Weekly Wrap-Up # 10: The One with the Suicidal Earthworms

NOTE: To get right to our worm woes, scroll down to the picture of the worried worm below.

In terms of my writing this week, I penned a new article for Celebrate Kids that will appear in this coming Tuesday's email newsletter. And I also wrote:
  • My Budding Storytellers, which is really the girls' post because in it I share their first (really creative!) narrations using our new language arts curriculum; and
In other news:
  • The girls had their first piano lesson in over a month on Tuesday. And - though they'd practiced regularly in the week beforehand - our July "piano practice hiatus" really showed! Thankfully, their teacher is quite gracious, but I'm looking forward to getting them back on their regular weekly lesson schedule in September because that keeps us on our toes in terms of practice;
  • They had their last summer swimming lessons on Wednesday, and will now take a three-week break before fall lessons start up. Abigail made good progress in the latest session and is "this close" to passing the Fish level. Rachel wowed maybe even her teacher by passing from the Flying Fish to Shark level in just three weeks' time! A year ago last June, both were complete non-swimmers, and now - amazingly - we're deciding when to have them join the swim team;
  • We were blessed on Thursday when our insurance company, American Family, accepted without any reluctance our claim for some ceiling repair in our living room. It won't be pretty to have a six-by-eight corner of the room gutted, but this summer's continual, drenching downpours have exacerbated a small leak we've never found the source of - to the point that it's beginning to cause major damage. So better to catch it now than to wait even longer;
  • On Friday, I spent a good deal of time laminating almost anything that was flat and less than 9-by-12 inches! And, as part of that little obsession, I "tweaked" our home education organizational tools, the workbox system and Our Do-It Door. Mostly, that meant just making tags for new subject areas and replacing old tags that have gotten a little scruffy-looking over the past 18 months. But I also decided to replace the original workbox number strips with a number grid I affixed to each girl's desk. This is a sample of what it will look like for Rachel on a typical Wednesday once our fall activities get going. For several reasons, I think this will better meet our needs now.



All of that out of the way, I'm sure you're more than ready to hear about the suicidal earthworms that surely led you to this post in the first place!

Well, as I've mentioned before, our core curriculum this year, My Father's World: Exploring Countries and Cultures, has us studying world geography and cultures and - along with that - the various biomes around the world. In the first two weeks of the program - which I've stretched out to three to make it more manageable for us - we've spent considerable time building our foundation for further studies by learning a bunch of geographical and ecological concepts and terms.

And this week we read, among other things, about niches. But we didn't just read; no, one beauty (among many) with MFW is the inclusion of hands-on activities across the curriculum. So this week we were supposed to set up an earthworm environment in a jar and observe them every day to hypothesize about an earthworm's niche.

As a science aficionado and one-time veterinarian wannabe, it sounded like fun to me! I made sure we had the necessary supplies - soil, sand, oatmeal, jars - and then trekked over to Wal-Mart last Sunday afternoon to get our worms in preparation for Monday's set up. Now, the girls were - uh - shall we say "less than enthusiastic" about actually touching the worms to get them into their new little habitats...

But, once the little squirmies were secured, they got excited to see what would happen over the next few days.

Of course, we expected to observe the little darlings burrowing into the soil, eating as they went, and, thus, mixing the layers we'd set up.

But what happened instead is best described by my new bloggy friend at R.A.M...Random Access Me-ness, a fellow home-educating MFW-ECC mom who had her own earthworm problems a week ago and penned this perfect poem upon hearing of our worms' predicament:

Ode to the Worms

You lay on the soil,
so wiggly and brown.
You lay on the soil
and balked at burrowing down.
You lay on the soil,
day after day.
You just laid there on the soil,
till we had to throw you away.

Yep! The worms did nothing! One day after laying them on the soil's surface, they were still bunched up on the top. They weren't dead and actually responded quite actively when we prodded them a bit - but they'd clearly made no attempt to show us their niche.

Jeff thought they might need to be covered up in order to remember their job - made sense to me! - so he gently poured in another layer of soil. But wouldn't you know: that's when the worms apparently lost all will to live because, instead of digging down, they burrowed up! Yes, every last one of 'em made their way to the top of the soil, wiggled around quite a bit and gave us hope...but then stayed there overnight...and killed themselves.


A few of our experiments last year fizzled, too. But that's a real part of science at any level so it's okay; it's all part of the learning process.

Next week, though, one hands-on activity will find us making a "world cake" just for fun. And here's hoping it doesn't fall flat in the oven. After all, worms with a death-wish are one thing...but I don't think we could stomach a suicidal sweet!


Kimberly said...

Last year in ECC we used worms from our garden. They didn't lay on top of the soil but they didn't have nice tunnels either. We ended up throwing them out and not seeing their niche.

Sheri said...

That is something-suicidal worms. Guess a visit to a worm farm is better for that heh? LOL

I love your daughter's expression in that one pic-totally what mine would be!

Mrs Random said...

I didn't mention that my kids had *named* the worms and that my boy was in tears when I announced their demise. He wanted to hold a full-out funeral for them and paint a garden path stone as a memorial stone for them.

We got our worms at petsmart. I think the time in the fridge at the stores must have done something to their little worm brain clusters.

Isabel said...

Our worm stories do sound the same. My husband did the same as yours, covering them a bit, and a few did burrow deeper. But for the most part they huddled together on top and turned moldy and SO smelly. Ugh. Your cake will be yummy, I'm sure :)

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