Children develop their early understanding of insects from books, movies, and the adults in their lives. Unfortunately, insects in works of fiction aren't always portrayed with scientific accuracy, and adults may pass down their own misconceptions about insects. This unit will teach children basic concepts about insects through the process of hand-on experimentation and discovery!
Bugs! Bugs! Bugs! Children posses the qualities that are required for a good scientist- curiosity, keen observation, use of all of their senses as they explore, and a sincere eagerness to learn about the world around them. Insects are found everywhere, and therefore are a great focus for a science unit for students, their families and teachers. The specimens are easily acquired and not very difficult to manage in the classroom or at home.
The idea of looking at insects is important in helping children to understand how the ecological balance and the survival of the planet depend on nature and all living things. The fact that insects like the ant, butterfly and ladybug can be found in our neighborhood allows for continued learning for a lifetime. We never seem to get tired of watching as a ladybug crawls over leaves and then takes flights. The mysteries of nature engage people if all ages, ethnicities and levels of education.
Activity 1 in this guide introduces the information about insects by asking the question, “What is an insect?” which engages the children in a discussion that allows them to tap into prior knowledge about what they know and lets the instructor know what misconceptions the student might have about insects.
Activity 2 focuses on what makes an insect an insect and teaches children about unique body parts insects have and compare them to other animals, and even themselves! The children will label and assemble the 3 body parts of an insect and establish the all important idea that insects have 3 pairs of legs for a total of six, antennae and some even have wings!
Next, children will learn about the life cycle of an insect. In Activity 3 they will construct life cycle models to reinforce the concept that all living things have a cycle of life they go through, even them! In addition, students will be introduced to one insect in particular, the butterfly and through discovery and hands on projects and observations, will learn about the life cycle of the butterfly and in turn relate what they’ve learned to other insects (ants, ladybugs).
Lastly, in Activity 4, students will be challenged to invent an insect! This is an open-ended exploration that allows students to design, plan and create a unique insect that has never been seen before. Creativity is encouraged as they continue to demonstrate scientific facts about insects.