I’m not gonna lie, it’s pretty great to have children entering the greenhouse and excitedly eying our worm bin wondering aloud, “Are we going to do something with the worms?” Now mind you, not all students are as openly eager as the younger set. The older kids ask in a more non-nonchalant manner, but I can tell many interests have been piqued by our newest additions.
We’ve been feeding our worms the scraps from my kitchen, everything I would normally put in our home compost, minus a bit of the citrus fruits and coffee grinds (we’re still working on achieving the right pH level). We are recording where, when, what and how much food we are adding. The kids are weighing, listing and monitoring everything, including temperature of both the bin and the greenhouse. It’s been amazing to say, “Okay, we added 12 ounces of potato peel, broccoli, lettuce, strawberry tops and egg shells last Wednesday. Let’s see what’s there now.” Then we remove the top layer of bedding, shredded newspaper, to reveal the fact that mostly worm castings are now occupying the space where the food scraps once were. Kids are making observations like, avocado skins and lemon peels seem to take a bit longer to be consumed, but brown rice seems to disappear almost immediately.
So, now that we’ve got the bin going, it’s time to start adding to our knowledge base of worms. A few younger classes made great collages this week. First, we completed a worksheet on basic worm anatomy. Then, students observed a worm, either in their hand, on a petri dish, or wearing gloves. Minor accommodations such as these make everyone comfortable, which easily sets the stage for learning. We then reviewed what a collage is and what my expectations were for their work. Each collage needed to include representations of a worm, bedding and food scraps, with each part appropriately labeled. The goal for the creating the collage (considered a non-threatening project by most) was to help students reinforce and review everything they have learned regarding worm anatomy and worm bin basics.
Some students got a lot more creative in how they detailed their collage by naming their worms, or adding an “early bird” or other elements that were not required. For those that are not as interested in expressing themselves in a two-dimensional format, their collages were more straightforward. Is one better than another? Of course not, all people are unique. The importance isn’t creating a cookie-cutter outcome, it’s students taking from the assignment the lessons that are given: science (worm anatomy and worm bin habitats), art (creating a collage), fine motor skill improvement (cutting, gluing and labeling), life skills (sharing materials), sequencing (completing a multi-task assignment), and decision-making. The result:
What other skills do you think students can learn from a project like this?