The Best Wonder Studio Friend

Guest blogger: Joan comments on The Wonder of Worms.

Worms, worms, they’re good for your brain,
They stimulate thought and come out in the rain,
They are shiny and slimy, and they really tickle,
You can name them fun things like Sneaky, or Pickle. 
They seem to look around with either end,

And they make the best Wonder Studio friend.

So, I confess that I’m a girl who never spent much time looking at worms.  I may even have uttered the word, “Ewww!” when faced with one.  I used to think they were dirty and slimy and looked like baby snakes.  I had to dissect one once in science class and that really grossed me out.  That was my unenlightened attitude toward them until I started to come to Wonder Studio with my kids.  Over the last 8 years I have really come to appreciate those little guys and have finally mentally elevated them to the honored status of very economical and hypoallergenic class room pets.  Let me try to explain why.
During my last two day visit to Wonder Studio the worms were the main attraction for both of my kids.  They enjoyed all the other activities.  They happily ground up rice, fluttered scarves through the wind tunnel, cool-glued creations together, played in the sand kitchen and splashed around with the water pump.  But nowhere else did they take such an active role in owning-by-naming, exhibit such curiosity about the natural world, cooperate, share and teach others, and make connections to their past.

J. spent almost half of day one with the worms naming them and getting to know their different personalities.  He introduced them to me with great pride since I now am a cool mom who will say hello to and even hold a worm.
J. began, “This is Inky, Mr. Rubber, and Sneaky.”  He laid them out carefully on the blue tray and looked speculatively at the next worm he pulled out.  “Now let's see what his personality is… Wow!  This guy is Squirmy and here is Squiggles!”  He dug around in the dirt for a few more minutes. 
A very pleased look crossed his face as he thrust his palm toward me.  “This guy is Excited.  Wow look at him go! We should rename him D.J. cause he likes to dance around.  He is my favorite so far.”

Later I was introduced to Tiny and Mysterious and then J. flagged down Miss Shannon as she walked by.  He wanted to know if he could take some worms home with him.  She gently turned him down, pointing out that these are Wonder Studio worms and she has raised generations of worms right in that big bin.  She also pointed out that there are worms living in his own front yard and shared some tips on the care and feeding of worms. 
After that a little girl came over and stared in wonder at D.J. who was still busting a move on J.'s hand.
“Hi!” she gushed enthusiastically.  “Is he saying ‘Hi’ to us?”
“Yes,” responded J., holding him closer so she could admire him better. 
“I'm going to find my own worms,” he told her.  “They are in your yard, you know. Miss Shannon said the best time to find them is right after it rains. They like to eat grass and leaves.” 
His young friend looked impressed.  J. was most pleased.

On day two he rushed straight to the worms and began rooting around. 
“Mom!  Look! I found D.J.!” 
I greeted him warmly and even held him for a little bit as he wiggled and jiggled all over my palm. 
Soon J. held a much less lively looking worm up to my face for closer inspection.  “This one is Sleepy, or maybe I should name him Stealth?”
That was real toss up and I secretly wondered if he was sleeping in rather a permanent way, but then he rolled over irritably and curled up a bit.  Perhaps Grumpy should be in the running for this guy’s name?
G. soon came over to join in the fun and she got her own tray and began discovering her own squirmy friends, while also making human friends.  She found a little boy who was having trouble finding a worm and she handed him an impressively stretchy one.  They both seemed pleased with their exchange.  The boy rushed over to his mother and announced, “she shared a worm with me!”  Meanwhile G. proudly informed me, “I found a worm and I gave it to him.” 
Then she began making “helpful” suggestions to assist this boy who was considerably younger than her. 
“I think he needs some dirt,” she pointed out, gesturing to her own tray where her worms were luxuriating in their own little lumps of soil.  He ignored her and began poking vigorously in the dirt and small clumps of dirt shot out behind his digging stick and showered onto the floor.  G. looked appalled.  “Can you please NOT throw dirt out?” requested G. in her very best polite, but firm tone. 
The boy did not seem to notice her criticism because by now another activity had caught his eye and he wandered and wondered off.
We were both instantly distracted by J. quick intake of breath.  “Oh my gosh, LOOK!” he shrieked.  “It’s Cuddles!” he gasped, simultaneously holding up a worm and pointing to an old list of worms taped to the wall.  That list had been there for very many years and half of the creative worm names had my kid’s name’s scrawled next to them.   We all smiled and admired what very well may have been the great, great grandson of Cuddles the worm.  I could almost have hugged that guy.
So, if you happen to be at the Wonder Studio on a day when you are lucky enough to play with the worms please say hi to my little squirmy friends and do look for D.J.  He’s an active guy, but a very good teacher and an excellent listener.  Here’s to him and his friends!  Long may they wiggle and inspire wonder! 

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