Wednesday 18 January 2017

Aussie Fauna Silkworms {Review}

Silkworms have been a part of my childhood so when I saw an add on Facebook for Aussie Fauna Silkworms I just had to contact them to find out more.  This review has taken Paul and I down memory lane for the last couple of months and provided practical life cycle observation for Nathaniel.  As a child it was something we used to do annually at school and I was pretty pleased that we had a huge Mulberry tree in our back yard. This activity at school was one we did among ourselves and had nothing to do with school.  It was purely driven among the students and it contains such fond memories that it's an experience I've wanted my children to enjoy.  Upon further research at Aussie Fauna Silkworms I discovered their Silkworms in the Classroom Program and after chatting to them they blessed our family with a Premium Teacher's Pack to review.

Aussie Fauna Silkworm Life Cycle Kit Review

What we received
Premium Teacher's Pack Includes:
  • 100 Silkworm EggsThese eggs have been wintered and are ready to develop into silkworms. 
  • 500g Silkworm chow - Chow is a powdered form of mulberry leaves from Europe and contains the highest nutritional value for your Silkworms and is available all year round. This product makes looking after your silkworms super easy if you do not have access to a Mulberry tree.  It is easy to make.  You mix with water and cook.  Feeding the worms involves piping some chow into their container for consumption.
  • Customized book: Silkworm Life-cycle Lessons and Activities Plan: Linked to the Australian National Teaching Curriculum -
  • A1(59.4 cm x 84.1 cm) sized Silkworm Life Cycle Poster -This poster is a gorgeous full colour poster printed on high quality paper.  It contains a combination of actual photographs and drawings of the six stages of the life cycle of a Silkworm along with a short sentence about each stage.
  • Piping bag for silkworm chow - This is made of a strong durable thick plastic
  • Petri dish to hatch eggs - our worms and kego lived in here for the first week after hatching.
  • Plastic mesh for kego (baby silkworms) transfer between feeding.  Full instructions are contained in the book and the care sheet.
  • Hatching/care instructions A4 sheet. This sheet contains photo instructions on how to use the mesh and silkworm chow on one side and care instructions on the other.
  • Available support throughout duration of classroom project.
Aussie Fauna was established in 2012.  All the silkworms are bred in a veterinary approved facility here in Australia ensuring that the eggs and worms are all well cared for and in excellent health.

How we used our kit
Our kit arrived within 48 hours of ordering via courier delivery.  The kit contained everything we needed to raise the silkworms including a quick start guide to help us know what to do with our worms once they hatched and a food source. Caring for silkworms is a relatively easy process and once the worms are a little bigger easy for the children to participate in their care. We read the quick start guide which contained all the information we needed on silk worm care and feeding. The only item we had to provide was a shoe box.  We also collected a couple of toilet rolls and egg boxes for the worms to spin their cocoons in. We learned that silkworms need an environmental temperature of around 25 - 27 degrees Celsius and approximately 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness to develop well.  It was fun watching them wake up when we opened up the box each morning.

I would like to share a photo journal of our silkworm life cycle journey.

The eggs arrived in a petri dish along with a wire mesh to use with the Silkworm Chow.  We took our eggs along with us on holidays and found a mulberry tree near our accommodation. As the day for hatching got closer we added a small mulberry leaf to the Petri dish. There were over 100 eggs around 2 mm in diameter.

Newly hatched silkworm which is known as a kego. (29 October 2016)
They are the tinniest worms (kego) I have ever seen! They hatch hungry and eat so very much.  We were stunned at how quickly they consumed the leaves we added to the dish every day.  In fact they grew so quickly that we could look at them in the morning and see a difference in them by lunch time.
Silkworm eggs after hatching along with plenty of frass.

4 days old - Ravenous Silkworm babies (2 November)

Their care involved removing the leaf skeletons and frass (droppings) and adding in fresh leaves. We had almost 150 silkworms.
4 days old - 2 November 2016
Caring for them when they were super tiny was easy. We placed fresh mulberry leaves on top of their depleted food source. They would climb onto the new leaf and eat their way around. We would remove the new leaf with the babies and then clean out their container. We used a paintbrush to remove any stragglers.

The most interesting part of the whole process was watching their exponential growth and it was not long before they graduated to a cardboard shoe box.

30 days old - 28 November 2016

The quantity of food and exponential growth is staggering. Paul made a time lapse of them eating a leaf in ten minutes. Whenever we gave them fresh leaves to consume you could actually hear them eating!

At a month old the head and six legs


Silkworm Skin
38 days old the first worm was ready to start spinning (6 December)

Collecting fresh mulberry leaves became a daily adventure. On day 38 (6 weeks) our first worm began to spin. It was so very exciting. We removed the worm from the shoe box and placed it in an egg container so it had three points of contact in order to anchor it's thread to enable it to spin a cocoon. Some of our worms took almost two weeks longer to reach this point.

Upon completing the cocoon it's time to de-floss and remove the extra bits of silk and store the cocoons.

De-flossed cocoons

Hatched three weeks later.

Mating Silkworm Moths (28 December)

We learned so much watching the life cycle of the Silkworms. I have a few more photographs about our journey which I will be sharing next week.

About the book
  • This book is a soft cover book 
  • Written by Sarah Tuckfield and Dr. Brett De Poister  
  • ISBN 978-0-646-96090-6
  • Linked to The Australian National Teaching Curriculum.  
  • Divided into different school year levels
  • Full Colour photography is throughout the book.  Beautiful enlarged photographs of every stage of the silkworm life cycle.
  • Contains:
    • Introduction 
    • A care sheet- Here you are given information on the food, environment, hygiene, growth, cocconing, reproduction, eggs, egg care, wintering and how to feed the newly hatched silkworms.
    • Quick Guide - This is a one page summary of the information found in the care sheet area. 
    • Life Cycle information
    • Lesson Plans- Each lesson plan provides you with: Approximate Time needed,  an introduction, Activity, Conclusion, Extension, Key Scientific Knowledge, Technology Extension and Resource list. The lesson plans are divided into school year levels (Pre-school to Year 6) and there are useful internet links throughout.
    • Silkworm Features
    • Differences between Silkworms and Moths
    • Shelters for Silkworms
    • Silk Production (Sericulture)
    • Pre Schooling Activities
    • Online Resources 
    • Useful YouTube and internet links.
  •  Every section contains practical hands on actives and ideas for you to use depending on the age group you are working with.
  • Fun Facts about Silkworms.  I found this list particularly interesting.  Did you know that there are no silkworms left in the wild ?  It takes 6,500 cocoons to produce one kilogram of silk! 
Nathaniel and I enjoyed reading from this book and following the links to different YouTube videos.
Connect with Aussie Fauna Silkworms 
Our Thoughts
What a fabulous hands on journey we have experienced.  The Aussie Fauna Silkworms team were amazing and answered any questions we had.  They touched base with us regularly to find out if we needed any help and were always willing to answer any questions we had no matter what it was.  We highly recommend you investing in a kit whether you are homeschooling or teaching in a public school setting.

Win a Premium Teachers Pack and receive a 10% discount coupon
For your chance to win a Premium Teachers Pack be sure to head on over to Facebook and comment/share this post from Aussie Fauna Silkworms - Bringing in The New Year with a Term 1 GIVEAWAY and FREE VOUCHERS!!! The winner will be announced at 8pm the Sunday after the post on Facebook receives 300 Shares or on January 29th 2017, whichever comes first.

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