classroom composting project and as a stand alone lesson. If you are teaching composting, your students may already have access to a composting bag or bin for hands-on study. If not it would be helpful to have some worms on-hand for exploration and observation (they are readily available at bait stores and through many retail resources on the web).
Students need basic computer and internet skills to use this Webquest. A great resource for how to teach children the basics of the internet is at enchantedlearning.com
Effective use of internet
Content-area reading for information
Following multiple-step directions
Students can be assessed in many areas.
Science notebook (writing, drawings, science notes)
My Day as a Worm story
Vocabulary based wordsearch
Content-area reading and comprehension
Multiple interactive quizzes
Hands-on science exploration and experimentation (if you have worms for students to use)
Oral presentation of My Day as a Worm story
Build a compost bin at home and maintain it (resources are listed on student page)
Set up a school-wide composting project
Have students be involved in implementing a project in the cafeteria.
Investigate other ways of composting (other than vermicomposting)
Activities from Worms Eat Our Garbage by Mary Appelhof
Hands-on science exploration and experimentation of compost remains and worm castings
Other commercial resources to extend the curriculum