As we get older the thought of getting our hands stuck into a big pile of dirt and pulling out a wriggly, slimy worm is not top of our list of things to do with our day. But if we take a moment and wind time back to the 1980’s-1990’s, it would probably have been a totally different story. Kids love to get messy and what better way to do that than to build a wormery!

Fun fact: Studies suggest that there are many benefits to playing in the mud and even go as far as to say that it is biology that draws us in. It has been proven that your immune system is stimulated when exposed to friendly soil bacteria (Mycobacterium Vaccae) found in the dirt. This releases endorphins that regulate mood. Believe it or not:

  • Mud invokes happiness 
  • Mud gets our brain working 
  • Mud reduces the likelihood of depression
  • Mud reduces allergies and asthma

Let’s make a wormery!

Worms are super important creatures, they move through the soil breaking down old rotting plants, fertilising and mixing the soil as they go. The process of them doing this is not something we see from above ground. By creating a wormery your children will have the opportunity to see, first hand, how a worm turns plant waste into soil. It will encourage them to appreciate the importance of not just worms but all living things found in garden wildlife. Your children are likely to find this much easier than you do so be aware of your reaction as they will ??????

How long will it take to set up?

You can make this as lengthy or as quickly as you like but on average it takes around half an hour to collect everything you need. You can then spend a couple of weeks watching and admiring the worms at work.

What will I need?

  • a large, clean, glass jar or clean fizzy drink bottle
  • damp soil
  • worms
  • old leaves
  • vegetable peelings, tea leaves, overripe grapes
  • sand
  • some black paper and a cool, dark cupboard

Step-by-step guide

  1. Prepare your work area. This is a job best done outside but if you prefer to work inside, cover the table with newspaper to prevent too much mess (and then cleaning).
  2. Take your jar or bottle and wash thoroughly.
  3. If you have chosen to use a bottle:
    • Cut the top ¼ off the bottle, to make a lid. Make a slit in the side of the lid so that the top can close over the bottom part.
  4. Help your child to fill the bottle with alternating layers of sand, soil, and leaves. Spray each layer with water before moving onto the next.
  5. Now is the fun part…ask your children to go and find some worms. (I will add some tips on how to find them at the end of the post.)
  6. Once you have the worms make sure your children have a good look at them and give them some fun facts.
  7. Introduce the worms to their new temporary home.
  8. Add any vegetable peelings, tea leaves, overripe fruit to the top.
  9. Close the lid making sure there is a hole or two so that oxygen can enter the bottle.
  10. Cover in dark paper or material as worms do not like light, this will encourage the worms to the bottle edges. Afterwards, place the bottle into a cool dark cupboard.
  11. Check-in on them every day to see how they are getting on and the progress they are making. Make sure there is enough food in there and that the soil is kept damp. You could always suggest your children keep a diary or draw pictures as some fun activities.
  12. After 2, weeks release the worms back into the garden.

I’m struggling to find worms…help!

When I decided to write this activity up my main question was how on earth do you find worms. I just don’t see them very often. So, I decided to do some research and have put together some tips to help you get your wormery started.

Method 1: Worms like damp dark places, look under old pieces of wood or rocks laying around in the garden.

Method 2: Worms breath through their skin so if their burrows fill with water, they must come to the surface for air. You might have some luck by soaking the ground in an area of your garden and covering the area with something dark for 15 minutes.

Method 3: It has been found that worms react to vibrations, stamping up and down may help you tempt worms to the surface.

Method 4: Take a pitchfork or shovel and place it in the soil, pushing it backwards and forwards for 10 minutes. This will again send vibrations through the earth that could be seen somewhat like a mole burrowing.


Worms are fragile so handle them with care. They dry out easily so make sure you don’t handle them for too long and try to keep your hand damp.

Most importantly have fun and if you have any photographs feel free to post them on our Facebook page…we would love to see what you have been up to!


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