Ebinport Elementary School kindergartners spent Thursday morning in their outdoor classroom with some of the school garden’s hardest-working volunteers – their earthworms.
For the third year in a row, garden coordinator Kelly Sebastian guided kindergarten students as each released a worm into the garden.
From garden seed to cafeteria table, the students learn to make connections to the foods they eat, said Sebastian, who works with classroom teachers to create garden programming that supports curriculum in science, math, history and other subjects.
A mix of night crawlers and red worms – many from a local bait shop – arrived at the school Monday, got a quick bath from the students, and spent the next three days in the kindergarten classrooms before being released into the garden.
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The worms will aerate the garden soil and consume and digest organic materials to produce vermicastings – the kindergarteners prefer the term “worm poop” – rich in nutrients and beneficial microorganisms.
Kindergarten teacher Stacy Bailey and assistant teacher Amanda Shumpert joined their class in the garden for the earthworm release.
For the most part, Bailey said, the hands-on addition to the science curriculum was a hit with students as they explored the biology and benefits of the five-hearted, skin-breathing, nearly brainless organisms.
Two of Bailey’s students, Judah Linehard and Zoey Elliott, worked together to find a good spot for a night crawler named Katie. Along with the other worms in the garden, Katie will have important work to do.
“They make our plants grow,” Judah said. “When they make their tunnels, the roots grow really high. They eat the stuff from the soil.”
Earthworm day is “very exciting” for Sebastian.
“They have these earthworms that they’ve studied in the classroom and they’re hanging around the garden,” she said. “Some of the kids love it, and some of them are kind of scared.
“They just get to find their perfect spot for their personal earthworm.”