April 12, 2016

Entomology and Ladybug Inquiry (First Grade)

Insect Inquiry

What matters in learning is not to be taught, but to wake up! ~Jean-Henri Fabre
We've come so close to wrapping up our spring unit on entomology--and I have to say, I think it's been both the students' as well as my favorite unit we've dived into this year. 

Insect Inquiry

We began by documenting what we already knew about insects followed by our wonders and questions. The students as a whole had an especial interest in one of their peer's wonder: How does a larva become a ladybug? This would later be the wonder we as a class zoomed in on in greater depth, but we continued to look at insects generally for a few more days.

Insect Inquiry
This lead to reading several read-alouds where we learned about six different insects and documented specific attributes and characteristics of each one: praying mantis, fireflies, bees, ants, and ladybugs.

Insect Anchor Charts

Insect Anchor Charts

This unit fell right in the middle of our two language arts units on inferring and synthesizing texts. When we practiced these skills as a whole class we used a combination of fiction and non-fiction books on insects: The Bee Tree by Patricia Polacco, The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle, A Beetle is Shy by Diane Aston, Ladybug at Orchard Avenue by Kathleen Zoehfeld, and Ladybugs by Gail Gibbons.

Insect Word Wall
Our insect word wall as a writing and reading resource for students

One of our mentor texts was a book called Small Wonders: Jean-Henri Fabre and His World of Insects by Matthew Clark Smith (Purchase on Amazon) on the life of entomologist Jean-Henri Fabre. We learned that Fabre's love of insects started early in his life as a child and how he would collect and closely observe insect specimens. He would draw these insects in great detail in the journals he kept. Each child then made an entomology journal of their own to practice, like Fabre, drawing insects of their choice in detail using photograph we found from media resources and plastic insect models we had in our nature center. Students also labeled the main body parts on each of their insect drawings.

Insect Inquiry

Students also got the opportunity to sculpt insects using clay!

Insect Inquiry

Insect Inquiry

Insect Inquiry

One of our insect centers had an activity where students got to create their own insect with the stipulation that their insects had to include the particular body parts all insects have (see student samples and other insect center ideas by clicking here).

Insect Hotel

We created insect hotels (STEAM project) one rainy afternoon...

Insect Hotel

One of our recent STEAM projects came out of our entomology unit: insect hotels. After seeing dozens of elaborate insect hotels in my own Pinterest feed, I decided to try and find a way to let me students build a mini one during one of our afternoon science blocks. We had been reading about insects and their habitats, so we collected our research on what we had learned attracted really beneficial insects. Pine cones, dry leaves, branches, bark, and--yes--even straws--these were the (primarily) natural materials we gathered to arrange into snug nooks and crannies in tin cans to create these mini-homes for our insect friends.

Insect Hotel

And here's a finished one...

Insect Hotel

We tied ours up with Baker's Twine to be hung, and the students got to take them home to find a garden for them.

Insect Inquiry

Hands-down the coolest part of this unit was watching live ladybugs develop as a class! Each day we observed our ladybugs from larva to pupa, to fully grown, we documented our observations together as a class. When they were finally grown we released them out in our school garden.

The culminating project for this unit had the students creating a diorama habitat for a ladybug using shoeboxes and various art materials. After they completed the habitat, they made models of each stage of the ladybug's life cycle by molding beeswax as we witnessed our ladybugs grow.

Insect Inquiry

A couple of habitats created by students with their wax models:

Insect Inquiry

Insect Inquiry

Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf...
~Thoreau
Additionally, here are just a few of the morning work activities that have deepened our learning:

Insect Inquiry

#1. See, Think, Wonder Thinking Routine: Pick an insect related object (I had honeycomb and part of a wasps nest) for kids to examine up-close. I put out magnifying glasses and related books as well for the students to use too. Then they use the I see, think, and wonder paper to help guide them in their observation independently (can be found here for printing). 
 
Insect Inquiry

#2. Simple Sculpting: Stick Bugs: In two jars put out small sticks and then pipe cleaners for students to manipulate into creating a stick bug. Most of my students immediately went hunting for a pair of scissors to cut the pipe cleaners into various shape and sizes to make their insect. When they finished they were then able to free write and draw about their new little friend.

Spring Bug Syllables

#3. Spring into Syllables: This is an activity I found over at Mrs. Jone's Creation Station. Children dig through to find different insect word to break apart into syllables. I created this half sheet graphic organizer for students to stay on track with that activity you can download and print here for free.

Insect Inquiry

#4. Insect Symmetry: This insect unit happened to be timed pretty well with our math lessons on symmetry making a great integration point in the curriculum. For extra practice in the morning, I printed out a variety of different insects (found here) that students could draw the other half of their bodies. If you have a light table and your students need more help then just trying to free draw, by all means--track down some tracing paper to have them use with it.

Insect Inquiry

#5. Invent an Insect: This is an activity idea from Mrs. Miners TPT store. After having read in a class lesson about the various parts of an insect, students are then asked to invent their own unique creepy crawler, but they have to include the body parts that all insects have--the rest is up to you! Here was a couple of invented creature from Room 14 students:

Insect Inquiry

Insect Inquiry
Insect Inquiry

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