The past few days it's been all about worms over here. Our February box from The Little Naturalist Club arrived with the theme of worms and soil and it has kick started some amazing experiences and I can't express enough how beautiful these little boxes are, the booklets that come with them are truly so beautifully done, they are becoming little collectibles in our house! It also goes along beautifully with the Exploring Nature With Children curriculum which we have been doing for the last couple of years. Next week happens to be earthworm week so I thought it was the perfect time to put together a little blog post about all the worm themed activities we've been doing.
Whenever we start learning about a new subject, we usually always start with looking through books (the books we used here were Explanatorium of Nature which we use a lot and and Life Cycles: Everything from Start to Finish. Nixie loves to do some writing and to create pages that can go into one of her books, in this case it will be going into her New Forest book. She loves adding pages to it and loves showing her dad at the end of the day during our daily show and tell.
One of the very first activities we did was create our own little worm home. We went out into the garden with a jar and added some pebbles at the bottom and then a layer of soil, a layer of sand, another layer of soil and sand and ending it with a bigger layer of soil. But while doing this accidentally uncovered a hibernating bumble bee! Poor little one was shaking, I felt so bad that we traumatised her but we carefully coveted her back up with soil, I really hope she's OK. I didn't even know they hibernated and that it is only the queens that do (so next week per Nixie's request we will be spending time learning more about them)! With the worms habitat all ready it was time to find some worms and Nixie started digging and it didn't take her very long to find some although to our disappointment we didn't find any big ones. Forrest loved holding them and putting them into their home. Then we all went back inside to give them some vegetable cuttings for food and put a lid on with holes and put them into a dark cupboard. They both loved seeing them burrow down into the soil and we've already been documenting what we see each day and will be doing so for the next week or so before releasing them back out into the garden.
The next thing we did was a worm habitat experiment where you have a dry piece of paper towel in one side and a set one on the other side and you begin by placing the worms in the middle touching both sides and then leaving them for 15 min and seeing where they go, then putting them in the middle of the dry paper then the wet paper and again leaving each time for 15 min and returning to see where they went to. Nixie loves making hypotheses and always enjoys writing down her findings.
The next day we headed to the forest to have a go at worm charming. Yes worm charming, it's a real thing! You're meant to tap the ground and supposedly they come to the surface thinking its rain which is exactly what worms do! There's even a big worm charming festival/competition here in the UK every year! Nixie thought we should bring our little mini drum to help us so we did. It was a very wet day and we got caught in some very heavy showers (we weren't meant to have rain) so the ground was incredibly soaked but we had a go anyways and while I chanted she played the drum and tapped the ground, she's convinced she got one but I'm not so sure. I think you're meant to do it when the ground is dry so I think we will try it again this summer and now she wants to enter the competition, so who knows maybe that'll be something we do!
After a bit of a walk we went to one of my favourite spots for worms and she started digging for them. Unfortunately Forrest missed out as he was sound asleep attached to the boob in the wrap which was sad because he would have loved it! This time we managed to find some decent sized ones and we were able to study them a bit better. I asked her if she could tell which end was the head and if she could count the segments, we tried to see if we could hear the little setae scratching against the paper but we couldn't, maybe the forest wasn't quiet enough?!? Nixie wanted to see if she could climb up a lot and cheered her on like her number one fan and as soon as she made it to the top she was so proud of her and put her back into the soil.
When we got back home we also made little tissue paper worms that when you put water on them they wriggle and grow! I wish I could have captured Forrest's little face when he saw it for the first time, he was in awe, it was soo sweet! I always try to come up with things that they both can do and this was such a simple thing but brought so much joy to both of them, Nixie even had to go get her lab coat in the middle of it all and her goggles and science kit so she could look like a scientist.
If you would like to try making the worms all you need to do is cut a bit of tissue paper into 6x6 inch squares and wrap it loosely around a straw and the squish it down and then just add water and watch them grow!
This experiment led to them making potions by soaking the tissue paper in water and getting the dye out, her face when she discovered she could do this was priceless, she excitedly said, "it worked! It worked! It turned pink (pretending this was her plan all along) !" Then she wanted to make a purple potion so asked if I could get her some blue tissue paper.. So this little worm experiment turned into a colour mixing experiment that lasted for a couple of hours!
On another outing to the woods we dug for worms again but this time we had our little microscope with us which was a lot of fun we were determined to try to get some images of their little hairs but again we had no such luck!
We wrapped up our little worm exploration with some art, like I've said before I always try to add some creative projects into the mix. The first thing she made was a little book mark. I told her the worm was a book worm and she thought that was just the weirdest thing ever to say and told me quite clearly that books don't have worms! Ha! She makes me laugh. Her little worm ended up looking like a snake when it was finished because she was adamant that it needed a tongue. She told me that it was a worm but it turned into a snake because it had stuck her tongue out and a stag beetle and bitten it and pulled it and it transformed her into a snake. I can't argue with that! While doing this I set up forest with some paper and cut out worms so that he could have a play with a bit of glue.
If you'd like to have a go at making them they are super easy and all you need is some stock paper in whichever colours you would like to have and cut them both into whatever size of bookmark you want. Then cut out a worm shape in one of the pieces of paper.
once you've done that cut out little strips of paper or like we did strips of pressed leaves and glue them on.
Next trim the leaves or pieces of paper and glue the worm onto your other piece of card and add eyes.
We waited for it to dry and then we laminated it and cut a hole so we could add strings which became the tongue.
The last worm activity we did was painting with worms! This was purely for Forrest's benefit and I'm happy to say they both loved it actually we all joined in and had lots of fun! For this all you need to do is boil some spaghetti, add paints and let the kids dip and explore!
Lastly but not least we did try another experiment which failed miserably! We tried it 4 times and still could not get it to work! The dancing worms experiment where you soak the gummy worms in baking soda and water and then add to vinegar which is supposed to make them dance...well it didn't. we tried soaking them for two hours even and it still didn't work and we tried with one inch pieces of pasta and still no success (although the noodles did actually move, I'm wondering if the gummy worms we used were the wrong sorts?!?!). If anyone can enlighten me I would greatly appreciate it! Although it didn't stop us from having fun, a little vinegar and baking soda is never a boring thing for little ones!
Next week we start exploring everything to do with soil, Nixie is already super excited for some of the experiments we will be doing!