Friday, October 12, 2012

Building an Earthworm Home

Directions on how to make an Earthworm Jar for observing tunneling:

Making a worm jar is a great activity in getting your kids to practice their observation skills!  They become invested in these little annelids and can't wait to see what they do! The jar is easy to make, and you can use worms you find yourself, or that you buy at a bait shop!

Kindergarten Unit on Worms: Literacy, math, food, science, art, and handwriting:

This is the second article I'm sharing in a series about a kindergarten worm unit that I part of with Andrea at No Doubt Learning and Erin at Usual Mayhem. I'm focusing on the science experiments of the unit, with Andrea and Erin have created all kinds of great literacy, handwriting, and geography connections in relation to our extensive worm unit. My first Introduction to Worms article focused on the first encounter your child may have with worms, getting them to think about what they are seeing compared with what they thought they'd see.

Materials to Make a Worm Home

You may already have all the materials you need to make a magnificent home for your worms!

Materials Needed for making a Quality Worm Jar:

To make a earthworm home, gather the following materials:

  • Large glass jar with wide mouth (no lid necessary)
  • Pebbles or sand for bottom of jar
  • Smaller jar that fits inside larger one (needs lid) and filled with water
  • Soil: Mixture of "real" soil, potting soil & sand
  • Gardening shovel (or plastic cup)
  • Worm food
  • Sand: optional for layering to see how soil is churned by worms
  • Spray bottle with water
  • Funnel
  • Worms
  • Knee-high pantyhose and rubber band

Directions to Make a Worm Home

1)  Place pebbles or sand at the bottom of the large jar to help stabilize the inner jar. Our large jar was a bulk glass jar that held an insane number of olives, and our inner jar was a regular sized spaghetti glass jar, but  Spell Out Loud used plastic 2 liters for the larger jar and smaller plastic water bottles for the inner jar.  Use what you have...that's what I say!

Two jars used in Worm Home, to keep worms to the outside:

2)  Fill the inner jar with water and place centered inside the larger jar. This smaller jar keeps the worms from congregating in the center of the jar, increasing your odds of being able to observe them tunneling!

Arial View of Worm Jar, with smaller jar on the inside to keep worms to the outside:

3) Using the funnel, scoop soil mixture into the jar, approximately 1/4 the way up the jar. 

Boy pouring sand into Worm jar:

4)  Using the funnel, scoop sand into the jar, so that it makes a thin bright colored line. The purpose of the sand layer is not only for aerating the soil, but also for observations purposes. Over time, your child should be able to see that the sand layer changes as the worms churn the soil!

Boy spraying water in worm jar:

5) Using the spray bottle, give the soil a few squirts of water. If your soil is already moist, you may want to skip this step. 

Worm Food: NOT meat: We added oatmeal and apples:

6)  Drop in some worm food. This could by any vegetation, kitchen scraps, but not meat! We added a mixture of apples and oatmeal.

Adding Worms to the worm jar:

7)  Then add 3-5 worms. You may decide to go on a night-time worm hunt, or you can buy your worms at a bait shop. We did a combination of both! 

Store bought worms for a worm jar:

Earthworm in boy's hand:

8)  Repeat steps 3-7.

9) Use a single nylon knee-high hose to cover the jar and secure with a rubber band. This allows air to circulate, but keeps the worms from crawling out of the jar.

10) Tape a layer of newspaper or black paper over the jar to ensure no light bothers your new pe(s)ts.

11) Place the worm farm, in a cool dark place. We choose a cool closet.

Boy holding newly-made worm jar:

Keep the jar in a cool, dark location, only observing it when absolutely necessary. We have been taking a peek at it each morning, taking note of the number of worms we see, the number of new tunnels, how much food is at the top and any other cool wormy observations we notice.

Worm Jar Observation Journal

Worm Jar Observation Journal:
I have put together a simple Worm Jar Observation Journal, that has a similar set up to the Wormy Scientific Notebook I introduced in my first post. These pages are designed to be printed back-to-back to make a smaller notebook, ideal for including in a lapbook, composition notebook, or just for the sole reason of saving paper (and trees).

  • Place for drawing of jar; as well as a list of the steps of how the jar was constructed
  • Several pages for daily (every other day) observations to record number of worms visible, number of worm tunnels, soil churning, amount of food added and other misc. observations
  • "Wormy Conclusions"encourage your child to think about what they would do differently if they were to design another worm home and to what they might say to a friend who thinks that worms aren't important.   

Worm Home Building Resources

There is a wonderful video from Learn, Grow, Bloom about how to put together a worm jar. 

This article "Explore Earth Science and Make a Worm Hotel" from is also very helpful.  

This is a post that is part of a series of Worm Unit posts geared to kindergartners. If you like this one, you might enjoy the others.

And don't forget to go see what cool worm ideas Andrea over at No Doubt Learning, and Erin at The Usual Mayhem are doing this week!

My Button   Photobucket

Next week I'll be sharing two worm experiments (Do Worms Prefer Light or Dark and Do Worms Smell?) as well as the wonderful and wormy literacy stuff we've been doing (particularly handwriting). Stay tuned. 

So what's the reaction in your house to worms? Cool? or Ewwww!!!! 


  1. Replies
    1. If its gross and we can let it sit around the house a while to observe it, we do it! :)

  2. Beautiful idea! I just wanted to caution that all worms are not alike. The worms that you find in your backyard soil do not feed on kitchen scraps. The proper worms for this set up would be Eisenia fetida and Lumbricus rubellus, if you buy "Red wigglers," you will have the right type. I hope you have fun and interesting observations!

  3. We did this in class today and the students loved it! What suggestions do you have for care and maintenance? How much water should we add, and how often? How often should we add food? And how long did you keep your worms in their jar home before setting them loose into your garden?

    1. So glad you class enjoyed the worm jar. Moisture is critical, so keep that water moist. They won't drown, so with a sprayer, spray every other day or so. As far as food goes, twice a week. I would keep them in the jar only several weeks before letting them go. Enjoy!


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