Make a Worm Observation Jar! This simple life science experiment is perfect for spring.

Spring always feels like a great time to get outside and dig in the dirt. It’s also a great time to learn about animals!

Did you know that every animal has a job to do? In the study of ecology, the role that an animal plays in its environment is called its niche. Worms are interesting creatures to study because they are readily available and also because kids may not naturally know what their niche is.

What in the world do worms DO? I mean, they crawl around, but how does that help anyone?

This post was originally published on April 1, 2013 and updated on February 13, 2024.

It’s fun to make a worm observation jar as a way to see what worms do for the earth.  We chose a plastic jar from what we had around the house and filled it with layers of dirt and sand.  By layering dirt and sand, you can easily see how the worms tunnel into the ground to mix the soil and make spaces for roots to grow.

Here’s a great book to go with a study of worms – Yucky Worms: Read and Wonder by Vivian French.

We read about worms, and then we got to work!

I didn’t really want the boys to dig up worms out of our own yard (the yard needs them!) so we bought a package of night crawlers in the bait section at Walmart.  The boys LOVED them.

We chose a few worms to put in the top of our observation jar.  In between our layers, we also added some leaves to add more food for the worms as the leaves decompose.

We covered the outside of the jar with black paper so that the worms would be more likely to make their tunnels at the edge where we could see them – and it worked!

After the worms sat for a day or so (the boys were dying to look!), we took off the paper and checked out the jar!

Hello, worm!

I didn’t get another picture, but now (almost 2 weeks later), the worms have visibly mixed up the dirt and sand. We added a little water along the way to make sure to keep them moist, and we’ll release them in our yard as soon as we’re done with them.

What is an earthworm’s niche?

As earthworms burrow through the dirt, they make space for plant roots to grow. They also create channels that allow oxygen and rainwater to enter the soil.

They also break down dead leaves and grasses, etc. and move dead plant material to lower layers of the soil as they eat, poop, and tunnel through the dirt.

Pretty cool, huh?

Another fun spring project is to plant a garden in a plastic tub.  We did this last year, and it made a great place for the boys to play with toy animals and Lego minifigures.


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  1. Megan @ Teaching Every Day Apr 12, 2014

    I can't wait to try this with my worm-loving daughters!

  2. John K Apr 17, 2014

    When I was a little boy wearing 'cut-off' jeans shorts & straw hat, my Aunt taught me how to fish for catfish, bream, & shellcrackers with nightcrawlers. Don't remember having the slightest problem putting them on the hook either, except for the 'frisky' ones.

  3. Christa Beery Jun 26, 2016

    Awesome idea! We love it so much we pinned it on our Science - Natural World board after finding you on Pinterest.

  4. Traci Apr 11, 2022

    Very excited to try this with my preschool class. Will do this observation after our caterpillars turn into butterflies


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