Racing Paper Worms

And now for something completely different! A few weeks ago, when this whole pandemic/lockdown pitch became a real long term possibility, I got online and grabbed a whole ton of links to resources I thought I may eventually want to try out. Today we attempted one of them: making and racing paper worms.

What makes this craft truly the VERY best is that it requires almost nothing more than a piece of paper. I adapted the project and added a couple of elements so that it was more of a learning activity and not just a craft. But this is entirely optional. Below is what I used for my version. If you have 3 minutes and a piece of paper you can make just the worm though!

For the craft you will need

  • Printer to print the template
  • Scissors to cut out dice template and strip of paper for each worm.
  • Paper to make worms.
  • Glue sticks or tape to assemble dice
  • Marker to draw numbers/dots on dice
  • Tape to mark out race lanes
  • Post it notes to mark numbers alone raceway
  • Straws to blow worms along track

As you may notice from the picture above, my table today features a delightful black vinyl table cloth. I’d love to pretend there was some important craft related reason for this. But here’s the truth: whilst the boys were doing their Raz Kids time this morning, Arthur helped himself to a sharpie from the art cart. He then climbed onto my kitchen table and went to town. By the time I caught up with him he had done some MAJOR scribbles with a black marker, on my white kitchen table. I used alcohol wipes and it semi came off, but it’s still partially there. I don’t have a magic eraser right now, so in a literal “sweep it under the rug” move: I shoved this tablecloth on and away we go!

Back to the worms! To make the little worms you have to cut a 14 cm strip of paper. Then you fold it up. I’m typing this in bed, with a bowl of chocolate chips, after a very long day. So to be honest I simply don’t have the vocabulary to adequately explain the procedure for folding correctly. However: this handy little video is going to show you exactly what to do!

Once our worms were assembled we turned our attention to our dice. I’d printed us each a template for a net. Side note here. What exactly is the term for that in America?! In England we call them nets. The 2D diagram that you cut out and fold to create a 3D model of a shape. If you know what they’re called here please send me a message. It’s driving me insane.

This entire dice project was because I wanted to incorporate some math for the kids. I planned to lay out numbers down the side of the work race track, and have them roll their dice to see how many spots down the track they had to move. I have the boys and J the choice of either drawing dots on each face of their dice, or writing the number. All went for the number. William and J cut their own dice template out. Because it needed to be a little more exact as it was being glued into a 3D shape, I did Teddy’s. J also held his hand and guided him for his numbers on his dice.

Once we had our dice done they joined our worms on the side. The boys took a break to go into the yard and argue loudly over which one of them got the first turn on the swing. Whilst they were busy embarrassingly me heavily, in front of any neighbors in a 4 house radius who were also in their yards, I put together the race track. I’d suggest using masking tape to do this if you have it. I did, but I felt like I should save it for actual DIY painting jobs around the house as I don’t know when we’ll be able to go out and shop again. I used orange electrical tape, my father in law is an electrician and somehow I’ve ended up with roll after roll of this stuff. May as well put it to use!

I did three lanes, with a finish line at the end. Down the side of the lanes I laid out 14 mini post it notes, that I numbered 1-14. The aim of the game was to reach the finish line first. Each competitor took turns rolling their dice. Whatever number it ended on, they had to blow their work to that number post it. I really liked adding this aspect to the game. As opposed to just blowing wildly to make it to the finish first, the kids had to use some self restraint, and blow harder or softer to land exactly where they needed to be.

Once the kids took their second turn the real math came into play. They had to add the number from their second roll to the number their worm was currently on to see where they had to move to. The random aspect of rolling a dice to determine position really helped with cooling down the competitive attitudes of the boys. Although they’re generally quite amenable with each other they most definitely have their moments where they struggle not to compete. I’m all in favor of a little healthy competition, but when that turns into major tantrums and shouting matches I could do without it.

I am very happy to report that instead of a single raised voice, racing these little worms caused an afternoon of so many giggles. the boys were completely enthralled by how the worms moved so easily along the table as they blew them. It’s truly fascinating how you can spend all the money in the world on toys and children will play with them for 15 minutes and discard. Give them a folded strip of paper and a straw and you’ve got 2 hours of quiet time.


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