Earthworm Investigations

Investigate how worms burrow in the ground and make tunnels.

Big Idea: Earthworms burrow in the ground for protection

Materials:

  • A large plastic soda bottle (with top part cut off) or other type of clear container
  • A piece of black construction paper
  • Rubber band
  • Scissors
  • Soil
  • Sand
  • Four or five earthworms
  • Several leaves and other types of worm food (carrot and potato peelings, leafy vegetables, etc.)
  • Several magnifying glasses
Illinois Learning Standards:
1.B Apply reading strategies to improve understanding and fluency.
4.A Listen effectively in formal and informal situations.
11.A Know and apply the concepts, principles and processes of scientific inquiry.
12.A Know and apply concepts that explain how living things function, adapt and change.
12.B Know and apply concepts that describe how living things interact with each other and with their environment.
31.A Develop a positive self-concept.
Vocabulary:
Annelid: any segmented worm, including the earthworms, leeches, and various marine forms.
Burrow: a hole or tunnel dug as a living space by a small animal or worm.

Activity Directions:

  1. Fill the container with alternating layers of sand and soil, making the top layer soil. Moisten the layers so they’re slightly damp (not wet).
  2. Place the earthworms on a tray for the children to examine using a magnifying glass.
  3. The children will make observational drawings of the worms.
  4. Place the worms on top of the soil.
  5. Add some leaves and or (carrot and potato peelings, leafy vegetables, etc.).
  6. Tape the black construction paper around the jar. Also cover the top with a circle of paper. Punch a few air holes in the paper that covers the top.
  7. Place a rubber band around the top to hold the “cover” in place.
  8. After several days, remove the cover and add a few drops of water if the soil seems dry. Also add some worm food, if needed.
  9. Wait one week and then remove the construction paper. Have the children draw what they see.
  10. Release the worms to an outdoor area where the ground is moist and warm.
  11. Check to see how long it takes for the worms to burrow into the ground.

Investigation Questions:

Q. What does a worm look like?
A. an invertebrate that has a slender, soft, cylindrical or flat body and no apparent appendages.
Q. Why do they burrow underground?
A. Protection from predators, weather and to find food
Q. How does a worm move?
A. Earthworms have bristles or setae in groups around or under their body. The bristles, paired in groups on each segment, can be moved in and out to grip the ground or the walls of a burrow
Q. Where does a worm live?
A. Earthworms live in soil

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