Kid's Guide


RURAL IOWA WASTE MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION

Butler County Solid Waste Commission

25251 Hwy 3, P.O. Box 121, Allison, IA 50602

Hamilton County Solid Waste Commission

2605 McMurray Avenue, P.O. Box 128, Webster City, IA 50595

Hardin County Solid Waste Commission

20488 M Avenue, P.O. Box 425, Eldora, IA 50627

Wright County Solid Waste Commission

2251 O’Brien Avenue, P.O. Box 173, Clarion, IA 50525

Program adopted from the University of Illinois Extension

History

When you dig in your garden and find worms, you probably think that I have always been here in America. Actually, early European settlers brought me over to North America during the 1600's and 1700's. Many travelers back then would bring plants with them from their country. I tagged along in the soil around the roots of these plants.

A lot of people think that all foreign insects, weeds and animals are bad. I'll bet you can think of several that are very common harmful pests such as Japanese Beetle, gypsy moth and the Asian long-horned beetle. These were all brought in and soon became very harmful to plants we grow in our gardens. What damage do these insects cause?

As an imported foreign animal, I am a little different though. f I hadn't been brought over your soils and gardens would be very poor. If I did have any ancestors in this country before I was brought over they were probably wiped out during the last Ice Age 10,000 to 50,000 years ago.

What other things can you think of that were brought to America by the immigrants?

What's the first thing you think of when you hear the word fossil? Dinosaur, right? A fossil is the remains, trace or imprint of a plant or animal that has been preserved in the earth's crust since some past geologic time. Well, there is fossil evidence for members of my family that belong to the phylum annelid that you will learn about in my family tree. There are the thousands of worm-like animals that have segments.

The problem with our fossils is that we are all soft-bodied and have no bones. Our fossils are not easy to find and recognize as are the fossil bones of dinosaurs. Existing fossil annelids date back 500 million years ago. Some scientists now say that they may have found that some of my relatives might have lived on earth more than a billion years ago.

The problem is that scientists haven't found fossils of the worms themselves but trace fossils. These are tunnels in rocks that may be burrows that were formed when the worms wriggled through the sand. Scientists have found these in India. Not everybody agrees because some think these tunnels were made in other ways.

My Family Tree

Biologists have a way of classifying everything. By classifying, you put things into groups that have similar characteristics. This is sorting which is like the science of taxonomy. Taxonomy (pronounced tacks-on-o-me) is like building a family tree. Another way to look at it is like a pyramid.

The further down the pyramid you go, the more of us there are in each division or block. We are all related, but there are body parts (which you'll learn about) that either make us the same or different from our cousins down the pyramid.

Kingdom is the starting point.

Under kingdom, you are either a plant (plant kingdom) or an animal (animal kingdom).

Because I don't have much in common with my plant friends, I am classified as an animal, along with you.

Moving on down the line, you'll see that I belong to the phylum Annelid. A phylum is a smaller group than kingdom but bigger than the next division called a class.

There are about 9,000 different worm-like animals that call themselves annelids. What we have in common is we all have very well developed segments (individual sections). The bodies of annelids are long and rounded with bristles or hairs.

Some of my annelid relatives have lobes or bumps on their segments, eyes and feelers.

Then annelids are broken down into three major classes. I belong to the class Oligochaeti and there are about 3,100 of us. As you can see, a class is smaller than a phylum (there were 9,000 of us in the phylum).

So what makes us different from the rest of the classes? Well, we Oligochaeti have fewer setae (hairs or bristles) on our segments and our bodies are really made for burrowing and digging. We don't have any eyes or feelers.

The name Oligochaeti means "few hairs

The group of worms that belong to Order Opisthopora are identified by having one pair of pores that are small openings located behind where the segments of a worm come together. Now, as a budding young wormologist, this is a very technical point and one that only those scientists with years of experience would need to know about. This shows you how technical the process of separating different types of worms from one another can be.

As a family member, I belong to the Lambricihae family.

Among one of our unique characteristics is the fact that you won't find our clitellum start to show up until you count 18 or more segments from our tail. A real picky point when you get down to it, but this is just one way we are separated from the other segmented worms.

The real important part of the classification system and the part that means the most to us as worms and you as young scientists is the last two divisions: Genus and Species.

The genus is made up of a group of individuals who are all closely related. My genus name is like your last name. Members of your family (brother, sister, father, mother) usually have the same last name because you are related very closely.

My genus name is Eisenia.

The second part of my name is the species. Members of the same genus can and do have different species names because there is just a small difference that makes them unique. Kind of like members of your family. You all have the same last name but your first names are different.

My species name is fetida.

So when you put my genus and species name together, you get Eisenia fetida. Or as my friends call me—red worm, red wiggler, manure worm or fish worm.

I'm the worm that really likes living in worm bins. My cousin, Lumbricus (genus) terrestris (species), or earthworm really would rather live outdoors in your garden. We'll talk about him later on when you go to the section on making a worm bin.

Now that you know my family tree, let's see how your family tree is like mine!

You have a family tree just like mine. We are both a part of the animal kingdom, but that's all we have in common.

When most people talk about family trees, they mean the tree of people who make up their families.

How far back can you go in your family tree? Have an adult in your family help you fill out this family tree.

My Anatomy

I don't really have a head like yours. But I do have a head end, the fancy word is anterior. Please remember that it is really different from the tail end, called the posterior. Just imagine how you would feel if someone said they could not tell the difference between your head and rear end (it's so embarrassing, and I get a little sensitive about that).

My Body

If you get a chance to feel me (hey

worms need affection, too) you

should notice that I am a little bit wet

or slimy. It doesn't mean I need a

shower, my skin is supposed to feel

like that. I need moisture to survive.

You will also notice that I do not

have bones or arms, or legs, or eyes,

or teeth (no one nags me about brushing or flossing). I just feel sort of squishy.

If you look at my body under a magnifying glass, you will see a lot of little rings across my entire body looks kind of like corduroy or a lot of rings connected together. These rings are called segments. When I am all grown up, I will have 120-170 segments. On the first segment is my mouth and on the last segment is my anus—sort of like the beginning and the end. If you had a microscope and looked really, really closely at each segment, you will see something that looks like a bunch of small hairs or bristles. (And I'll bet you thought worms were bald.) These bristles are called setae (pronounced see-tee) and they help me move. I have four pairs of these

When I am a few weeks old you will notice a light-colored band forming near my front end. This is my clitellum. My clitellum will someday help to form cocoons. New baby worms will hatch from the cocoons and I will have a family.

My Digestive System

At the very tip of my head (that's the anterior, remember), you will see a flap of skin that hangs over my mouth. It is called the prostomium. It keeps stuff I don't like from getting into my mouth. (Yeah, some things are even gross for worms). It is kind of like your upper lip. (Wanna kiss, baby?) Right under the prostomium is my mouth—you know what that's for. I have a pretty big mouth for a worm. It's big enough to grab a leaf and drag it around.

My mouth is very small. So I can only eat very tiny things like bacteria, fungi and protozoa which you couldn't see unless you are looking through a microscope. I also eat organic matter like plants (mmmm, salad) and decaying animals. I guess that sounds sort of yucky, but you humans eat dead animals and birds too.

Sometimes the bits of food are too big for my mouth, so I moisten them to make them soft and suck them right into my mouth (Don't try this at home, human parents tend not to like this.)

Since I have no teeth, I cannot really chew my food like you do. I do have something inside of me close to my mouth called a gizzard. You might have heard this word before because birds, including chickens and turkeys, have a gizzard almost like mine. As I eat my food some grains of sand and soil get into my gizzard. These grains of sand and soil push against each other, mix with moisture and grind the food

into tiny pieces

(kind of like

my own

personal food

processor).

When the food

leaves my

gizzard, it goes

into my

intestine. The

food is

dissolved there

and absorbed into my blood. Then it

is carried to all parts of my body to

keep me strong, healthy and slimy.

My Circulatory System

Guess what? I have five hearts! All

of these hearts pump blood through

my blood vessels just like your one heart.

How I Breath

Have you ever wondered how I

breathe without a nose or

lungs? You breathe through

your lungs. Your lungs take in

oxygen and give off carbon

dioxide.

Worms do not have lungs but I

breathe through my skin. I take

in oxygen through my skin and

it goes right into my

bloodstream. My skin must stay wet in order for the oxygen to pass through it, but if I am in too much water I will drown. Just keep me damp, moist and slimy. Although if the water has lots of air in it, I can stay under for a long time.

My Reproduction System

I already told you about my clitellum, that whitish band near my anterior (head) end. It forms when I am about 4 to 6 weeks old. It has both male and female reproductive organs (That means I am neither a boy or girl, I am both.)

When mating, another worm and I join together with heads pointing in opposite directions. Sperm is passed from one worm to the other and stored in sacs. Then a cocoon forms on each of us on our clitellum. As we back out of the narrowing cocoons, eggs and sperm are deposited in the cocoon.

After we back out, the cocoon closes and fertilization takes place. The cocoons are much smaller than a grain of rice and are yellow-colored. Each cocoon can have 1-5 worms. If conditions are not right

My babies will hatch in 2-3 weeks. The new baby worms are whitish, and you can practically see through them (but I think they are beautiful, just like any parent). My babies are only 1/2 to one inch long. They are on their own as soon as they are born. In about six weeks, they will produce their own baby worms. I'll be a grandparent and the cycle starts all over again.

I can tell the difference between light and dark pretty good for someone who does not have eyes. I have cells in the front part of my body that are sensitive to light. This is called light sensitivity.

how fast you would go if you had to slide around on your tummy.

I use some of my muscles and my setae (bristles, remember). My setae act like the brakes on a car, helping me to slow down or stop. I have muscles that go in circles around my body and other muscles that run the length of my body.

Actually, I'm pretty well-built, if I do say so myself. When my circular muscles tighten up, my body becomes thinner and longer. I sort of look like two birds are pulling me from each end.

(Now that's a scary thought. Let me take a minute to calm myself down....whew! Now where were we ... oh, yeah, moving right along.)

This movement by my circular muscles squeezes my front end forward. My other long muscles squeeze together and help move the rear end of my body towards the front end. So this is how I move forwards and backwards. Pretty slick.

Now you have seen all the parts of my beautiful slimy body. Do you know them?

Come Live With Me

My room (worm bin) is where I spend most of my time along with my friends and family. Worm bins come is all shapes and sizes. Worm bins can be made from wood or plastic.

You can buy commercially made worm bins, but you will pay anywhere from $50-$100. The easiest or least expensive way to go is to buy a 10 gallon plastic bin. Plastic bins cost about $5-$7 each. Often, you will find them on sale.

Worms need about one square foot of surface for each pound of garbage added to the bin each week.

Plastic bins are light and easy to move. They will hold moisture. You will need to drill holes into them to allow air for the worms. It is pretty easy to put my room together.

You will need the following:

drill

razor blade

liquid nails, caulking gun or duct tape

a plastic 10 gallon bin

fiberglass window screening

an adult to help

Drill six to eight 3/4" holes in the lid that are evenly spaced.

Cut out 2-inch square sections of screening.

Have your Mom, Dad, or an adult friend use the razor to scrape the area around the holes. This helps the liquid nails to stick to the plastic better.

Apply an even strip of liquid nails around the hole. Lay the 2" x 2" screen on top of the liquid nails and press down lightly. If you use liquid nails, let dry for 24 hours.

You could also tape the edges of the screening down with duct tape.

You can put holes in the bottom for drainage. If you do, you should place some type of tray under the bin to catch liquids and screening over the holes to prevent my friends and me from escaping.

Adding the Bedding

Now that you've got my room made, you need to fill it with the stuff I love and need. The first thing I need is bedding.

To figure out how much I need, you need to know the volume of my bin in cubic feet.

This is how you're going to measure the cubic feet of bin space. First, measure the depth, width and length of my bin in inches. Then multiply the depth by width by length to get the cubic inches in my bin.

For example, let's say the bin is 8 inches deep, 24 inches wide and 24 inches long. That's 4,608 cubic inches. You got this answer by multiplying depth (8 inches) by width (24 inches) by length (24 inches). Now we need to convert it to find out how many cubic feet are in my box. A cubic foot is 1 foot deep by 1 foot wide by 1 foot long. There are 12 inches in a foot.

So take 12 inches x 12 inches x 12 inches to get 1,728 cubic inches in a cubic foot.

So how many cubic feet are in a bin that is 4,608 cubic inches? Divide the cubic inches in the bin by the cubic inches in a cubic foot to get the answer.

4,608 ¸ 1,728 = 2.67 cubic feet

Let's try a few more problems:

How many cubic feet are in a bin that is 1 foot deep by 2 feet wide by 3 feet long?

a.
16 cubic feet
b.
12 cubic feet
c.
6 cubic feet How many cubic feet are in a bin that is 8 inches deep by 2 feet wide by 3 feet long?
a.
8 cubic feet
b.
4 cubic feet
c.
5 cubic feet

How many cubic feet are in a bin that is 8 inches deep by 30 inches wide by 18 inches long?

a.
4.6 cubic feet
b.
3.2 cubic feet
c.
2.5 cubic feet

Now that you know how to measure the volume of my bin, you need to figure out how much bedding to add.

I will need 3 pounds of newspaper for every cubic foot of space. So multiply the number of cubic feet in the bin by 3 and that's how many pounds of paper you'll need.

Let's try a couple of problems.

Try this problem. How much paper would you need for a bin that has 2.67 cubic feet of space?

a.
10.2 pounds
b.
5.67 pounds

c. 8.01 pounds Try another problem. How much paper would you need for a bin that has 4 cubic feet of space?

a.
1 pound
b.
8 pounds
c.
12 pounds

Another way to find out how much bedding I need is by knowing the size of your container in gallons (usually on the label).

You can take that number and multiply by

0.4 pounds of paper and that will tell you how many pounds of paper you need to fill your container.

Now that you have torn up the paper, put it in a plastic garbage bag.

Adding the Water

The next thing you need to add is water. The newspaper must be moist like a wrung out sponge. I need the moisture to breathe or else I'll be on my way to worm heaven.

Add water slowly. Mix while pouring the water into the bedding. Keep mixing until the bedding is as wet as a wrung out sponge.

To know how much water you will need, follow this simple formula. For every one pound of newspaper, you'll need 3 pounds of water.

Have you heard that a pint is a pound the world round? It's true. So for every one pound of newspaper, you need three pints of water. So take the number of pounds of shredded newspaper and multiply it times 3, and that will tell you the number of pints of water you need to add to your shredded paper.

If your container is 10 gallons in size, how much paper would you need?

a.
40 pounds
b.
4 pounds
c.
8 pounds

The easiest and most available bedding is newspaper. Most newspaper is okay except for paper with those fancy glossy ads. They sometimes contain material that can make me really sick. Now for the fun part. Get a bunch of your friends together. You will need to tear the newspaper into

one inch wide strips, putting them into a large plastic garbage bag. It takes a lot of paper to fill a bin. To make sure you understand how to do this, let's try a sample problem. If you have 5 pounds of shredded paper, and you want to add 3 pints of water for every pound, how many pints of water do you need to add?

a.
30 pints
b.
15 pints
c.
42 pints

The next day, open the bag and put all the paper in the bin and fluff it up.

Next add a handful or two of soil to the bedding and mix it in.

A lot of my friends live in the soil and will help me and my family decompose the food you give us.

The soil also helps me to digest food. When food moves through my gizzard, the grit helps to sort and grind it up.

Now that you've finished building my room, you can add me and the rest of my worm friends and family.

So why do you need red worms for my bin? Why can't you just use plain old nightcrawlers from the garden? Red worms are better for indoor worm bins because they are more at home in the small space and warmer temperatures of the worm bin. They also reproduce faster than the earthworm.

The big earthworm you see in the garden is not very happy in a small bin. They like the wide open spaces of a garden to live in. They also don't like the high temperature in small worm bins. They like it cool, very cool, like 50 degrees cool. One other things is they don't like to have their burrows disturbed. When you add food and start to scratch around in the bin, it upsets them. So, even though earthworms are not very good for your bin, they are very good for your garden. It's where they are happiest. I normally come to you in a box from a worm farm.

Take me and the other worms out of the box and spread us out over the paper

in our new bin. It's fun to watch us

disappear into the bedding.

Now comes the part I like the best— FOOD! I spend most of my time eating and believe it or not I love vegetables and fruits.

I love potato peelings, carrots, lettuce,

cabbage, celery, apple peelings, banana

peels, orange rinds, and grapefruit. I also

like cornmeal, oatmeal, crushed eggshells, coffee grounds with the filter, and tea bags.

One thousand (one pound) of my friends and relatives will eat about one half to one pound of food scraps each day.

Chopping these foods up will make it easier for me to eat them. You might want to keep a plastic tub in your refrigerator to hold food scraps so they will be nice and fresh for me. Don't let them rot and be smelly.

Do not feed me any meat, dairy products (cheese, butter) or oily foods. They can attract Felix the Fruit Fly to the neighborhood, plus these foods will rot and smell.

When you do feed me, be sure to bury the food in the worm bin 34 inches under my bedding. You might want to mark the spot where you feed me with a straw or pencil. This helps to make sure that you will continually feed all my relatives in all parts of the bin.

If you just lay the food on top of the bedding, it will attract Felix

the Fruit Fly. At first, you may have to feed me once a week. At the end of the week check and see if my friends and relatives have eaten everything. As our numbers increase, you may need to feed us more often.

Now that you know how to feed me, I'm going to give you a few tips on how to keep all my friends and relatives happy.

Check bedding every week to see that it's not too dry or wet. Remember it should feel like a wrung-out sponge. If it's too dry, add water. If it's too wet, add more bedding. Also check to see if food is being eaten and decomposing. Check for odors. Odors may tell us that there is rotting food; if so, remove the extra food.

Place a sheet of plastic or a layer of newspapers over the top of the bedding. This will hold moisture in and will help reduce the chance of fruit flies.

Use a plastic garden fork rather than a trowel to bury food; a fork is less likely to injure us worms.

Check the areas where you buried food every week. Decide what foods your worms like and dislike. Also check for cocoons of young worms. They look like very, very yellowish jelly beans.

After six weeks you will start to see changes in your bedding. The bedding will

become darker and will decrease in volume. As the bin becomes filled with worm castings (poop), worms will die. How sad! So you will need to add additional bedding if you choose not to harvest us.

Remember I like temperatures from 55-75 degrees and do best at room temperature.

Now I'm going to give you the straight scoop on redecorating my room (harvesting!) There are a number of ways to harvest the castings from my room (bin). A fun method of harvesting or collecting castings is what I like to call the Lighted Pile Method. It's really easy to do and a lot of fun, but you'll need some space to do this.

Lay a large heavy plastic sheet on the floor.

Dump the contents of the worm bin on the plastic sheet and divide it into 8-10 piles.

Shine a

flashlight on the

top of each pile.

Since worms are

sensitive to light,

they will go down into the pile to avoid the light. You will need

to remove a little bit of the castings at a time until all you have is just a pile of worms.

This may take a while depending on how bright your flashlight is. Have a friend hold a light on the pile during the entire process. Notice how the worms crawl away from the light down into the pile. Why?

Continue to do this until you are left with just a pile of worms.

Another method of harvesting is called the Divide and Sort Method. When the bedding in my room (bin) is so shallow that it isn't deep enough to bury food scraps, it's a good time to add more bedding to my room.

First you move all of the old bedding over to one side of the bin.

Fill the other side with fresh bedding (newspaper) and prepare it like you did before. Bury the food scraps only in the fresh bedding.

Eventually, most of the worms will move from old bedding into the new bedding. Harvest the castings. There may be a

few worms still in the castings, but that's okay.

This harvesting method can be done every 3-4 months. I bet you wish your parents would let you go that long without cleaning your room.

If you stop feeding me and do not change my bedding, we will continue to eat any remaining food and bedding until there is nothing left except castings. The castings are toxic to worms, and we cannot live in them. After 3-4 months of doing nothing, you will be left with a bin of castings and no live worms.

The castings can be mixed with potting soil for your house plants as well as being a source of some nutrients for your plants.

My Neighborhood

Now that you know how to care for me, let's take a closer look at my neighborhood.

Watch out for Celia Centipede.

Guess what her favorite meal is. ME!!!!

She has lots of legs and is very fast moving. Sound the alarm if you see her. She may move fast, but I can get a head start. Just think if she had to tie shoes on all her feet.

Bart Bacteria is very, very, very, very tiny. If a million bacteria laid side by side, they would stretch to a length of one meter or 39.37 inches.

Some bacteria are shaped like little hot dogs and some are round. They love to eat the organic materials (fruits & vegetables) in the worm bin.

Bart and his relatives give the castings that earthy smell.

Flora Fungi is a plant-like organism, but she does not have any chlorophyll (gives plants their green color) or roots or leaves.

You might know her better as a mold or a mushroom. You might find Flora in a fuzzy white form on plants and soil that have been watered too much. There are about 1.5 million types of fungi in the world today. Flora's everywhere! Ernie Enchytraeids is a worm about 1/4 to one inch long. Sometimes Ernie and his family get mistaken for me, because when we are young we look alike.

Ernie loves to eat decomposing plants. Don't you like lettuce that is brown and slimy? It doesn't even need salad dressing.

Ida Isopod is easy to recognize in my neighborhood. She likes to roll up in a ball which makes her real popular at recess. Ida looks like a tiny armadillo.

Ida is gray in color and about 1/2 inch long. Ida's family is related to lobsters and other crustaceans. Ida has gills sort of like a fish.

She really likes eating leaf litter. So, you might stick a few leaves into the bin for her.

There are lots of Mickey Mites in the worm bins. They are very hard to see. Mickey looks like a little dot and has eight legs and a round body. He loves to eat moldy mold and leaves. He also eats bacteria and fungi! Watch out Bart and Flora!

Milly Millipede is one of my best buds.

Milly is about 1/2 inch long and brown with a hard outer shell. She likes to roll up in a ball just like Ida Isopod. She has lots of legs, too.

She loves to eat leaves. Wish all my neighbors were vegetarians like her.

Sara Springtail is the little kid on the block at only 1/16 of an inch long. She and the hundreds of members of her family are very light colored and easy to see in the bedding. How would you like that many brothers and sisters?

Sara loves to jump around wherever she goes. She can't fly, because she is wingless. She uses a prong under her tummy to spring her forward like a built-in pogo stick.

Springtails live in soils all over the world from very warm climates to very cold climates.

Worms What Are They Good For?

I'll bet you think that the earthworm is only good for fishbait. Well, think again. The earthworm is

one of nature's top soil scientists. The earthworm is responsible for a lot of the things that help make

our soil good enough to grow healthy plants and provide us

food.

Worms help to increase the amount of air and water that gets into the soil. They break down organic matter, like leaves and grass into things that plants can use. When they eat, they leave behind castings that are a very valuable type of fertilizer.

Earthworms are like free farm help. They help to turn the soil—bringing down organic matter from the top and mixing it with the soil below. Another interesting job that the worm has is that of making fertilizer. If there are 500,000 worms living in an acre of soil, they could make 50 tons of castings. That's like lining up 100,000 one pound coffee cans filled with castings. These same 500,000 worms burrowing into an acre of soil can create a drainage system equal to 2,000 feet of 6-inch pipe. Pretty amazing for just a little old worm, don't you think?

Having worms around in your garden is a real good sign that you have a healthy soil.

Worm Facts

  • An earthworm can grow only so long. A well-fed adult will depend on what kind of worm it is, how many segments it has, how old it is and how well fed it is. An Lumbricus terrestris will be from 90-300 millimeters long.
  • A worm has no arms, legs or eyes.
  • There are approximately 2,700 different kinds of earthworms.
  • Worms live where there is food, moisture, oxygen and a favorable temperature. If they don’t have these things, they go somewhere else.
  • 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 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.
  • Charles Darwin spent 39 years studying earthworms more than 100 years ago.
  • Worms are cold-blooded animals.
  • Worms can grow a new tail, but not grow a new head if they are cut off.
  • Baby worms are not born. They hatch from cocoons smaller than a grain of rice.
  • The Australian Gippsland Earthworm grows to 12 feet long and can weigh 1-1/2 pounds.
  • Even though worms don’t have eyes, they can sense light, especially at their anterior (front end). They move away from light and will become paralyzed if exposed to light for too long (approximately one hour).
  • If a worm’s skin dries out, it will die.
  • 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.
  • Worms can eat their weight each day.

Color Me Herman

You know I don't have to be brown. What color would you like me to be?

Herman’s Spring Adventure

Here's your chance to write your own Herman story! Fill in the blanks and then click the button to create Herman's Spring Adventure. It was a sunny Spring day and the grass was especially Herman was really

and was thinking about

. He noticed a few puddles in the And then he saw lots of his cousins who were Herman got very

when he saw Mr. Jones coming with a

.

But while he was squirmin towards the garden he saw a

. His luck had turned. He was trembling with

when he decided to go underground.

Once he got underground he found
And he thought it's time for lunch. He found and .
For dessert he had .
He then and began to dream about .
Oh, Herman thought, another .
Your name:

Worm Words

How many words can you come up with that relate to Herman and worms. Can you think of 26 different words that start with a different letter? You can use a dictionary if you like.

A

N B

O C

P D

Q E

R F

S

G

T

H

U I

V J

W K

X L

Y M

Z

Quick Quiz

What is the scientific name for Herman and other worms?

a.
Aramadillidum vulgari
b.
Ronus wolfordi
c.
Eisenia fetida

What Kingdom does Herman belong to?

a.
Plant
b.
Animal
c.
Magic

What do you call the saddle section on Herman’s body?

a.
Clitellum
b.
Segment
c.
Crop

What part of the body does Herman use to grind up food?

a.
Gizzard
b.
Setae
c.
Mount

Worm Links

Here are some of my favorite places on the World Wide Web. By clicking on these links you will be leaving my website. Be sure to bookmark this page or use your browser's BACK button to come back.

Worm World http://www.yucky.com/worm/Travel through Wendell the Worm's World. Learn about worms as recycling, worm body parts, worm fun, and view the worm art gallery.

Ask the Answer Worm

http://www.nhq.nrcs.usda.gov/CCS/squirm/skworm.html

S.K. worm answers all your questions about soil and stuff.

Worm Woman

http://www.wormwoman.com/main.html

Meet the worm woman who started it all!

Worm Bin Project http://commtechlab.msu.edu/sites/letsnet/noframes/Subjects/science/B2U1.html Students will learn about decomposition and the worm's life cycle.

Mazon Creek Fossils

http://www.museum.state.il.us/exhibits/mazon_creek/index.html

Information on worm fossils in the Chicago area.

Science Museum of Minnesota Online Worm Project http://www.sci.mus.mn.us/sln/tf/w/worms/worms/worms.html See first graders at the Museum Magnet School exploring the world of worms.

Questions & Answers about Earthworms http://www.oldgrowth.org/compost/frames/wormfaq.html Get the answers to the most frequently asked questions about worms.

The Earthworm http://www.gov.ab.ca/env/fw/watch/inve/e.html Learn the lifestyles, habits and life history of the earthworm.

Leave Leftovers to Worms http://www.taunton.com/fg/features/techniques/worms/1.htm Good step-by-step guide to worm composting from Fine Gardening magazine.

Build a Worm Composting System

http://www.dnr.state.mo.us/alpd/swmp/Worm1.htm

Learn how to build a wooden worm bin.

Worm Words Glossary for Teachers http://www.cityfarmer.org/wormgloss82.html Learn the words that pertain to worms and worm composting.

The Burrow

http://gnv.fdt.net/~windle

One of the most comprehensive worm composting sites on the Web. Everything, and I mean everything, you would want to know about worms.

Plowing Through Garbage http://soundprint.org/nstw/activities/earthworm/earthworm.phtml An online curriculum from National Science and Technology Week detailing how earthworms are an important part of the soil's environment.

Let's Get Growing http://letsgetgrowing.com/ An online catalog with hundreds of environmental science and nature education products including worm bins for K-12 classrooms.

Worm Supplies http://www.cityfarmer.org/wormsupl79.html List of worm sellers in the United States and Canada

A Guide to Worm Composting http://www.ccc.govt.nz/waste/Guides/WormComposting/index.asp Tips for making and using a worm bin.

Teacher’s Guide

Students will be able to:

Know the basic vocabulary of biology: biological composition, digestion and reproduction told through a guided study of the worm.

Gain knowledge of the principles of basic scientific research and application through the creation, observation and maintenance of a worm bin.

Read critically and analytically by first viewing the biological life of the worm and creating an environment to support life.

Perform the computations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division by manipulating figures to create a worm bin.

Make and use measurements, including area and volume, to create an optimal environment to maintain and reproduce worms and create castings.

Explain the interdependence within a closed system by creating a worm bin and apply that knowledge to human systems.

Herman's Objectives

Biological and Physical Sciences

Classify familiar organisms and describe their life cycles. Use observation, classification and measurements to answer questions about soil and the earth.

Fine Arts

Describe artistic expression of self and others through interactive activities in Herman's Fun Place.

Language Arts

Apply reading strategies to create a worm bin, investigating resources on the web. Use technology to communicate by writing stories about Herman the worm.

Math

Use the appropriate operations to determine the cubic inches and feet needed to create a worm bin to accommodate the worms.

Understand the properties needed to create a 3-dimensional bin for the worms.

Social Sciences

Identify the historical events that have influenced the development of topsoil in the United States and the population and variety of worms.

Describe the family genealogy and influences on our lives, by first examining the simple history of the worm and then ourselves as individuals.

What responsibilities will I have as a teacher if I start a worm bin? Who will be responsible?

Basically the students are to be responsible for the worms, but the teacher is responsible for guiding the learning process.

The teacher is responsible for ordering the worms, getting all the necessary supplies. The teacher needs to demonstrate how to put the worm bin together. It is perfectly fine to let the students help in the process.

The teacher is responsible for overseeing the project. This teaches responsibility.

How can I make sure the kids are responsible without seeming distrustful?

The teacher's responsibility is to oversee the progress of the worm bin. Teachers aren't seen as

distrustful if there is trust established. Assuming responsibility is a gradually learned skill. By guiding the process, first by demonstration, and later through reminders and eventually sporadic monitoring, the students learn to assume responsibility of the worms gradually.

The students have a lot of responsibility. They can actually put the bin together. They will make up the bedding. They will feed the worms. Harvesting the worms will be their responsibility. Checking the bin and recording will be the student's work.

What is the time commitment for me? For the students?

You need to have time for the curriculum. It will take creativity and time to make the worm bin a part of each area of the curriculum

It will take at least 45 - 50 minutes to start the bin.

How often do we have to work on the worm bin to keep the worms alive?

Feeding will occur about once a week -- depending on the size of the bin. Assign a "feeder" and rotate the students. Use the group process -- take out things that aren't good for the worms!

We have only a window counter in the sun for the bin. Will direct sun hurt the worms?

Yes, sun will hurt the worm. There are other places to put the bin in the room -- under a desk -- inside the closet.

Make sure the location is in a place where all the students have access and the teacher can supervise.

If you don't have room for a large worm bin, make it a small one!

What happens if the students put candy (or other things) in the worm bin?

Take the candy out! There are better nutritious foods for the worm!

How could we stop the composting?

Divide up the work of the worms and distribute it to the students or put the worms and the compost in the school garden.

What do we do with the worms when we're done?

The worms can be taken out of the compost and the process can begin again, or you can simply put the entire contents in the garden.

Is there any form of recognition for the student's work?

Yes. When students have finished learning about worms, you can award them with the Certified Wormologist certificate below:

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