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1st grade insect unit



I am teaching an insect unit to 1st graders. Does anyone have any ideas on lessons that would be good?


insect unit

I have a song I teach to my first graders to help them remember the parts of an insect, forget where I learned it:

To the tune of Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes

Head and thorax, abdomen, abdomen
Head and thorax , abdomen, abdomen
Six legs, two antennae and compound eyes
Head and thorax, abdomen, abdomen

Have them touch their head, stomach (for thorax) and shake their behinds for the abdomen.

I also order caterpillars and we watch them change to butterflies.


Senior Member

I love your song. Unique!!!
• Order butterfly larvae and raise them in your
classroom. They will go from larvae to chrysalides and turn
into butterflies in approximately 3 weeks. You will receive the caterpillars in the mail. The caterpillars are contained in a plastic jar with their green food. The caterpillars are tiny and grow. They will crawl to the top of th jar, attach themselves to the paper disc on the lid and spin their chrysalis. Then you take off the paper disc and tape it to the cardboard butterfly house that comes with the kit. Wait for the butterflies to emerge. You can order painted lady butterfly larvae . from www.insectlore.com or call 1-800-LIVE BUG

”Butterflies are insects. They have two pairs of wings and two antennae. Like all insects, they have three pairs of legs and three body parts-the head, thorax and abdomen. There are thousands of different kinds of butterflies. Butterflies drink nectar from flowers with their probiscus (this is like a long skinny tongue that they roll out to use.) Butterflies and moths belong to the same insect family. Most butterflies are bright colored; most moths are dull color. Butterfly antennae have knob at the tips; moth antennae are either featherlike or plain. Butterflies fly mostly in the day; moths mostly fly at night. Butterflies form a chrysalis; moths make a cocoon.
Science: Teach students how butterflies use their probiscus to drink nectar. Use a hole punch to make a hole in the center of a flower shape. Tape the flower shape to the top of a small Dixie cup filled with sweet juice. You can also tape on leaves to the side of the little cup. Insert a straw. Tell children that the straw is their probiscus and they are sucking up the nectar.
Science: Teach children that a butterfly’s coloring helps to protect it from being eaten. The bright colors of a butterfly help it to hide among the flowers. Some butterflies even have markings on their wings that look like eyes to fake out predators. Have students color butterflies in assorted colors and have some students add eyes to the wing markings. When finished, hide the butterflies around the room so that the butterflies blend in with your décor. Students find their butterfly. Hang butterflies from the ceiling. Treats serve packets of fruit drink nectar. They kind you poke a straw in. Tell students that the straw is their probisus and they are sucking up the nectar.
• Create a class big book.
• Keep a butterfly growth journal. Note the date,
markings, size and length. Draw pictures of what you observe.
• Post a large Butterfly cutout. Label the parts of
the butterfly and explain their purpose to students.
Life Cycle of the Butterfly ---divide a paper plate in four sections. 1. paste a paper or real leaf and add the egg (a piece of rice, kernel of popcorn, or sunflower seed) label Egg. 2. glue on another leaf and glue on a piece of spiral pasta the worm, label Caterpillar. 3. glue a shell shape pasta, this represents the cocoon, label cocoon. 4. glue down a paper flower, or draw a flower or a silk flower and glue a piece of bow tie pasta on the flower, label butterfly.

Mrs. O

Senior Member
Here are a few ideas.

I believe the song is from Dr. Jean. www.drjean.org By the way, I attended one of her workshops and think this is a wonderful site.

Here are a few things I do:
  • I bought a Cooties game and have the children build an insect and label the correct parts.
  • We go on a bug hunt in our outdoor classroom. You could just take a walk around the neighborhood, if that is allowed, or go to the playground. I make them "catch and release" or draw a picture because I really don't like them in my classroom.
  • Review harmful vs. beneficial insects. The children should be able to name three of each type.
  • We focus on the various jobs of ants and bees in our unit. I have had a beekeeper bring his things to show the class. He also brought in honey samples. I looked up Beekeepers Association for our state, and went from there until I found someone willing to come speak to my class.
  • I decorate a raw egg to illustrate what an exoskeleton does.
Have fun!
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Life Cycle project

On poster sized paper I have the children glue 4 green leaves in a circle. On the first we glue grains of rice (butterfly eggs), on the second some fusili pasta spirals (caterpillars) on the third pasta shells (chrysalis) and on the last bowtie pasta they "painted" with markers to make the butterflies.