A Great Science Activity: Working with Mealworms

The science curriculum I’m using this year suggests letting the kids observe and work with mealworms. This is part of our discussion of what makes something living or not living.  I purchased some from a local pet shop and came up with a few activities for the kids to do as they observe and learn about their mealworms.

Before I even uttered a word, I simply handed the kids their own mealworms and a magnifying glass. They were enthralled for a good hour! I just sat back and listened to them talk to each other and make observations.

P1210181mealwormsNote: If you plan to work with mealworms, do not release them into the environment. They are a non-native species and are considered pests.  Perhaps you can find a friend with a lizard or bird that eats them. Or you can ask the pet shop if you can return them. One source suggests placing them in the freezer for 48 hours to dispose of them properly.

Most of our activities were either from Dr. Hughes’s mealworm activities or from Scholastic: Mealworms in the spotlight.

We spent a full day just watching and observing the mealworms. Here are some of the activities we did later in the week:

What do mealworms like to eat?

We placed a sliced apple, ground oatmeal, rice and raisins in a container.  Most of the mealworms wound up in the ground oatmeal.

Mealworm-Activity-FoodPreference

Wet or Dry Conditions:
We placed a wet paper towel and a dry paper towel in a container. Most of the mealworms actually wound up under the dry paper towel.  Maybe this says more about light/dark!

Mealworm-Activity-Wet-Dry

 Wet Food-Damp Food:

On a similar vein we placed an apple on top of ground oatmeal and had plain oatmeal in another corn.  The majority of mealworms wound up in the plain oatmeal.

Mealworm Activities DryFood-DampFood

How do mealworms react when you lightly touch their antenna with a toothpick?

Mealworm-antenna-activity

Click here to Download the Free Mealworms Activity Sheet

mealworms-activity-worksheet

Note: Just a few years later, we again studied mealworms in conjunction with our Scientific Classification and Taxonomy Unit. If you have kids who are in late elementary or middle school, you might want to check that unit out. There are more details below:

Scientific Classification and Taxonomy Unit - Packet 60+pages

Scientific Classification- Dichotomous Key ActivitiesDichotomous-Key-Activity-MonstersHistory Scientific Classification - Linnaeus Notebook Pageshttp://homeschoolden.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Taxonomy-Classificaiton-Mnemonic.jpg

Taxonomy and Classification Activity - Domain Kingdom Phylum

Taxonomy-Scientific Classification-Activities

Age range: My kids were ages 9, 12, and 14 when we did this unit.  I recommend the Scientific Classification and Taxonomy Packet for upper elementary and middle school.  Before doing this unit, my kids were pretty familiar with the different types of cells and cell organelles.  It is not necessary, but useful to go over that information before starting this unit.  (You can check out our Cell Unit  here (or with the link at the end of this post).

This packet is well over 60 pages.

Scientific Classification & Taxonomy Packet is $5.75.

Once you pay for this packet, you will immediately receive a link to download this file (which will open in a browser window).  You will also receive an email from Sendowl (the service I use) to your PayPal email address, which will have a link you can click on to download the Scientific Classification and Taxonomy unit.   Of course, if you have any issues just email me at — liesl at homeschoolden dot com.  You can also reach me by using the contact form.

This packet is included in the Biology Bundle (see below).

Cost: $5.75

Remember to check your PayPal address for the download link. :)

Scientific Classification and Taxonomy Unit - Packet 60+pages

You might also be interested in our other biology units. Find out more by clicking the links below or you can add them to your shopping cart using the buttons below.

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1) Biology Unit (Biomes, habitats, food chains/webs, feeding relationships) 2) Scientific Classification & Taxonomy Packet 3) Ocean Unit & Layers of the Ocean/Ocean Zone Activities 4) Cells Unit 5) Botany Unit

Biology Bundle of 5

There is also a Biology BUNDLE of 3

$18.00 Biology BUNDLE of 3: 1) Biology Unit (Biomes, habitats, food chains/webs, feeding relationships) 2)  Scientific Classification & Taxonomy Packet 3) Ocean Unit & Layers of the Ocean/Ocean Zone Activities

Biology Unit on the Biosphere: (Click here to find out more) Biomes, Ecosystems, Habitats, Feeding Relationships, Biological Relationships

Ocean Packet (Click here to visit the post): Ocean Unit – Layers of the Ocean/Ocean Zone  

  $6.50 Biology Unit: Biomes, habitats, ecosystem, biological interactions, feeding relationships (70 pages)

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  $8.00 Ocean Packet: Ocean Unit – Layers of the Ocean/Ocean Zone  

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  $6.99 A Study of Cells Unit

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$5.99 Botany Packet — Plant Classification, Life Cycle of the Moss, Fern, Conifer, Angiosperms, Parts of a Flower, Parts of a Seed, Seed & Fruit Development, Monocots vs Dicots – plus Carnivorous Plants Mini-Unit  Botany Packet – Quick Preview (Growing! Look for Future Updates… we’ll be studying Botany again soon.) View Botany post and view the carnivorous plants mini-unit (included in this packet) or view parts of a flower/parts of seed image, view image 2 – carnivorous plants unit

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14 Responses

  1. That is a really cool experiment! How long did it take for the mealworms to congregate around the oats vs the apple and so forth? I did an experiment with mealworms in 6th grade and ours went really slowly (mine actually died). Thanks for sharing the lab sheets!

    • Liesl Den says:

      Actually, the mealworms moved around really quickly when we first got them. They don’t move around anywhere near as quickly (now about two weeks later). So they moved to the different areas within about 30-60 minutes (some even faster).

  2. That is a really cool experiment! How long did it take for the mealworms to congregate around the oats vs the apple and so forth? I did an experiment with mealworms in 6th grade and ours went really slowly (mine actually died). Thanks for sharing the lab sheets!

    • Liesl Den says:

      Actually, the mealworms moved around really quickly when we first got them. They don’t move around anywhere near as quickly (now about two weeks later). So they moved to the different areas within about 30-60 minutes (some even faster).

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