180 Days - Red Wigglers Help a Garden Grow

180 Days - Red Wigglers Help a Garden Grow

Learning about worms made preschool students wiggle, giggle and squirm.

Worms are now part of every Ottumwa preschool classroom, thanks to a lesson by Food Corps on how worms benefit the earth.

During the past two days, preschoolers learned about worms from Regan O’Hanlon, a Food Corps service member who works at ISU Extension. O’Hanlon usually talks to the district’s young students about healthy food choices but this week, she brought in the makings for worm bins and talked to students about how worms help our food grow.

O’Hanlon started her lesson by asking students what they knew about worms. “They move,” said one four-year-old.

“The live in the ground,” said another.

“Sometimes you go fishing with them,” a girl replied.

Next O’Hanlon read “Diary of a Worm.” Students learned a lot of facts about worms. “Worms keep the earth healthy,” said Jason.

After the book, it was time to get the worms out. Placing small paper plates in front of groups of students, O’Hanlon placed small piles of compost and red wigglers on each plate. Most students were apprehensive and there were even a few tears. “I’m scared of the worms,” said Javier.

The worms wiggled on the plates, some escaping to the rug below. O’Hanlon asked the students to handle the worms gently as she handed out magnifying glasses to allow students a closer look. She explained that the classroom worms will eat food scrapes that are usually thrown away, such as apple cores and banana peels. They will eat paper too. The worms turn their food into fertilizer for plants, which will be used on the new raised gardens being installed at the school.

Students then helped tear up scrapes of newspaper to put into their worm bin. “I like worms,” said Hayden. “They are very cool.”

Finally, after adding a little soil, the worms were placed into their new classroom home. “They like water but they don’t like it to be too wet or too dry,” O’Hanlon said.

The worms will now become part of the classroom learning environment as students watch paper and food scrapes become compost for their garden.