Organizing Student Mealworms for Life Cycle Studies

Introduction: Organizing Student Mealworms for Life Cycle Studies

About: I am a K-4 Science Teacher and Robotics Coach.

Using mealworms are a great way to introduce students to life cycles in science. Mealworms are not a worm. They are the larval stage of the darkling beetle. Before the invention of Tupperware and Rubbermaid containers, people often found these creatures in their flour, oatmeal, and cereal boxes. Mealworms do not bite. As a science specialist teacher, organizing the mealworms can get complicated. This system helps keep the mealworms sorted for the various grades levels and sections of students.


Lid from carton of 10-count paper ream (any cardboard lid or plastic tray will work as well)

2 ounce plastic portion cups with lids - i set for each student

Hole punch - may also use a seam ripper, nail, or an awl

Permanent marker


1/2 tablespoon measuring spoon

Nail polish for color coding lids

Carrots 1cm. x 1cm. size ( some people use potatoes or apples, but they tend to attract more fruit flies)

Mealworms from pet store (used to feed reptiles or birds, do not get the new kind that does not go throught the life cycle)

Step 1: Gather Materials

Gather your materials from the supply list. The materials do not have to be exact. Use what you have available. Recycled deli containers will also work.

Step 2: Mealworms Need Shelter

Place the lid on the cup securely before punching holes.

Step 3: Mealworms Need Air

Use the hole punch or thin nail to punch five holes in the lids. Usually right in the center, then adding holes at 12, 6, 3, and 9 o'clock work well. Or you may also punch in random patterns.

Step 4: Mealworms Need Food

Add in 1/2 tablespoon cornmeal. Yes, the mealworm lives in their food.

Step 5: Mealworms Need Water

Add a piece of carrot for water. Students will eventually see small pieces of frass (droppings or elimination) that will be orange or brown because of the carrots.

Step 6: Welcome Mealworm!

Add 1 or 2 mealworms.

Step 7: Write Students' Names on Lids and Colorcode

Use a permanent marker to write the students' names. Add a dot of nail polish on the lids with different colors to indicate the grade levels.

Step 8: Use Box Lids to Organize by Grade or Section

Use box lids from cartons of paper reams to sort by grade levels or sections. Voila! Your classroom mealworms are now organized and ready for the Circle of Life!

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    3 years ago

    Great tips for keeping multiple classes of mealworms organized. I loved doing this Life Cycle study with my 4th-6th grade students. It was a fun change from the Butterfly Life Cycle. :)