Fifth Grade

Earthworm Observations


Fifth graders have been exploring ecosystems and how living things rely on one another to survive. In this lesson, they learn about worm behavior and explore how worms help our ecosystem.

Question to Explore

How do earthworms behave and what do they eat?


  • Red Wigglers
  • paper plate
  • paper towel
  • small square of black construction paper (3″x3″)
  • spray bottle with water


  1. Pass out the supplies to students
  2. Students fold the paper towel and place it on the plate.
  3. Spray the paper towel with water so it is damp
  4. Place the black piece of construction paper atop the paper towel
  5. Pass out the Red Wigglers (one per person)
  6. Students place the Red Wiggler on the center of their paper towel and observe them for about a minute or two.
  7. Record observations.
  8. Students conduct a simple experiment with multiple trials to figure out if worms prefer dry or wet areas.
  9. Next, students decide what else they would like to learn about their worm and design a “fair test.” For example, do worms prefer eating dead leaves or dirt? (you can do this experiment by filling a bucket on one side with dirt, and the other side with leaves.  Place the worms in the center and wait some time.  Then, count the number of worms on each side.


Through observing worms and their behavior, students learned that worms like dark, damp places.  They are decomposers that like to burrow into the soil and eat dead leaves and roots.  They break down all kinds of dead or decaying matter to make it usable again as soil with micronutrients for plants.

Still Curious?

Watch this educational video from the BBC: