By Larraine Roulston:
With February 14th just around the corner, children are busy creating those familiar Valentine’s Day cards for family and friends. Do you recall the clichés with pets, such as “Dog Gone It” and “You’re Purrrfect For Me”? Imagine now the endearing worm joining the list of character animals that are always featured. They can “Worm their way into your heart” or “Wiggle a giggle of love.” “Roses Red, Violets are Blue. I have 5 hearts, Beating for you” works extremely well.
In the words of Charles Darwin, “It may be doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world, as have these lowly organized creatures.”
Worms are industrious little critters. Known as Angels of the Earth, they have 5 pairs of hearts, so you’ve got to love ‘em. In a worm bin, the red wigglers’ castings, known as the Cadillac of finished compost, can be used in a school’s nature garden or sold as a fundraiser. In a backyard, earthworms devour all of a family’s food scraps and yard trimmings and, in turn, provide a rich natural soil conditioner.
What better time to show appreciation of their wonderful work than by designing Valentine’s cards with messages to promote the love of worms and the success of finished compost?
For artwork, have your students decorate the school’s composter or classroom worm bin with newspaper hearts. Each can host a loving message. String a brown paper chain of hearts on the wall. Fasten pictures with a paste of flour and water to show what their classroom residents love to eat. To those who like to doodle, I suggest that swirls of spirals and curves can be shaped into worms.
In every class there are children who love to act. Morning announcements on the PA system offer an opportunity to present a short Valentine’s Day script about the love of healthy food from a worm’s point of view.
When celebrations are over, compost all the crumbs and dregs from a family or classroom party. Add cartoon worm pictures to the Valentine’s box of ideas. Recycle the newspaper decorations or shred, dampen and include them with your vermicomposter’s bedding. (Remember to let tap water sit out for 2 days to allow the chlorine to evaporate.) Brown paper decorations can be added to an outdoor composter to provide the carbon that is essential for great compost. Crumpled brown paper and cardboard come in handy if you are located where snow covers the ground and do not have a ready supply of brown leaves.
As with all celebrations, composting should be part and parcel of the event. Children of the “zero waste generation” will become our media announcers, artists, editors, architects, coffee shop owners, office workers, et cetera. By introducing worms into their formative years of creativity, we will develop within them a desire to promote the amazing work of worms and to design ways to compost onsite at their chosen vocations.
Larraine Roulston is the author of the Pee Wee at Castle Compost series that are fun and factual. Visit www.castlecompost.com