Learning all about worms, with special attention to our new friend, the millipede.

Earthworms abound in the moist front-yard soil. The other day, the kids spent hours watching an earthworm worm its way around a puddle before sinking into the soil. So we decided to play with worms.

Prophet and Little B. practiced their scissor skills by cutting out some worms and watercoloring them.

Why not use their fancy worms for the cover of our small earthworm lapbook? Enter glue stick and worm selection process.

But our worm study really took off (and shifted gears a bit) when Gnome discovered a millipede….. To talk about millipedes, it was necessary for me to utter one of those strange words that sounds like a magic spell to many little folks- namely, myriapods. Unlike our insect friends, myriapods aren’t really bugs at all.

We used our plastic crawlers to compare the two myriapod millipedes to the insect caterpillar.

Nearly 13,000 species of arthropod are classified in the Myriapoda, which means “many-legged ones.” Prophet demanded to know what on earth those “arthtroscods” might be.

Arthropods are a group of creatures classified as invertebrates, or animals without a backbone. The arthropod group includes all invertebrates which have a skeleton on the outside of their bodies. The exoskeleton is made of chitin and the legs are jointed. This group is so large that it has been divided again into four sub-groups – insects, crustaceans, spiders and myriapods.

Now for a closer look at the millipede. The millipede’s body has a trunk composed of individual segments known as tergites.

It didn’t take long for Prophet to notice that her fake plastic worms were not millipedes at all. Indeed, the plastic worms were actually replicas of the fearsome creatures known as centipedes. For lack of a live centipede, we made do with the plastic version.

Centipede Class mini book (PDF)

Explaining why centipedes and millipedes were not in the same class of creatures was difficult. Compared to a centipede, the millipede has shorter antennae on the top of its head. It also lacks the two hooked posterior legs that appear on the head-like anus at the rear of the trunk.

Trillium Montessori has a lovely sorting game for insects and non-insects that makes good use of plastic creatures.

On the crafting side, there are endless millipede and centipede crafts to excite little hands and imaginations. Here are a few I stumbled upon- those wooden spoon millipedes are fantastic.

Centipede friendship bracelets (Friendship Bracelets)
Millipede madness (Always Outside)
Wooden spoon millipedes (Handmade Charlotte)
Curling millipede bracelet (Fusion Knots)

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