Home Science: How to Make a Worm Farm

Kids Get to Dig Deep and Make Soil

Introduction

Taking a walk in the woods with other home-schoolers last Friday was both fun and productive. The children enjoyed their time discovering the forest surrounding the home of the Hands-On Science program leader, and collected critters. The critters collected included worms, salamanders, and a spring peeper frog. The frog and salamanders were set free after the children studied them under a magnifying glass and drew a picture of them.

The children also collected the ingredients they would need to make a worm farm in a jar. The pictures to the right illustrate the process for filling the jar once you arrive home with all of the needed natural resources.

Supplies

You and your young scientist can make your own worm farm with a few simple household supplies:

wax paper

knife or pen to poke air holes

rubber band

glass jar

soil

newspaper (not glossy)

fern branches and pine needles

fallen leaves

live worms


The Steps to Creating Your Own Worm Farm

The steps below describe the entire process for creating your worm farm. The pictures on the right illustrate the process of assembling your worm farm once you arrive home with all of the supplies that you found in the woods.

Step #1: Have ready the jar, wax paper, and rubber bands on a table.

Step 2: Bring with you on your walk a bucket of gardening trowels (one for each child involved), some plastic containers with air holes, and plastic sandwich bags to fill with fallen leaves. A separate plastic bag should be used for collecting the fern fronds and pine needles.

Step 3: Wear clothing appropriate for the weather. We walked on a damp day, so we wore boots and rain jackets.

Step 4: Walk through the woods and collect the worms (under rocks and logs), fallen leaves, fern, and pine needs. Make sure there is ample time for children to also discover other features on the forest floor, such as mushrooms with varying shapes, jelly fungus, a natural jungle gym, or an abandoned fort.

Step 5: When you return home, assemble your worm farm:

A. Scoop in the bottom layer of soil for the worms to burrow through.

B. Tear up newspaper (non-glossy) into shreds and place a layer on top of the soil. This is their bedding. It helps the worms keep breathing.

C. On top of the paper you will place the fern and pine needles (green layer).

D. The next layer up will be the fallen leaves (brown layer)

E. The final, top layer will be an extra layer of soil.

F. Now you have completed a new home for your worms and it is time to introduce them to it. Each child should have 3 or 4 worms.

Step 6: Place a square of wax paper over the top of the jar and secure it with a rubber band.

Step 7: Poke air holes in the wax paper with a pen.

Step 8: Keep your worm farm in a cool, dark place in your home and keep the ingredients inside moist by sprinkling the farm with water every other day or so. If the adults in your family drink coffee, the grounds are great to give the worms to eat.

Make Your Own Worm Farm:

Step #1: Dig for dirt and collect worms.
Step #1: Dig for dirt and collect worms. | Source
Steps 2 and 3: Scoop in a bottom layer of soil and shred paper into pieces to place on top of the soil.
Steps 2 and 3: Scoop in a bottom layer of soil and shred paper into pieces to place on top of the soil. | Source
Step # 4: Add green layer of fern and  pine needles.
Step # 4: Add green layer of fern and pine needles. | Source
Step 5: Place a layer of fallen leaves over the fern and pine needles.
Step 5: Place a layer of fallen leaves over the fern and pine needles. | Source
Step 6: Place a top layer of soil, then add the worms.
Step 6: Place a top layer of soil, then add the worms. | Source
Close-up of a complete worm farm jar waiting for its cover.
Close-up of a complete worm farm jar waiting for its cover. | Source
Step 7 is the final step - cover the jar with wax paper using a rubber band and poke air holes in the top.
Step 7 is the final step - cover the jar with wax paper using a rubber band and poke air holes in the top. | Source
Diagram and report written in home-schooling science journal.
Diagram and report written in home-schooling science journal. | Source

Learn how worms can help you with your gardening ~

The Worm Book: The Complete Guide to Gardening and Composting with Worms
The Worm Book: The Complete Guide to Gardening and Composting with Worms

This is a highly recommended book on web sites that explain how to compost.

 

A Note about Composting

The worms will eat the paper and leaves that you give them. Keeping them moist will keep them alive. In return for your care and feeding, they will give you their castings , which is a type of nutrient-rich soil that will make all of your plants grow strong and healthy. The excess water will be turned into "worm tea" or "worm soup," which is also good for your plants.

If you or your children enjoy maintaining your worm farm, and have some basement space or a mud room, you may want to eventually graduate to keeping more worms in a bin. Worms procreate, so they will provide you with the babies to feed and fill up the plastic or rubber bin that you use. The more castings they generate, the more nutrient-rich soil you will have to put in a veggie garden or fruit tree bed.

In effect, you are composting with these worms. You can feed the worms bits of eggshell, coffee grounds, lettuce, and carrot peels for food, too. Watch carefully and have fun!

Yum! Worms eat our leftovers ~

Worms Eat My Garbage: How to Set Up and Maintain a Worm Composting System
Worms Eat My Garbage: How to Set Up and Maintain a Worm Composting System

Child-friendly and fun book for motivating older students to try worm composting.

 

© 2011 Karen Szklany Gault

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Comments 6 comments

oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 4 years ago from The Midwest, USA

I like the idea of making a worm farm! That is really cool. Thank you so much for sharing. My son would want to use them for fishing! I think they are great for the garden. Win win all around. :)


Seafarer Mama profile image

Seafarer Mama 4 years ago from New England Author

Hi Oceansunsets,

Yes...worms seem to reproduce so quickly that there will be lots of squirmy critters to go around for both you and your son to use as you wish :0) Enjoy!


kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 4 years ago from the Ether

Voted up, useful, and awesome! Super icky but super cool idea. I might try this with my daughter sometime soon. I can't stand worms but I think I can brave it. Thanks for the idea!


Seafarer Mama profile image

Seafarer Mama 4 years ago from New England Author

Thanks for taking the time to read and for voting up, Kitty, even though worms aren't your favorite creatures. :0) Glad you like the idea, and that you have a chance to do this with your daughter. How does she feel about worms?


Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Oh boy this is cool. My boy (3) and I just decided last night to make one next week. Fun Fun Fun


Seafarer Mama profile image

Seafarer Mama 3 years ago from New England Author

Thank you so much, Eric! Hope you both have lots of "down and dirty" fun! ~:0)

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    Seafarer Mama profile image

    Karen Szklany Gault (Seafarer Mama)265 Followers
    127 Articles

    Seafarer Mama/Karen has loved gardening since she began getting her hands dirty beside her grandmother at the tender age of 3 or 4.



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