Mealworms Hands-On Unit Study for Kids

Studying Mealworms with Kids

Mealworms are easy and fun to raise. They’re low-maintenance, and the perfect introduction to lifecycles for young scientists. Studying mealworms gives kids a chance to observe, care for, and experiment with living creatures in a hands-on way.


Mealworms Hands-On Unit Study for Kids


Head to your local pet store, and grab a tub of mealworms today – or get them online like we did. We ordered a large box because we were sharing ours with kids in the homeschool elementary science class I teach at our co-op.


Observe the Mealworms

When you first get your mealworms home, observe them. Take them out and let your kids handle them and watch them move. Encourage your children to make observations with their senses and include those in their science journals or in the printable mealworm journal {free download below} I created for my class.

Hand your children a magnifying glass or a pocket microscope and ask them to look closer. What do they observe about how the mealworms move {their locomotion}. Is this what they expected? Why or why not?


Build the Mealworms a Habitat

Using a book or your computer, ask your kids what their mealworms need in order to survive and how they could build a habitat that supported those needs. All living creatures need shelter, food, and water.

We used small plastic food containers with holes punched into the top for our habitats. Mealworms really are that low maintenance. When you’re setting up your habitat with your children, choose a container made our of glass or plastic {when we keep them at home like we’re doing now, we use a small glass aquarium we picked up at the pet store years ago}.

Line the bottom with a 1/2-inch of rolled oats or wheat germ. This will serve as the mealworms’ bedding and food source. Mealworms will get their water from chunks of carrots, potatoes, or apples. Just be sure to change them out periodically before mold grows on them so your mealworms stay healthy.


Mealworms Hands-On Unit Study for Kids


Learn About Their Life Cycle

Mealworms are the larvae of the darkling beetle. They’re not actually worms, despite their name. Kids always find this interesting.

Use the printable journal {below} to learn the different steps in the life cycle of these interesting insects. Inside you’ll find a page for your kids to color, and another to draw their observations as they observe their habitat for signs of pupating larvae and the emerging beetles.


Experiment with Mealworms

One of the most interesting things about raising mealworms is that they are so easy to handle that even little kids can safely use them in experiments, teaching them to be humane and careful as they learn.


Try these:

  • Have your children place their mealworms in the center of a tray. In each corner, put a different food item – sugar, carrot, salt, water. Have your kids predict which food item their mealworm will go to, and then have them watch to see if their prediction was correct.
  • Using toothpicks, have your child create a maze on a piece of paper {or in the printable journal} and put food at one end. Test the mealworm. How quickly does it go through the maze the first time? The second time? Additional trials? Why? Did anything surprise your child? What?
  • Start a mealworm in the center of a piece of paper. Follow its path with a crayon. When it reaches the edge of the paper, choose a different mealworm and repeat the activity with a different color crayon. Do this with several other mealworms. Do any of them travel along the same path? Why do you think this was the case?
  • Place a mealworm next to a ruler and record how far it travels in 30 seconds, one minute, two minutes, and so on. Does it travel in a straight line?


Download Your Mealworm Science Journal

Are you ready to try all of these activities with your little ones? Download your Mealworm Science Journal now so they have the perfect place to record all of their observations as they complete these fun activities. Simply enter your email address below and the link to the journal will be emailed to you right away — but make sure you save it to your computer right away. The link expires after 72 hours.


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Mealworms Hands-On Unit Study for Kids


Extend the Learning

Mealworms are great fun for kids to raise and observe. There are many great books available to check out form the library and fun toys and tools to enhance your unit study.

What else can you and your child do while studying mealworms? Share your ideas in the comments. I’d love to hear them. Don’t forget to grab a copy of the Mealworm Journal and have your child record all of his or her observations. Have fun! For more great preschool and early elementary posts about lifecycles, check out my friends on the #playfulpreschool team:

Butterfly Life Cycle Activities for Kids

Ladybug Life Cycle Activities for Kids

Frog Life Cycle Activities for Kids

Mealworms Life Cycle Activities for Kids

Sea Turtle Life Cycle Activities for Kids

Praying Mantis Life Cycle Activities for Kids


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Mealworms Hands-On Unit Study for Kids