Catching Katie, the Canadian Nightcrawler!

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SWBAT identify and diagram the parts of a worm by observing a night crawler.

Big Idea

Young children often know of worms, but have never really touched one. This lesson gives them the opportunity to enjoy them up close.


5 minutes

We start where we left off in last lesson:

I had asked this question: While still seated on the floor, I extend the lesson by asking the kids to think about different things that worms might do. How could they be helpful? Can they be good for something? Does something need them for food?

Using the the chart created by the answers the kids generated about worms, I review with them what they said that worms do and how they are helpful. This gets their focus on worms. I don't correct any of the information, I just get them thinking about worms. This gets them thinking about their first experience with worms, red worms.


10 minutes

We continue to sit on the floor and I tell the kids that I have a different kind of worm for them to get to know today. I ask them if we should go over the ideas and expectations that they listed for the last exploration in case they want to add or change anything on their list. This keeps that accountability for designing and implementing an experiment on the students while you assist with supporting the kids in their efforts to act as scientists.

The kids in my class begin learning early on in the year that learning is an expectation and a responsibility, it's not an option. In January they begin to slowly take on the role of designer of scientific exploration. I have them start with simply coming up with rules, expectations and procedures. I move into designing experiences based on questions.

Once we have gone over the poster from the last lesson, I tell the kids that the worms that have come to visit us today are different from the red worms. I tell them that they are called, "Canadian Night Crawlers." I ask them what they would like to know about these worms and I add the questions to the poster.

I ask them again if they need to add anything to their poster now that they have listed a set of questions. They decide to add, "Turn off the lights and watch them with flashlights." They decided on this because the worms are called night crawlers and they want to know if it's better to watch them in a dark room with a flashlight. Go with whatever your class decides. You want the experience to be unique to your students' ideas.

Still seated on the floor, I read the questions the kids generated for this experience:

  • Do all worms look alike?
  • Are the Canadian Night Crawlers the same color as the red worms?
  • Are the Canadian Night Crawlers slimy?
  • Should we watch them in the dark with a flashlight? Will they behave differently if we do?
  • Do we need to keep them wet like the red worms?
  • Do they live in dirt?

As we go over the questions, I pause and ask the kids to share their thinking about each question with their floor partner.

Now we are ready to begin exploring and observing for the answers to our questions.


10 minutes

As the kids stay seated on the floor, I place a worm on a laminated piece of construction paper on each table. As I do this, I remind the kids about respecting the animals and the expectations of how we treat them:

  • Keep hands in laps until we are ready to begin.
  • Never touch the worms with dry hands. It can hurt them.
  • Table leaders spray the worms with water only when you're asked.
  • Be gentle! If the worm starts to get off the table, call for the teacher.

Once each table has a worm, I call one table at a time to sit with their hands in their laps. I have the helper of the day hand out magnifying glasses. I then ask the kids to begin observing the magnifying glasses.

I have one mini flashlight for each table that I keep in my supply cabinet. I give the table leader at each table one and show them how to turn it on. At the end of the observation time I tell them to turn them on and I have them observe the worms "in the dark." We spend the last three minutes of our observation time in the dark.

I have the kids talk to each other at their tables throughout the experience to make sure they are generating and sharing thoughts about their observations. They are also encouraged to ask questions of each other. This helps develop evidence based discussions.


5 minutes

I collect the worms and supplies and put everything away. I call the kids back to the floor by table names.

Using the diagram from the last lesson, I ask the kids to identify the parts of the worm we just observed. I ask them if they saw the same body parts.

We review the names of the parts on the diagrams and note that while the worms are larger than the red worms, they have the same parts and behave the same way.

I ask the kids if they think the worms behave any differently when watching them with a flashlight in the dark. They noted that they do not behave differently. I ask why that might be. The kids tell me because they don't have eyes so they wouldn't know if it was dark or not.

One child asks why they are called night crawlers then. I asked how they think we could find out. Several kids suggest that we use the internet.

I Google, "Why are some worms called night crawlers?" I look up a website with night crawler facts. I share what I read and learn and answer any more questions the have.



5 minutes

The extension is a very quick. I simply talk to the kids about how there are many, many types of worms.

If I have an ActivBoard or a Smartboard, I show the kids an image search for worms. I want them to understand that when we use the word worms, it can mean many different types of worms.


10 minutes

To evaluate this lesson, I have the kids again label a diagram just like we did in the previous lesson. The only difference is that I make the image of the worm larger for this lesson than the last to emphasize the size difference between the red worm and the Canadian Night Crawler.

I have them glue the diagram onto the next open page in their science journal.

I roam the room as the kids work to answer any questions they may have and to support them in labeling the diagram correctly.

When all the kids are finished, we gather back on the floor and I randomly choose four kids to share their work and talk about it by pulling names from a name stick jar.

This brings closure to our lesson and discussion. The kids are encouraged to ask the presenters about their work.


5 minutes

The elaboration for this lesson is a take home reader about Canadian night crawlers. We practice reading it together then with our floor partners. I go over the challenge words with them before we read it together:




The rest of the words are either easy to sound out or they are sight words or have been learned before.

I have the helper of the day pass them out to the kids. We read it three times:

  1. I read, they follow
  2. We read together
  3. They take turns reading it to their floor partner

I have the helper of the day collect them back and I place them in their homework folders to read to their parents at home.