Conducting Wormy Races

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SWBAT conduct an investigation designed by the class to find out which worm is the fastest.

Big Idea

The kids are giving the opportunity to be real scientists and follow through with an experiment they designed!


10 minutes

To begin this lesson, I call the kids one table at a time to sit on the floor like scientists. This means that they are sitting with their hands in their lap, quiet and ready to listen and learn. 


We begin by reviewing what we’ve already learned about worms. I then bring out the experiment procedure poster that we made in the last lesson, Planning wormy races. We go over each step listed on the poster. 


We do this for two reasons:

  • to get the kids thinking about what we will be doing today
  • to remember the expectations, rules and procedures that we agreed on in the planning lesson


15 minutes

The kids remain seated on the floor as I demonstrate how to make the race boards.


I then call one table leader at a time to come up and get a tub of supplies:

  • one small ball of red yarn
  • one roll of scotch tape
  • one small 8.5x11 white board
  • snack bag of salad mix, green leaf lettuce


I tell the kids that they are expected to work together to make the race board. Everyone at the table is expected to participate. I roam around the room and assist as needed. 


I have them take charge of the experiment and figure out how to work together on their own because they will need to develop this skill as they get older. This lesson is done after January in my room so most of the groups do a great job figuring it out and working together. When I encounter a table that struggles too much with delegating jobs and figuring out how to get everyone to participate, I then assign specific jobs. This year I didn’t have to do that for any of the table groups. They took on the task with enthusiasm and they all worked out who will do what when making the board and racing the worms.


Once all the tables have a completed race board, I go over the rules for having worms at the table one more time:

  • Only look at the worms with your eyes, if you need your worm picked up raise your hand
  • Work quietly so you don’t scare the worms (I say this to control the volume and behavior)
  • Observe the worms and record which worm is the winner, the small red worm or the large Canadian nightcrawler
  • When your worms are finished racing, raise your hand so I can safely put your worms back in their soil tubs


I deliver the worms and the kids work to race their worms on their own. I roam to help out only when needed, usually runaway worm rescue. 



10 minutes

When all the tables have finished racing their worms and recorded which worm won their race, I gather the worms back into their soil tubs and have the kids clean up. My helper of the day collects the supply tubs and returns them to the back of the room. 


After clean up is complete, I call one table team at a time to come back to the floor. I ask the kids to remember which one of their worms won the race. 


I ask the kids to turn to their floor partner and share their experience with worm races. I do this even though they all had a similar experience, they all internalized it differently so they can learn from each other. As I listened to the conversations,I heard one student tell another student that she saw that the Canadian Nightcrawler was able to stretch longer each time it moved than the red worm so he won. Another student told his partner that their worm must have been hungry because he “ran” to the salad at the end of the track. 


After the kids have shared with their partners I call on each of the table leaders to share with the whole class about their racing experience. I record their thoughts on chart paper as they share. The other table members are encouraged to jump in to add any details they may feel are important that the table leader doesn't mention.


10 minutes

The evaluation is done in the science journals. I call the table leaders up to get the journals for everyone who sits at their table. I then excuse the kids one team at a time to go to their tables and write about the worm races. 


The journal entries must include:

  • four or more sentences
  • a detailed drawing
  • facts from the experiment


I roam the room as the kids work. I ask the kids questions that require more than a yes or no answer:

  • Why do you think ____________ won the race?
  • What did you learn about racing worms today?
  • Is there anything you would do differently if you were to race worms again?
  • Do you think the race board was adequate or would you change it?
  • How would you make working with your table team better? Is there anything you would want to do differently?

I do this to assess the level of understanding the kids gained from the experience. I am checking to see if the kids connected to the worm racing or the design-conduct connection. Kids who refer to the procedure poster or talk about the expectations versus the worms in general are the ones who have a concept of the design-conduct connection. 


When all the kids are finished with their journal entries, I have them gather back on the floor with their journals and share their work with their floor partner. I then go over our table observations one more time with the kids to close the lesson.



5 minutes

To elaborate on this lesson, I tie it to reading. I prepare a take home reader about worm races for the kids to read to their parents at home. It is appropriate for independent reading in January of kindergarten.

I have them practice reading the word, "worm" throughout this lesson so they are ready to take it on at home using the reader. 

The reader is prepared the week before this lesson, copied and stapled. The kids spend a couple of minutes taking turns reading it to their floor partners before taking it home to their families. It is not intended to be a cold read.

Once they have practiced reading it, I collect them and place them in the homework folder to send home.