When I chose the subject of earthworms for this week's Barnyard Tales, I didn't anticipate that the real wigglers would be the ones on the carpet in front of me! A big crowd--18 children, several who were only two-years-old--made for lots of restlessness. That age group has short attention spans. It was a morning for more movement and singing, less stories and talking.
We began our day with All In A Day by Cynthia Rylant with Nikki McClure's gorgeous cut-paper illustrations. The little boy in the story enjoys many of the same activities we engage in at Luscher Farm following story time: feeding the chickens, making wishes with dandelions, exploring the wonders of the earth, lying in the grass looking up into the sky, digging in the dirt and, sometimes, even dodging raindrops. But not today. We welcomed our gorgeous, sunny, special spring day by singing "Morning has come, night is away, rise with the sun, and welcome the day."
With the day properly greeted, we began learning more about worms from Yucky Worms, by Vivian French, a book in our own Children's Garden collection. Grandma insists that worms are not yucky, but really our friends. We got well-acquainted with their anatomy, with their eating--and pooping--habits, and how they help plants grow by loosening the soil so roots can go way down. We learned how worms move by using their muscles. We have muscles, too, so we used them to wiggle about on the carpet like worms to the song "The Thousand Legged Worm." Actually, those "thousand-legged worms" are really centipedes. One boy wanted to be sure we looked for one in the garden. I promised.
All that worm talk woke Henrietta up and she asked to tell the kids the story of her foolish friend and the Golden Worm. I said, "O.K., but only if you change the ending." Henrietta agreed that her friend would rather gobble up the Golden Worm at the end. After all, we'd just learned that a worm's life is dangerous. Birds like to eat them. And worms are one of Henrietta's favorite snack foods!! Now doesn't that sound yucky? !!
I had more stories in mind, but the kids were finished. As one little girl said, "Kids need to play."
The chickens loved the oatmeal, chard leaves and broccoli flowers we dropped off on our way to the Children's Garden. But we didn't linger. We had other friends to feed. The worms in the Children's Garden worm bin. We fed them banana peels, an apple core, tops of strawberries, fruit and vegetable peelings, purple cabbage leaves, asparagus stems and egg shells. A yummy treat topped with shredded newspaper. I'd brought in some worms and castings from my worm bin at home and we discovered tons of baby worms, little, tiny threads probably just hatched, as well and some nice, big juicy worms to hold and touch and examine.
On this beautiful day, children dug for treasures in the dirt, ran in the tall grass (that is until we realized we were disturbing the wetlands environment), had their pictures taken "driving" the tractor. And I kept my promise and found a centipede under the bale of straw along with worms, slugs, pill bugs, and beetles. The centipede didn't like the light and quickly ran away to hide. But we saw him for a few seconds.
Our first book of the day told us, "Live it well, make it count, fill it up with you. The day's all yours, it's waiting now....see what you can do." And we did!!