April 28, 2013
by Andrea Mills
As part of our PYP Unit, How the World Works, we are exploring how each season affects people, animal, and plant life. A rainy spring morning provided the perfect opportunity to observe ways wet weather impact worms. In previous Waldkinder sessions, the children noticed there was less snow. After wondering all winter what was happening underneath the snow, we finally had a chance to find out. A group of children found some worms near puddles on the path to the forest. We all enjoyed observing, carefully handling the wiggly creatures and worms became the focus of many conversations as well as integrated into play.
Another teacher thoughtfully remembered our interest in worms and shared one of her favorite stories, ‘Yucky Worms’ written by Vivian French. The story allowed the children to build on their knowledge of worms and to generate more questions; Why do worms like it when it’s wet? Why are worms slimy? Some children were particularly interested in the ways worms help soil to become healthier. These questions came from the children and as the teacher, I was able to help make connections about ways springtime, warm and wet weather affect the ways worms live. We shared a beautiful, wet morning with our friends in EY2 Yellow making discoveries about the worms. The children’s interest didn’t end in the forest. Even back in the classroom, worms continued to be a topic of interest. Some children created a community of “worm families” from clay.
It was serendipitous that the children’s natural interest in the worms supported our inquiry into the impact of weather although not surprising. Time spent in nature enables children to develop a sense of wonder in an authentic and beautiful environment. We often find that the outdoors is the ideal setting for child-driven questions with abundant opportunity for children to find answers in a multi-sensory, independent way.
The Worm Inquiry also enabled children to demonstrate and develop some Learner Profile attributes.
Knowledgeable: Children expanded their understanding of worms and weather. Through their own observations, the worm story and discussions with teachers/ peers, we built our understandings of characteristics of worms as well as the impact of wet weather.
Risk Taker: Some children were initially squeamish about picking up slimy worms. The teachers reassured children it was alright to just observe. Still, it was clear several children felt proud when they took a risk and chose to handle the worms.
Principled: We talked about how it’s alright to handle the worms carefully for observation but that it is important to return them to their home safely. Naturally, some children wanted to bring the worms back into the classroom and others reminded them of our discussions about what worms need as well as how important they are for making healthy soil. Many children took the principled action and returned the worms to the soil.