Saturday, September 25, 2010

Science Sunday: Silkworms

We have been leaning about China and some of the fascinating discoveries and inventions that originated from the country.  This week we talked about silkworms and how silk cloth is made.


Where Does Silk Come From?

Emily and Aiden looked at a piece of silk and pulled some of the loose threads.  IMG_4021

I asked them where silk came from?  I got an “umm?, umm?” from Aiden and “I don’t know” from Emily.

I showed them these cute little guys and explained that these were silkworms  at different stages of life.  Silk comes from the threads of the silkworms cocoon, which is weaved into cloth.


How In the World Did Someone Discover that Silk Can be Made from Silkworm Cocoons?

We listened the story of Lei Zu and the Silkworms on The Story of the World Volume 1: The Ancient Times Audiobook CD

The story is about Lie Zu who was outside under a mulberry tree enjoying a lovely cup of hot tea when a silkworm cocoon fell in her tea.  It began to unravel in the hot tea.  She pulled the thread and walked around the garden, trailing the tread behind her.  She continued to unravel more of the cocoons and winding them together until she had a piece of thread think enough to weave.  She took them to a dressmaker which created the first silk cloth.

The Life Cycle of a Silkworm

We read Life Cycle of A Silkworm (ugly caterpillars, aren’t they?)


and Emily worked on two worksheets I created, a Silkworm Question Sheet and the Silkworm Life Cycle


Click on the images to download

She used the Silkworm Life Cycle Figures for her drawings.


I also printed Silkworm Sequencing Cards (Eggs to Silk) from here and Emily put them in order. 


Some interesting facts we learned:

  • Other kinds of moths can fly to escape predators.  A domesticated silkworm has no predators, so it does not fly.
  • It takes 110 cocoons to make a silk tie and 640 cocoons to make a silk shirt.
  • A single thread of silk from a silkworm cocoon can be one mile long. 
  • A single thread of silk is stronger than the same size thread of some types of steel.

We finished up by looking at pictures of a Silk factory in Shanghai China.  The kids were very sad to learn that most of the silkworms are killed during the production process.

For more fun with science, check out Science Sunday at Adventures in Mommydom.



Linda said...

Awesome unit!! My boys would enjoy that!! Thanks for sharing =)

Phyllis said...

Nice post. I like the plastic figures and the cards to print out. Have you read the Empress and the Silkworm? That might be a nice addition to the studies. It was a nice unit study!

Cajunrose said...

Great blog! I am excited to add it to my blog list.

Great unit study! I had no idea that silkworms were killed to make silk. That makes me so sad!

Ticia said...

Have you seen the Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That with silk worms? My kids love that one.

I love your plastic figures, we use a lot of those too.

April said...

Fun science study and China theme. Have you seen the China learning kit that a mom from China sells? It has China themed stuff such as currency and she sells it for 20 dollars I think.

Jolanthe said...

Jealous for those little life cycle creatures. :) You are doing some FUN stuff, girl.

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