Family Fun: When Nature Calls

Off to find earthworms in the Hawaii Nature Center's "Wonderful World of Wigglers" workshop.

Parenting involves a lot of dirty work. You know, diaper explosions, toddler meal catastrophes, mucous suctioning, etc. The list goes on. Every once in a while there comes the chance to get your hands dirty, literally, that’s actually enjoyable. And it involves worms. Read on.

My daughter and I recently attended the “Wonderful World of Wigglers” workshop at the Hawaii Nature Center. The name alone elicited a fit of giggles from my bug-loving 5-year-old, and she was thrilled at the chance to get her hands dirty and make her own wormery. (All I could think about was that scene in Dumb and Dumber where Jim Carrey announces his plans to open a worm store called, “I Got Worms.” Anyone? No? Moving on…)

Pauline makes learning about worms fun at the Hawaii Nature Center.

Our awesome guide, Pauline, the center’s volunteer program manager, began the workshop with a Worm 101 session that included fun facts (they have five hearts, who knew?) and the chance to inspect a wiggler up close. Then we headed into the great outdoors, assigned with the mission of digging up five earthworms of our own.

Sounds easy, right? Not so much. A few families apparently had the magic touch (although I think they were cheating with stealth worm-finding technology). But after 15 minutes or so of searching, my daughter and I only had one and a half (um, sorry, worm). We had to lurk around some of the more successful folks’ locations and mooch off their worm loot.

Then we brought back our buckets full of squirmers to the Center, where the kids got to fill their clear containers with layers of gravel, soil, sand, leaves, and a bit of water to create a worm farm of their very own to bring home.

Now, as much fun as we had, I’m not going to lie, I’m not sure how long I can deal with an earthworm farm on my counter at home. They might have to “accidentally escape” into the soil outside, sooner than later. But my daughter had an absolute blast, and I enjoyed the outing more than I expected. We’ll be looking forward to the upcoming programs. The 2013 workshop schedule will be announced soon.

The Hawaii Nature Center offers family hikes, nature programs, day camps, and more. For more info, call 955-0100 or visit

Not so much into worms? Here are more upcoming options for nature-related fun:

Bishop Museum: New! The “Xtreme BUGS” exhibit closes March 31. What kid wouldn’t want to see more than 20 enormous animatronic bugs? For more info, click here.

Waikiki Aquarium: Afternoons at the Aquarium, including stories, crafts, critter encounters, puppet shows and more. Wednesdays, 3 p.m. Free with paid admission. Also available: Exploring the Reef at Night and Meet the Monk Seals! For more info, click here.

Honolulu Zoo: The Zoo has a ton of fun activities for all ages, including Critters & Crafts for toddlers (next one on Jan. 14), Twilight Tours for all ages (most weekends) and Snooze in the Zoo overnight campouts. Click here for more info.

Living Art Marine Center: Beyond their regular guided tours, they host a variety of workshops and science labs for kids of all ages, from craft-making to reef walks and more. There’s a lot happening there this December. Click here for more info.

Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden: Preschool nature walks, including stories and crafts. Ages 3 to 5. Every third Tuesday, 10:30 a.m. Next one will be held Jan. 15. Call 233-7323.

Kid fact: Playing with dirt and worms is ALWAYS fun.


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