An ongoing curiosity of our SK students within our Outdoor Classroom has been with the resident worms. With the last wave of warm weather at the end of March, we saw our excited children, once again, overturning the log stools and gathering a squirm of worms into a wheelbarrow. It is wonderful that children are free and eager to explore nature, but it is also important to teach them that we have the vital role of being great caretakers of our earth. Short-term-only captivity and catch-and-release rules are important responsibilities even for our youngest caretakers.
Here at KCS, we encourage student-led inquiry, giving students the opportunity to decide what they want to learn based on their interests. Children in the Early Learning Program cannot always verbalize what they want to learn. As their teachers, we are trained to recognize where their interests lie and to weave these interests into other parts of their curriculum. Can you imagine measuring worms? That’s what we did! Can you imagine having an indoor vermi-composter? That’s what we did! We drew and created worms, and we wrote in our journals about worms. We now know that a worm has no eyes, no teeth, and five hearts. We know that they don’t like light, that they can feel your presence through vibrations of motion and sound, and we know how to be great caretakers by providing their optimal environment and nutrition.
Cathy Nesbitt, from Cathy’s Crawly Composters, presented a workshop for our inquisitive SK students and helped them to set up their own indoor vermi-composter. The students listened attentively as Cathy’s enthusiasm, worm puppet, and actual red wigglers kept them engaged. There were worms to hold and love, jobs given out to prepare the bedding, and many curious questions to be asked and answered. What an exciting session!
We have successfully given our squirm its first organic meal with leftover snack items. We are taking respectful peeks to monitor the progress in the composter bin, and we are patiently waiting for our first harvest of castings, aka “worm poo”. This harvesting will take place in the Outdoor Classroom before school closes for the summer and will require us to separate the wigglers from the castings. The nutrient-rich castings can be added to the outdoor plants and serve as a time-release fertilizer. It will be interesting to see how many little caretakers will volunteer to harvest. Stay tuned for the next blog!
This is a timely SK project and one that we are eager to share with our KCS friends. Happy Earth Day!
Sharon Freeman RECE
SK Teacher KCS