Thursday, October 15, 2015

Top 3 Things I've Learned While Teaching About Insects!!

When teaching an almost month long unit about insects and keeping a small menagerie of creepy crawlies in the classroom you do tend to learn a few things.... 

Here are the top three things I learned while teaching about insects!

1. Kids are REALLY good at catching insects!

Now this might seem to be an obvious one but, let me tell you, once you've spent an entire free period scrounging around under rocks and in bushes for bugs, you really appreciate it when a pack of enthusiastic children catches 6 at recess time. 

To encourage this habit (and to preserve my planning time and sanity) we made some really simple bug catchers.

This project cost me nothing and the kids were EXTREMELY enthusiastic about it. 

If you aren't sure what tulle is, it's the stuff people make tutus out of. You can pick it up at a craft or fabric store for about a dollar a yard. I had some laying around from an old Halloween costume. 

I was soon inundated with insects. One of the cool things about living abroad is the different types of wildlife that you come across. One of my kids caught this whopper during morning recess!

This is a species of elephant beetle that is indigenous to the Latin American area. (Since I'm in Guatemala, we're smack in the middle of the range of these beetles.) We held onto this guy for two days. They are perfectly safe to hold and we passed him around the circle for those brave enough! (We only had one mini-panic when he tried to fly away.) Below you can see me handing off the bug to one of those brave souls. 

2. Some insects are surprisingly classroom friendly!

We were studying the life cycles of insects so I figured what could be more powerful than actually watching it happen in our classroom? I had never raised insects before so I was taking a leap of faith here. 

Welcome to the second grade insect menagerie!!

As you can see, we have mealworms and crickets. I picked these up from the local pet store. (Some Spanish for you: Crickets are grillos and mealworms are tenebrios. It took me weeks to get those into my head. I used to walk in and ask for insectos penquenos.) These two serve a dual purpose because I can feed them to our class pet, Larry the Leopard Gecko. The kindergartners found the grubs while they were out playing and generously gave them to us. 

If you are thinking of doing insect life cycles in your classroom, I recommend mealworms and here's why:

  • Mealworms are the easiest to take care of! Throw them in a container with some oats and a couple pieces of vegetable and they are good to go! 
  • They also don't bite, have no interest in escaping, and don't move very quickly.
  • Their life cycle has four very distinct stages and it's easy for the students to distinguish between the different stages.  
  • Crickets, while they make lovely chirping sounds during class, are Houdinis at escaping and they also make a mess in the cage. 
  • And the grubs are just creepy looking.


If you do decide to get some mealworms for your class, here's a good intro video!
Want to watch it bigger? Go to my youtube channel by clicking here!

3. Observations are key!!

My students LOVED looking at the bugs! We observed a few different insects as the hook before really getting into the unit. I created an observation sheet for the students to record what they were seeing. ANNNNNNND lucky for you, it's one of my FREEBIES! Click below to head over to my TPT store and snag it for yourself!

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All throughout the unit we continued to do observations. This is what we did will all of the insects that the students brought in! After we introduced some insect vocabulary the students naturally began using it during the observations.

Here it is in action!!

And those are the top 3 things I learned while teaching about insects! Thanks for reading and I hope you've found something here that will be useful in your own classroom!!

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