A cute poem and song for elementary school students can be found by clicking here.
School teachers can ask questions and submit curriculum ideas about silkworms via the Internet.
The book Silkworms, by Sylvia Johnson, is excellent for
children and adults alike. It has great photos. Most bookstores can order it, or order the
paperback book on-line from amazon.com. The paperback ISBN is 0-3225-9557-5 ($6 retail).
It is also available in hardback library binding ISBN 0-8225-1478-8 ($16 retail).
The Empress and the Silkworm by Lily Toy Hong tells the story of how silk was first discovered in China. Picture book, part fact and part fable with pretty drawings. $16.95 ISBN# 0-8075-2009-8 in hardback. Available from amazon.com or bookstores.
Another excellent book on silkworms for elementary schools is Silkworms by L. Patricia Kite. Great photos. $8.95 from Amazon.comAmazon.com. ISBN 1-57502-542-6.
For silkworm eggs and other supplies, visit the Eggs and Equipment page.
Try these teacher-tested curriculum ideas:
Silkworm math. Have the kids measure the length of the silkworms and graph them as they grow.
Rainfall: When the silkworms are large, take the lid off the container and have the children be extremely quiet. They will be able to hear the sound of the silkworms moving around! It sounds like a gentle rainfall. The sound is not chewing, but their little suction-cup feet lifting off the leaves and plopping back down again.
Silkworm pet. Give each kid a silkworm in a cut-down milk carton on their desk. Have them put in a fresh leaf twice a day, and empty the droppings out. Put the silkworm on a stick and they can see it crawl around. Wait until the caterpillars are two weeks old since there is a high mortality rate for the first few weeks.
Heartbeat. With a full-grown caterpillar, you can easily see the heart pumping blood through the translucent skin. The heart is located at the rear end of the caterpillar on the top. You can see it pulse. The main artery carrying the blood is where the backbone would be if it had one. For more information on insect circulatory systems, check out http://www.cals.ncsu.edu:8050/course/ent425/tutorial/circulatory.html
Egg laying. If a female moth happens to be laying eggs, have the children watch. You can actually see the yellow eggs emerge one at a time from her rear end! She feels around with her ovipositor ("egg-layer" in Latin) until she feels an empty place to put the egg.
Coarse thread . You can make silk thread without killing any of the pupas. When the cocoons are spun, there is a fair amount of loose silk on them. Have the children gently pull it off the cocoon, making sure not to crush it. They can then roll it between their fingers to make a coarse silk thread.
Fine thread. In order to unwind the cocoon, you must kill the pupa inside. Place the cocoons on a cookie sheet in 200 degree oven for 30 minutes. Then drop the cocoons in boiling water. After five minutes, you can reach in (wearing rubber dishwashing gloves), and begin to unwind the cocoon. Unwinding five at a time will make a fine, strong, thread.
Silk bookmarks. You can cut out shapes from cardboard and stick it on a bottle. Then place the spinning worm on the top. The worm, not having a corner to spin it's cocoon, will criss cross over the top of the card, and around the edges. Once the worm became a pupa, take it off the card, take the silk off the card and have a silk woven shape like a heart or cross or star. Of course the worms don't care much for corners on shapes, so there will be rounded corners instead of sharp ones. You can put more than one worm on a shape to make it thicker. These silk shapes made great bookmarks!
Today silk can be worn by anyone -- not just emperors and noblemen and their families. Silk is made into many lovely fabrics, such as satin, velvet, chiffon, crepe, brocade, taffeta, faille, and shantung. A good class project would be to see how many different kinds of silk cloth could be collected and put them on a chart for the kids to see and feel. The beautiful colors of silk would also make a nice chart.