Monday, 16 January 2012

the wonders of worms

Worms can teach us so much - and hold a strong sense of fascination and wonder for so many of us.   I've met so many children who are intrigued by worms and who will happily spend hours searching for them, watching them and making homes for them. 

So much of my work takes place outside and it feels so special that whilst we are exploring and making things we also happen across so many other things.  We might be outside planting living willow or making dens or searching for autumn leaves - and almost always children will encounter worms - and will take time to really look and watch and chatter about them.

Worms often are some of the first creatures children can get really close with and watch - and they need time to really look and observe them.  A love of the natural world is fostered by experiencing all the wonders it has to offer - and sharing these with others.  We need real, hands-on and powerful experiences which enable us to make relationships with the world around us. 

Children might need some adult facilitation to help them look at and possibly to hold worms in ways that ensure the worm stays happy (!) - but I find children generally are fascinated and want to look and they do want to treat worms carefully.  Its often our interactions with other creatures that enable us to think about how we would like to be treated ourselves. 

I've worked with so many children, in so many different settings, where worms have played a huge part of sessions.  I've know children spend hours searching for worms, describing them in amazing detail, giving them names and really looking at their habitats.

When creating a living willow dome last year with the foundation unit at Dunkirk Primary we used dibbers to make the holes for the willow - and in the process we found so many worms.  One child spent all morning watching them, absolutely fascinated - chatting away about the names, shapes, ages and sizes of the different worms he found.  He was really interested in their homes in the ground and didn't want to go home and leave the worms.  He'd been talking about the family connections between the worms and, when home time came, without any prompting he created holes to place the worms in and whispered goodbye to them.

Other children also became fascinated in watching the soil pass through the worms.  We make compost in school and the children are so interested in how the worms enrich and create soil. 

I've known children to create birthday parties for worms - a way of giving a really valued celebration to show how much you care.  Worms can be almost any shape - and children love to see these.  Worms can be curled up small and then uncurl and become longer then you ever thought possible.

Worms will find their way back into the soil - and if you take time to watch they will disappear before your eyes as they burrow back into the ground.

I think there's such a crucial set of things to be learned from spending time with worms.  Its a vital part of connecting with the natural world around us and fosters our sense of wonder and fascination. 

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