Worms are amazing creatures, often forgotten about until they reveal themselves by meandering all over the sidewalks on rainy days. Why do they do this, many kids wonder?
I’ve heard various explanations for why worms wander when it rains, but not all of them are true. In fact, I’ve even read false facts about worms in informational text. To avoid “fake news” about worms, share a well-researched worm tale with your students.
Yucky Worms by Vivian French (from the Read and Wonder Series), dispels the myth that worms are yucky by giving worms a voice. The cover includes adorable illustrations of worms with speech bubbles saying, “We’re not yucky!” or “I’m very nice!”
Embedding informational features, such as diagrams and lists, this book tells a compelling story about a boy learning from his gardening grandma. I especially love that it directly addresses one of the most pernicious worm misconceptions out there: that a worm cut in half will regrow.
“Cutting a worm in half doesn’t hurt them, Grandma.”
Grandma shook her head. “Poor worms. Lots of people think that, but it’s not true.”Yucky Worms by Vivian French
Wriggling Worms at Work by Wendy Pfeffer is a “Let’s Read-and-Find-out Science” book. More informational than Yucky Worms, this book introduces many of the same concepts, but includes greater detail.
For example, it reinforces that worms protect themselves from predators by feeling vibrations in the soil. It also tells how worm castings cover the entrance to a worm tunnel, keeping rain out. Together, these two pieces of information counter the myth that worms emerge from the soil when it rains so they don’t drown. Because worms breath through their skin, they must stay moist. Worms can actually survive submerged in water much longer than they can survive on a sunny sidewalk.
Unfortunately, Garden Wigglers: Earthworms in Your Backyard, by Nancy Lowen counters this idea. On page six, it states, “When the soil becomes too wet, the worms are in danger of drowning. They leave their burrows and go to the surface. A slightly older title, An Earthworm’s Life by John Himmelman also explains that worm burrows fill with water when it rains, explaining that worms leave to search “for a drier place to live.”
Although scientists may have previously held some of the ideas portrayed in children’s books, according to Scientific American, they now think differently about whether worms can swim (false) or form herds (true).
By far, the best way to learn about worm behavior is to observe them close up. However, when “worm weather” prevails, you can bring the worms inside (literally) or figuratively with an engaging, scientifically-accurate worm tale.