Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Inching Worms

Karen Ledet


In small groups, students have a blast trying to measure live, wiggly, stretching worms to the nearest inch. Groups record their data onto a class graph and then compare characteristics.


The student uses customary and metric units to compare length, weight, and capacity.


-Construction paper strips or markers (depends on how you make your graph)
-Plastic to lay worms on while measuring (grocery/Wal-Mart bags work nicely)
-Butter type container to put water in (worms need to stay moist, you can use a sponge to periodically sprinkle a small amount of water on them)
-Scrap paper and pencil to record measurement data until it is transferred to graph
-White board or chart/butcher paper to draw graph on (see instructions under teacher preparations)


1. Gather materials for activity.
2. Draw a horizontal bar graph either on white board or chart paper. Student group names should be listed vertically. Measurements by the inch should be listed along the bottom.
3. Prepare a class list of names, to put on a clipboard, in preparation for the summative assessment.


1. Display pre-made, horizontal bar graph in front of class.
2. Explain all procedures for the entire activity before getting worms out. After that, the students will be much too excited to listen.
3. Encourage students to share about their experiences measuring length and explain that today we will be using live worms to learn about measuring to the nearest inch.
4. Review proper measuring technique, making sure the students understand how to align the left end of the ruler with the beginning of the object being measured on the left.
5. Remind students that because their groups will finish measuring at different times, they should select a group member to record their data on the graph. Let them know that you will be circulating around the room and that you will want to watch each group measure the worm at least once before they clean the workspace. (If left out a long time, the worms will dry out and die. If you have an on-going vermiculture set-up, students should return worms to their habitat bin when they have completed the measurement segment of this assignment. If you don't want to keep your worms, allow the students to place a couple worms in a baggie with soil, to take home for the garden or flowerbed.
6. When you are finished circulating and documenting each group's measurements, signal the students to let them know it is time to finish cleaning their work spaces and get ready for the graph discussion.
7. Begin your class discussion by asking students what they can tell you about the information presented on the graph. Answers should contain information similar to the following:
- Tell which group had the longest worm/shortest worm.
- Tell if any of the worms were the same length.
- Give approximent size of the majority of the worms.
- Tell how much longer, the longest worm was, than the shortest.


Summative Assessment - You will observe each student individually as he or sheworks to measure the worms. Document the following on a checklist:
1. Accurately measured the worm to the nearest inch.
2. Worked together with partner, assisting each other and taking turns to measure the worms.
3. Data was recorded on the graph correctly.


1. Students should have previous experience in measuring by the inch and interpreting bar graphs.
2. This lesson could be used by itself or in conjunction with units about ecology, botany, and habitats.
3. In the future, look for more -wormy- lessons utilizing Florida State Standards in science and language arts.
4. See Beacon lesson -Centimeter Slinkies- for another way to practice measuring before doing -Inching Worms.- Each of these can be modified to different forms of measurement (Non-standard, inches, nearest in., nearest in., centimeters, etc.).
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