View all activities

Make a wormery

Make a wormery hero v2

Use this wormery activity to find out how important worms are for both soil and sediment health.

Ages 3+ (adult supervision)

25 minutes

Worms are hugely important on land and in the ocean. It may be tricky to do this activity using marine worms and sediment, and so this activity uses earthworms to show the principles involved. The use of different layers of soil and sand makes any mixing performed by worms more obvious. By putting food for the worms on top of the soil layers, students will be able to observe how nutrients are brought down into the soil.


There are a few preparation steps for this activity. All of these can be done with children or by an adult independently. Including children is great for learning but will extend the length of the activity. Detailed step-by-step guidance is given below.

  • Cutting the bottle - this can be done in advance as cutting into plastic bottles can be tricky for younger children, and supervising adults may wish to tape the sharp edges.
  • Gathering the soil - it is best to use soil from the area that you are collecting the worms from.
  • Gathering the worms - worms (and soil) are easier to find after wet weather, and in darker, shady places. Dig a hole in the soil or look under stones and pots.
Make a wormery diagram
Activity steps
  1. Make your wormery by cutting the top quarter of the bottle off. If you are finding it difficult to cut the bottle, try pinching it to cut a small hole, and then cut round the bottle from there.
  2. Cut a small slit in the top in the top section of the bottle (see diagram), so it can fit over the top of the bottom section.
  3. If the cut edges of the bottle are sharp and could cause injury, then tape the edges.
  4. Fill the bottom section of the bottle with layers of soil and sand, with each layer between 2cm and 3cm.
  5. If the soil or sand is dry, spray each layer with water as it is put in.
  6. Leave about 5cm between the top of the layers and the top of the bottom section of the bottle.
  7. Add four worms to the top of the soil.
  8. Add food for the worms on top. This can include (dead) leaves, grass, or vegetable peelings (potato and carrots are good, citrus peel or onions are not to be used).
  9. Place the top on, and then cover the bottle with the black paper.
  10. Put your wormery in a cool, dark place, such as a cupboard, and observe it daily, removing the black paper to see what the worms have been up to.
  11. Release the worms back into the habitat you found them after a week.
Safety guidance
  • Make sure that children wash their hands thoroughly after handling soil or worms
  • Filling the bottles with soil and sand can get messy. Either do this outside or cover surfaces in a dust sheet or newspaper.
  • Children should wear gloves for collecting soil and worms.
  • Follow additional school guidance for working outdoors.
Worm care guidance
  • Handle worms as little as possible.
  • Make sure that the soil and sand is kept damp, but not wet. Worms will die if they dry out.
  • Do not feed worms any acidic vegetable remains such as onions, leek, or garlic. This includes citrus fruit.