My first graders constructed terrariums last week. They were so excited to measure out soil, add a plant, sprinkle in some grass seeds, and spritz it all with water. We added a flap of black paper to one end of the boxes so that the terrariums would have a dark place for the critters I planned for them to add. They wrote all about making the terrariums in their journals and eagerly drew a picture of the finished project, all the while speculating on what the first critter was going to be.
Some of the guesses included a frog, lizard, fish (is this kid really gifted?!), lots of different insects, bat ("You said they like the dark," the firstie told me), bird, and snake. No one guessed earthworm. Yay, they were going to be surprised! Little did I know . . .
I ordered some earthworms from our local education service center (free, baby!) and they were delivered on the Friday before I needed them on Tuesday. The directions said you could keep them in the refrigerator if you weren't going to use them for a few days. So I popped them in the fridge in the faculty lounge that afternoon, planning to take them out Monday so they'd be ready for the firsties Tuesday morning. My plan was to read Diary of a Worm and then give each kid a worm and a magnifying glass and let them observe. Then we'd add them to the terrariums.
I went to get the worms Monday, during my conference time. They were still there, thank goodness, so I took them back to my room to open the container and take a peek.
The worms were dead.
I needed them the next day.
I decided to use this as a teachable moment. We went through our usual routine - creating our new card for An Alphabet You Never Met and discussing our new Fancy Nancy word. Then I broke the news of the tragedy.
My smartest little firstie says, "It's that Fancy Nancy word - a fiasco!"
Love those kids!
P.S. We read the book and made notes about what we learned. We are on Spring Break next week, but we'll try again with the worms the next time we have class. Anyone know if the death of a worm requires you to have a funeral?