Earthworm Lesson for Kids: Facts & Anatomy

Instructor: Bonnie Pluta

Bonnie has taught at the elementary and middle school level and has a master's degree in Child and Family Studies.

Earthworms are interesting creatures that are good for the environment. Read this lesson to learn more about the earthworm and how it helps things grow.

Earthworms are Good for the Earth

Earthworms are the slimy, pink, wiggly worms you commonly see in the driveway or pavement after a big rainstorm. Many people use them as fishing bait, but the common earthworm is actually very important for the health of our environment.

Earthworms make the soil healthy.
soil worm

Earthworms live in the ground and wiggle through the dirt making tunnels. These tunnels allow water, air, and nutrients to travel through the soil. Earthworms also eat the soil, which consists of organic material such as decaying leaves, animals, and plants. The worms digest this material and release it back into the ground. This material, known as castings, is a nutrient-rich food source that plants absorb to grow healthily. Other animals, including people, can eat these healthy plants. So you see, earthworms provide us with food!

Earthworms Have Many Functions

Earthworms are about seven to eight centimeters long. They look like small, simple creatures, but they actually do a lot of the things we do: they move, digest food, circulate blood, breathe, and reproduce.

Movement

If you ever peer closely at an earthworm you will see its body is made up of about 100 to 150 circular bands, or segments called annuli. Each segment has small, stiff hairs, which helps the earthworm move.

The segments of the earthworm are called annuli
Drawing of earthworm segments

Digestion

The digestive system includes the body parts to break down the food an animal eats. The first segment on an earthworm includes its mouth, but it has no teeth. So how does the worm chew its food? When the earthworm swallows its meal, the food makes its way to the gizzard. Tiny stones that were eaten by the worm churn in the gizzard to break down the food.

Circulation

The circulatory system is important because it carries important nutrients and oxygen that the worm needs through the bloodstream. Blood travels in tiny vessels. There are five aortic arches, which are like tiny hearts that pump blood into the vessels to travel throughout the worm's body. This process delivers the nutrients the worm needs to live.

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