Nature

Let’s Play with Worms!

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Did you find worms fascinating as a child? We do! Each of our classroom takes care of their own worm-composting bin.  It is a wonderful activity for the children as they get to learn how to care for living beings, how worms are part of the food chain, and that worms are very important. A huge part of our philosophy is encouraging children to learn about and appreciate nature; and this activity does just that.

You can even try this at home.  It’s a great long-term activity that teaches responsibility and it’s very low maintenance.

How to Start your worm compost bin

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • A large tupperware bin
  • A drill or hammer and nail
  • Organic soil
  • Worms (harvest them from a friend who has a compost bin!)

We started by drilling holes into the tupperware lid so the worms can breathe. Don’t worry, they won’t crawl out of there! They like to stay nice and tucked in in the dark. One tip when you’re drilling is to put the lid on a foam core and drill it that way.

Once you have drilled the holes, the bin is ready to go! Of course, you can add some decor and dress it up.

Now all we do is add a thin layer of soil at the bottom of the bin. Next, we add the worms right on top. This is a great opportunity for the kids to check out the worms!

Finally, we add soil on top and voila! We’re ready to compost.

In terms of food, we most often feed our worms apples. That being said, you can feed them almost anything that is not citrus or meat. Good options are apples, pear, leafy greens, etc.

Make sure you cut up the food really small for the worms. When you’re ready to feed them, simply dig a hole (gently) and put the food there. If the food is buried, it helps it not become mouldy. As well, the worms prefer the dark.

Maintenance and Tips

Worms are pretty low maintenance. Check them once a week to see if they need more food. The main thing to worry about is if the soil is too dry or too wet.

If the soil is too dry (almost sand-like), it simply means they need more food! Add more juicy fruits like apples to keep them content.

If the soil is too wet, sometimes white bugs will appear. The best way to combat this is to add shredded paper to the top of the bin. This will help absorb the extra moisture.

How do you know when your worm bin is doing well? Your worms should be multiplying in numbers and the soil should have a clean earthy smell. Recently, we had one of our bins grow grass inside! This is a sign that the soil is healthy and fertile.

Harvesting

After about a year, the soil should be ready for harvesting! The soil is so rich and full of nutrients, it will make your plants that much healthier. You can take bits of the soil throughout the year when planting, and simply replenish it with new soil. Or, you can do one big harvest at the end of the year and start fresh.

For this, you’ll need another container in which to keep the worms while you’re moving the soil. It should be noted that this is a good time to multiply the bins and give away some worms to a friend who wants them 🙂

All you have to do is take out a bit of soil at a time and take the worms out of it. It’s not a big deal if a worm does end up in your soil, however. Once you’ve taken all the worms off the bin, simply restart the process with new soil.

The Pros of Composting with Worms

  • Healthy soil to use when planting!
  • A place to get rid of your produce leftovers
  • A long-term activity that teaches children:
    • How to care for other living beings
    • To appreciate nature
    • Responsibility
    • How the cycle of life works

So, will you try out a composting bin at home?

Green Apple KidsLet’s Play with Worms!
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Raising Painted Lady Butterflies

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It has become a favourite tradition at Windermere Kids to raise butterflies in the spring. This is our 3rd year in a row that we’ve raised butterflies from caterpillars and we continue to enjoy this awesome experience.

We ordered our caterpillars from Lucy’s Butterfly Farm. They sent us about 27 of them and they came in this container.

The yellow stuff you see in there is their food which contains a mix of soy flour and wheat germ and some other nutrients. Aren’t they adorable?! For the first few days, they stayed together and continued to grow. Then, we divided up their food into smaller containers and separated the caterpillars.

As you can see, we added a piece of coffee filter at the top. This helps to keep moisture away and it is also where the caterpillar will adhere to to build its chrysalis later. Now the caterpillars were ready to share with each classroom!

The children were super excited to meet their new pets. They picked out names for them and watched them crawl around. It was interesting to do this project with all of our age groups as they each got something different from it. Here you can see our older preschoolers reading ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ and learning all about metamorphosis. They were so excited to be a part of the whole process.

After a couple of days, our caterpillars were nice and fat and their containers were ready to be cleaned. The little yellow spots you see are their droppings. We cleaned them out so the caterpillars were able to reach their food. Some of the older children got to help with this also.

Once the caterpillars were ready, they attached themselves at the top of the container on the coffee filter in ‘J’ form. Then they began to build their chrysalis!

It takes a few days for this process to be completed. Once the chrysalis is completed, we transferred the coffee filter into the butterfly cage. We simply taped them to the top of the cage. And then the waiting begins!

After about a week, the first butterfly came out! We promptly kept the cages where sunlight would hit them, as the new butterflies need sun to warm up and pump their wings.

Aren’t they beautiful? The children were so excited, and they spent hours watching the butterflies fly around.

We filled cotton balls with orange Gatorade (it’s in the instructions, we promise!) and put them in the cage for them to drink. That was also really fun to watch.

After a few days of watching our butterflies, we got to release them! This was perhaps the best part for the children to experience. The butterflies need body heat to warm up so we got to hold them for a few seconds before they flew off.

This was definitely an amazing project to do and we hope we inspired you to do the same at home. It requires very little work and it is a truly wonderful way for children to learn to appreciate nature.

Green Apple KidsRaising Painted Lady Butterflies
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