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Compiled By: Mrs. G

Here are some hands-on insect activities to go along with your insect unit of study. Your students will really enjoy learning about insects using some of these ideas!

View jointed legs of insects
Posted by: Bob

I store an insect in the teachers' refrigerator until classtime in a disposable container. This slows the insect down. I place it on the overhead with a transparent plastic lid covering--any disposable plastic covering works, but I've had best success with plastic covers of clocks (I make the best manipulatives from cheap clocks, also, prying off the plastic covers). The overhead magnifies the insect on the wall, and the insect is unharmed to be released after class.

Posted by: Pam/GA/1

I start the year with a big insect unit. We collect bugs, observe crickets I bring in, we read lots of insect books and make mini-books, we read Grouchy Ladybug and make ladybug clocks. We sequence the story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, we watch the magic schoolbus video "inside a bee hive" and make a bee handpuppet, we make edible bugs out of peanut butter play dough and candy pieces (must have 3 body parts and 6 legs),I start with what is an insect, do ladybugs, then butterfly life cycle, then social insects(bees and ants -love "2 bad ants" by Chris VanAllsburg for point of view and "Hey, Ant" for graphing) then harmful vs. helpful insects. The whole thing takes about 4 weeks.

insects & bugs
Posted by: chris

I did a unit with 3 to 5 year olds a few weeks ago. One thing we did was make a progressive book, adding a new line to each page and drawing the appropriate picture. I got the idea from another web site.
Page 1: "An insect has 3 body parts." (draw a tri-sectioned bug)Page 2: "An insect has 3 body parts. An insect has 6 legs." (draw tribod with legs). Pg 3: "An An insect...legs. An insect has 2 antennae." (draw as before but w/antennae) Pg 4: "An insect...antennae. Most insects have 2 eyes." (draw)Pg 5: "An insect...eyes. Some insects have wings." (draw) "An insect...wings. This is my insect." (draw)
Kids got to make their insects out of playdough as well & get their picture taken with it using the digital camera.
We also did a companion unit on spiders, because they ARE NOT insects at all!
Want more info? e-mail me!

Insect crafts and ideas
Posted by: Karine

1. Clothespin Butterflies:You could make clothespin butterflies. All you need are clothespins, googly eyes, tissue paper, pipecleaners, and glue stick. You will need to pre-cut the pipecleaners(legs)about 2 inches long (3 per child) and also the tissue paper into 15 cm X 15cm squares. The kids simply need to stick the googly eyes on the top of the end where you grasp objects. They then put the tissue paper and the pipecleaner legs in the grasping part of the clothespin. They can then decorate the tissue paper wings with glitter, ink stamps, etc.

2. Bug Pizzas: Read the story "Sam's Pizza" by David Pelham. You could then have the kids make "bug pizzas". You would need Pizza Hut personal pan pizza boxes, construction paper (yellow=crust,red=sauce,brown=pepperoni,green=green peppers, and white=mushrooms), pictures of insects photocopied, and glue sticks. You could pre-cut the crust,sauce,toppings or have the kids do it themselves. After they've made their pizza, they can glue it into the pizza box. You then use these crafts for role-play of the story.

3.Story: Billy's Beetle by Mick Inkpen. Cute story for this theme.

4. Craft: Antennae Headbands. You will need bristol board and construction paper. The bristol board is for the headband, the construction paper for the antennae and circles at the end of the atennae. The kids can decorate with markers, glitter, etc.

Insects and social studies
Posted by: cgreen


Japanese art uses insect and butterfly themes a great deal. If the kids could try their hands at, say, brush painting, or illustrate poems they've written about bugs in a Japanese style...

I can't think of an art link right now, but a lot of cultures have and do use bugs as foods, coloring agents, pets (both Italians and Chinese have kept crickets in cages as pets and good luck tokens), medicines, etc. Maybe they could make cricket cages?

Depending on how sophisticated you want to get, you could show them some of the work done by eighteenth or nineteenth century scientists who started to classify insects, and perhaps show them some of the illustrations from that era of science history.

Posted by: ck

I've done a spider unit to compliment an insect unit, so we learned the difference between the two. We would make a progressive type of book for each, in which children would draw their own spider or insects. The pages for insect read:

page 1: An insect has 3 body parts (child draws 3 body parts connected)
page 2: An insect has 3 body parts. An insect has 6 legs. (draw 3 part body w/6 legs)
page 3: An insect has 3 .... An insect has 2 antennae (draw it)
page 4: An insect...3 body parts.. 6 legs... 2 antennae....Some insects have wings.
page 5: (repeat above)....This is my insect.

We'd also read "In the Tall, Tall Grass" and then do a picture on blue construction paper: bottom third is covered w/green construction paper that has been "snipped" and curled around a pencil to represent grass. Flowers are drawn in to grow out of the grass. Each child is then given a variety of bug, insect & spider stickers that they add to their grass & flowers.

Good Luck!

insect project
Posted by: Amy

My 2nd graders make an insect for a project. The requirements are 6 legs, 3 body parts, anntenea. The students also have to have written or typed 2 unusual facts and share them with the class for the oral part of the grade. They are very creative with the facts as well as what they make their insect out of!

Draw an Insect
Posted by: Sue W.

After the kids were familiar with parts of an insect we played a "Draw an Insect" game. Each pair or team had die (single dice) or a spinner with 6 numbers and a list:

1. head
2. thorax,
3 abdomen
4. antenna or wing
5. eye or mouth
6. leg

Each kid had a piece of paper. When a player tossed or spun a number they could draw one of the appropriate part/parts. If they already had a part, head for example, they missed a turn. They had to get two antennae, 6 legs and so on. The first to finish their insect was the winner. This is fun and reinforces vocabulary and facts.

Insect research workshop
Posted by: m&mTeach

A few years ago (when I taught 2nd) I did an Insect Research Workshop.
I had 5 student groups. Each table was researching a different insect, as I was modeling with ladybugs.

For every lesson, I would model researching a different area of a ladybug.
Lesson 1: Physical characteristics (with a diagram)
Lesson 2: Life Cycle
Lesson 3: Diet
Lesson 4: Defenses
Lesson 5: Interesting Facts

Each minilesson consisted of a shared reading and producing a web or a diagram of the important information I learned. I would then send out my students to do the same with their insect. They had books and different printouts from the internet I had collected. Because students were working in groups of 4 and because we were all working on similar content, it was very supportive for students (ex. same bank of words- thorax, abdomen, etc).

At the end of the second week, kids put together a little minibook with the information they collected.

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2nd grade insects
Posted by: Angel Star

I teach second grade and we did this:

1. Every insect has...we made clay grasshoppers with all the parts.
2. Went on a field trip to local nature center-caught and released bugs.
3. Went on a field trip to The Butterfly Pavilion (they got to hold cockroaches and a tarantula - gross!!!)
4. Flip Book research project on an insect - Physical Characteristics, Where it Lives, What it Eats, Interesting Facts, Life Cycle

That's all I can remember!

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Posted by: Toni

We are raising mealworms into darkling beetles. The kids think it's awesome. We do observations 3x weekly.

To help us get into the spirit of Earth Day, we designed our own insects using recycled materials.

I use some of the materials from enchanted

For listening centers, we do Crickwing by Janell Cannon; the Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle; The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle; and the non-fiction book Born To Be A Butterfly (I don't know who the author is) I record it into Sound Studio & burn the CDs of me reading the book to the kids.

Hope this helps.

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ending report
Posted by: teach4fun

We do an insect / butterfly unit as well. We do a lot of things, but the one they love is the insect report at the end of the unit. We have them catch an insect (good thing is spiders are not ) and draw it on a paper and have them write a 5 sentence report on how they caught it, where they found it, and two interesting facts about their insect. The cool part is they bring in the insect in a SEALED container. (it is ok if it dies) and we release them in our gardens out side our classroom. Yes it may be gross to you, but it is the best day for the kids. They just love bringing in and sharing what they found and presenting their report to the class. I have half do it on one day and then we release and then the other half the next. We have had no problems (stings, escapes, or lost insects) in the 5 years I have been doing this project. I take a picture of each of them to send home with the report after I have graded it. .
Have a great time, if you need anything else let me know

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Posted by: bertie

We do a bug unit that is about 2 weeks long. We raise the butterflies, incorporate songs, poems, storybooks, and videos. We include some centres during that week that you might enjoy trying. One that I like has the kids go on Kid Pix and design the head, thorax and abdomen using the oval tools, and pour in some wonderful paint effects. We print it off and they cut the 3 body parts out and put the bug together. We have tracers for wings (waxed paper or laminating film work great) and they can add different kinds of legs, antennae, and eye stickers. Then they write a free verse poem describing their bug, and name it.

In small groups they go to the library where the group is helped by the librarian to research info about one assigned bug. They write their reports a bug shape I got from a Mailbox magazine, then come back and share what they've learned with the rest of the class. Over 5 days everyone gets a chance to do this with a different bug, so they can experience investigation and reports.

Another group is a listening activity, as we have a tape with stories and songs about bug colors and camoflauge. Then they color different bugs on an activity sheet that goes with the tape. A math activity we've adapted includes ladybugs of different colors (lady bugs come in red, yellow and orange), They graph how many of each color were in their container, and then make a pattern with their ladybugs.

In art we make dragonfly wings on coffee filter paper (with washable markers and know) and of course use butterfly wings to teach symmetry. We create a ladybug out of construction paper, including the underwings out of waxed paper hidden under the wing cases. We glue that ladybug on a big green leaf and add a poem we learned about ladybugs.

Of course we study metamorphisis (complete and partial). We make models of that process using pasta shapes on green leaves. And we learn about the different mouth parts using a sponge, medicine dropper, straw and pliars as models. I guess you can tell I enjoy this unit.

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Posted by: Lori V.

This is all I can think probably because I am not a big insect fan. I showed my class a cicada picture and they almost passed out...LOL

1. Paper Mache insects
2. Make thumb prints into bugs
3. Bug window sun catchers use wax paper and crayon shavings iron with an iron
4. Make dirt cups as a snack/craft
5. Make bug "houses" decorate to put bugs in

Insect and Bugs
Posted by: Darci

I teach first grade and we are not only wrapping up the end of the school year, but the end of our caterpillar / insect unit.

We order caterpillars and raise them to the butterfly stage and then have a huge Butterfly Release Day complete with songs, poems and fingerplays. We make a Caterpillar Data book in which we put dittos, information, and drawings in (a folder) so that the students have something to take home that is full of actual information.

Our caterpillar habitats are 2-liter Pepsi (or any clear bottle)....we place a paper towel in the bottom, a stick, a straw with a small plastic ketchup cup (from a fast food restaurant) with a sponge in it......we mix sugar and water in a bottle and feed the butterflies by squirting the liquid through the straw into the cup on the sponge. There is netting over the top held in place with a rubber band. (You would have to choose your insects carefully, but these make great (and inexpensive) habitats that the children can easily see into!)

We read Eric Carle's The Hungry Caterpillar. Then we colored a large caterpillar (for them to retell the story with). We cut them out and I attached a baggy to the back of their caterpillar. They colored the food that the caterpillar in the story had eaten (along with a small butterfly) and as I read the story, they placed the pieces in their caterpillar's stomach (the baggy). They loved it and it was an easy puppet!

My puppet for this story is a green sock with eyes hot glued to the toe. I cut out and laminated the food that the caterpillar ate through and had a hole cut in the middle of each large enough for my hand to go through. As I told the story this year, I had a child place the sock on his hand. As I read, I placed the food on his hand and onto his arm so that it looked like the caterpillar had eaten it. At the end, I had a butterfly large enough to cover the food and the green sock was then the butterfly's head.

This week we did a fun craft to go along with Eric Carle's book, The Grouchy Ladybug. (For each child), I took two black plated and turned them wrong-side out (the body). I stapled them together on two sides only (opposite of each other). I then one red plate and cut it in half (wings). The students cut out black dots and glued them on the wings (semetrically). When they were done, I took a SMALL paperpunch and punched through the top black plate (at an open end) and through both red wings....connected them with a brass fastener and then once out the socks (this time white with eyes on the toe). The students put the sock on, then placed their arm through the black plates......and they had a ladybug puppet.

We also made ladybug headbands by drawing a circle on a piece of paper and then showing them step-by-step how to draw and color a simple ladybug. We stapled them onto a strip of paper that went around their head......and also paperpunched two holes at the top of the ladybug and ran a piece of pipe cleaner through both so that they became the antenna!

Bug Report
Posted by: Amy in NC

We have our first graders do a report each year. We have them pick their favorite insect and find two facts about it. We tell them it can be where they found their insect, or what they eat or cool facts from books or the internet. We ask for two good first grade sentences and they are given a sheet of paper to draw a pic of their insect. We also go one step further and let them bring in their insect. It is the coolest day for them getting to bring a bug to school. We then go out and release all the insects into our butterfly garden. The cockroaches I release near the street and the bees I release away from the children. It is a great day!!!

imaginary insect
Posted by: dish

When you compact your curriculum you are meeting many standards in the same lesson. Suppose your LA literature has a focus on insects. After reading stories the natural extension is to investigate insect adaptions.

The lesson you might assign to your students is for small groups to create an imaginary insect with pattern blocks, naming the insect and insect parts. This meets so many standards! In math, the students are using shapes and patterns. In science, they are applying an understanding of insects and physical features. In language arts, the learners are creating names based on prior knowledge and diagramming and labeling features. In social studies and character education, they are making decisions as a team what to create, taking turns, participating in the outcome, and hopefully using polite behaviors!

You can extend this type of learning with graphs, creative writing, and personal evaluation of team involvement. Good stuff! Hope that helps!

Insect interview
Posted by: KT

How about if you pretend to be a flower that a bee is buzzing around for nectar and pollen and you quiz him as he buzzes around and lands on you. You could wear a hat with artificial flowers on it and a bees swarming overhead connected to little thin wires.

insect point of view
Posted by: Joan

Students choose a character (an insect) and setting with which to write a narrative from that insect's point of view. The kids get really creative and come up with some very clever ideas. One I remember best took place at the beach and the bug described the sand as millions of boulders.

Posted by: susan

I love teaching about insects!!! I always have my students do insect collections in shoe boxes with styrofoam at the bottom. I make their boxes. My bulletin board usually reads simply, "Let's Get Buggy" and the kids create bugs of their own with construction paper. They must include all major parts of a bug. Have fun! What a buggy year with the cicadas around!!!

bugs and insects
Posted by: Amy

I teach a summer class on bugs and insects and one thing I've done is talk about symmetry on butterflies. They we either have to color a butterfly so it's symmetrical or paint one side and fold it in half. Another thing I've done is we go to a local park close to school and look for insects. The kids love it. I also like to use The Very Hungry Caterpillar as a starting off point. I have also brought in bugs that I have caught (and killed with fingernail polish remover) and had the kids find out what kind of bug it is in bug books. This year we made click beetles out of clothes pins (a picture of a beetle, colored, glued on to the clothes pin) and had contests to see who's beetle could "jump" the farthest.

Posted by: emme

Have you thought of raising butterflies from caterpillars in your room? It's usually very successful and interesting. Praying mantis are also very interesting - except that they do eat each other!!

There is a lot your kids can do in groups, like research unusual insects and present the info to the group. I found an interesting lesson on the 4 different mouth parts of insects; by using an eyedropper, straw, sponge and scissors you can demonstrate the specialized mouth parts of the mosquito, butterfly, housefly and grasshopper.

Would you like a song? To the tune of "Head and Shoulders";
Head and Thorax, Abdomen
Head and Thorax, Abdomen
Six legs, two antennae
and a pair of floppy wings,
Head and thorax, abdomen.

I have also done a similar project to the above poster, where the children design their own bug, but I've let them choose from my home made tracers for different bodies, heads, wings and legs - they trace on buggy paper from the teachers store, and the wings on wax paper, add their own antennae. We use them to inspire cool free verse poetry later. Hope these ideas help.

Insect Lessons
Posted by: Sue

There are some wonderful resources on insects. One is called Critters by AIMS. I use many of their ideas. The other is Incredible Insects by National Wildlife, but I think Scholastic might be publishing it now.

One thing I do often, is buy mealworms, have the kids measure them, keep a journal and observe them. The kids LOVE them. I have also bought crickets, and they have observed them, counted their legs, drawn and labelled them. Another idea is to go outdoors for an "insect scavenger hunt" Make a grid, and put in instructions like: Find an insect who has made its home in the sidewalk. Find an insect that can fly. Find an insect that is camoflauged.