Teaching Just a Worm

A Note to the Reader

I am delighted to welcome Marie Boyd to the blog to talk about her inspirational and educational picture book, Just a Worm. She’s provided us with many ways to take this book into the classroom or library story time–and use it to help children learn. Enjoy!


Teaching Just a Worm


Tell us about your book. What do you hope your young readers will take away from your book?

In my debut book Just a Worm, after being called “just a worm” by two kids, Worm embarks on a journey around the garden to prove them wrong. Along the way, Worm encounters other garden creatures that have important qualities. But what can Worm do? What makes Worm special?


I illustrated Just a Worm with quilled paper. I cut, coiled, and curled narrow strips of paper and used them to construct the illustrations.


I hope that Just a Worm will encourage readers to consider the power of words, think about the special role that they play in their family or community, and recognize that everyone has something to contribute.


What are your book’s hooks for teachers, librarians, and community leaders?

Just a Worm is a great choice for classroom units on gardening, insects, or spring. It is a STEAM-themed picture book that explores the wonderful and unique ways Worm and friends contribute to the garden.


Can you share an exercise or activity that teachers can do with students after they’ve read your book?

I’m happy to share a few activities that educators and families can do with young readers after they’ve read Just a Worm.

  • Encourage children to look at the illustrations in Just a Worm. Ask them to talk about what they think Worm is feeling in each picture. Give each child a hand-held mirror and ask them to make faces expressing the different emotions they identified in the book.
  • Have children interview peers or other members of the school or community about how the interviewee contributes to their community. Talk about how to ask questions that can lead to thoughtful answers and how to listen to the interviewee’s responses.
  • Take a nature walk. Give each child a small paper bag and have them collect (safe/non-toxic) leaves, seed pods, and branches. After the walk ask children to describe and/or draw the objects they collected.
  • Have children try their hand at quilling. The backmatter in Just a Worm includes a butterfly quilling craft for kids and I share more craft ideas on my website at www.marieboyd, including a video tutorial for easy quilled snails.


What books pair well with your book?

Books about community gardening, such as Harlem Grown by Tony Hillery, and Green Green: A Community Gardening Story by Marie Lamba and Baldev Lamba, pair well with Just a Worm as do books about how children can help care for the planet like Dear Earth . . . From Your Friends in Room 5 by Erin Dealey. Readers who want to learn more about worms, may want to read a nonfiction book about worms, like Worms by Robin Nelson.


About the author. Marie Boyd studied chemistry in college and is a law professor. An expert in cosmetics and food regulation, she loves spending time outside, whipping up new creations in the kitchen, and quilling! Just a Worm is her first book for children. Marie lives in Columbia, South Carolina, with her family. Connect with her at marieboyd.com and on Instagram @artistscholar.



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