Preschool Programs Chapter

Go Wild in the Dirt

Books to Share

  • Dig! by Andrea Zimmerman.
  • Earthworms by Claire Llewellyn and Barrie Watts.
  • Mud by Mary Lyn Ray.
  • Mud Puddle by Robert Munsch.
  • My Truck is Stuck by Kevin Lewis.

Books to Show and Booktalk

  • And The Good Brown Earth by Kathy Henderson.
  • Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin.
  • From Mud to House by Bertram Knight.
  • A Handful of Dirt by Raymond Bial.
  • Mole Music by David McPhail.

Bulletin Board

Go Wild in the Dirt!

Cover the bulletin board with brown craft paper. Cut or tear holes in the paper and attach earth-dwelling animals so that their heads are sticking out. Moles, groundhogs, rabbits, mice, burrowing owls, badgers, bumblebees, and worms are good candidates. Use pictures cut from old magazines, die-cut patterns, clip art, or draw them by hand. Search the Microsoft Office Clip Art and Media Web site at for animals. Or print coloring pages with animals at the Enchanted Learning Web site at


Make nametags using the mud puddle pattern, or cut irregular shaped circles or ovals out of brown construction paper or paper shopping bag.


Edible Mud

This can serve as both a craft activity and a treat!

  • Chocolate graham crackers
  • Wax paper
  • Rolling pin
  • Milk
  • Paper cups
  • Plastic spoons
  • Gummy worms (optional)

Place the chocolate graham crackers between two sheets of wax paper and crush them into small crumbs with a rolling pin. For each child, fill one paper cup one-half to three-quarters full with the crumbs. Moisten the crumbs with a spoonful of milk and stir until thoroughly mixed. Add gummy worms, if desired. Serve with a plastic spoon.

Caution: Remember to check whether kids are allergic to chocolate or are lactose-intolerant. Use regular graham crackers and substitute soymilk or water for the moistening agent, if desired. Alternatively, serve the graham cracker crumbs dry, or put the dry ingredients in a plastic bag for the children to take home.


The Mud Puddle

(By Barrie Teague Alguire)

Here’s a great big mud puddle. (Make a circle with your arms)

I walk around it. (Show fingers walking around the imaginary puddle)

I touch it with my finger. (Mime touching)

I scoop up a glop (Mime scooping)

And squeeze it through my fingers. (Mime squeezing)

Then I take off my shoes (Pluck at your “walking” fingers as if removing shoes)

And jump right in! (Jump your fingers into the imaginary puddle, or jump with your whole body)

Planting Time

(By Barrie Teague Alguire)

First you dig a hole in the dirt. (Make digging motions)

Then you put in a seed. (Mime dropping in a seed)

You cover it up. (Make covering motions)

You water it. (Indicate pouring as from a watering can)

And … watch it grow. (Let your right hand slide up from behind your left hand to show a plant emerging from the ground)

The Mole

(By Barrie Teague Alguire)

There was a little mole (Hold your right hand up in a shape like a duck about to quack)

Who lived under the ground. (Hold your left arm horizontal chest high, with right hand below it)

He dug a tunnel, (Make digging motions with your right hand and move it slightly left)

And dug a tunnel, (Repeat the digging motions and move it slightly right)

Popped up, (Raise your right hand quickly above your left arm)

And looked around. (Rotate your right hand back and forth as if looking around)

“Too bright!” he said, (Make a face, shake your right hand vigorously in a negative reaction)

And he popped back down. (Return your right hand quickly to below your left arm)

Rhymes and Poetry

Read “The Mole” in Beast Feast by Douglas Florian.


“Dirt” on Cowboys, Sisters, Rascals, and Dirt by Waylon Jennings.


Clay Worm

  • Clay or Model Magic
  • Plastic tablecloth or covering
  • Plastic sandwich bags or paper towels
  • Markers (optional)

Cover tables with plastic to protect them. Give the children small balls of clay. Let them roll out “worms” to take home. If you use Model Magic or another quick-drying clay, the worm can be painted or colored with markers. Give the children plastic sandwich bags or paper towels to hold the worms for the trip from the library to home.

Milk Bottle Watering Can

(Adapted from EcoArt! by Laurie Carlson.)

  • Plastic half-gallon milk containers
  • Assorted flower stickers
  • 3-D gel or paint pens
  • Hammer
  • Large nail, or ice pick

In advance, collect enough milk containers to give one to each child and clean them thoroughly. Use a hammer and a large nail or an ice pick to punch a cluster of five to seven holes near the top of the milk containers on the side opposite the handle. Punch two more holes on the handle-side near the top to permit the water to flow freely. Give each child a milk container to decorate with the flower stickers, markers, or 3-D gel or paint pens. Elmer’s 3D Paint Pens are available at craft supply stores. The paints in these squeezable pens dry raised, so artwork pops up from the surface. When finished, the children can put water in the bottle to water plants at home.


Explore Dirt

Place sand, potting soil, clay, silt, and gravel, etc. in individual shallow bowls or containers. Encourage the children to look at and feel each and talk about the different colors, textures, and smells. Give them disinfectant handwash or handwipes when the activity is over.

Earthworm Farm

Make an Earthworm Wonderland described in EcoArt! by Laurie Carlson, p. 56. Lift the paper wrapping so the children can observe the earthworms.

Plant a Seed

  • Paper cups
  • Potting soil
  • Spoons
  • Flower seeds
  • Water

Let each child fill a paper cup ¾ full with potting soil. Give them a flower seed, such as a Zinnia. Let them plant the seed just under the soil, or as the seed package directs. Add water. Let the child take it home to watch it grow.

Guest Speakers

Invite a science teacher or the owner of a pet store to bring an ant farm for the children to observe.


Display this video for home use or show it if you have public performance rights.

Just Imagine! You’re a Heavy Equipment Operator. (19 minutes)

Web Sites

Discovery - The Dirt on Soil

The Discovery Channel shows what’s really happening underground.

Underground Adventure

Chicago’s Field Museum exhibit allows viewers to take a virtual tour of their underground exhibit and meet the many creatures that live in dirt.

Professional Resources

EcoArt! by Laurie Carlson.


Texas Reading Club 2005 Programming Manual / Go Wild...Read!

Published by the Library Development Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Page last modified: June 14, 2011