Exploring Bugs, Bugs, Bugs!
Young scientists investigate bug body parts.
- Grades: PreK–K
Play dough or self-hardening clay
Art materials, including construction paper, tissue paper, markers, glue, scissors, yarn, and pipe cleaners
Set Up and Prepare
Read many books about insects. Have specimens and pictures for children to look at in your learning centers. Discuss the fact that scientists that study insects are called entomologists. What do they look for? Explain to the children that all insects go by the “3 + 3 rule”; three parts of the body (head, thorax, and abdomen) and three pairs of legs. Show the children this rule using a picture or specimen.
Step 1: Explain to the children that they will be entomologists for the morning. They are going on an insect hunt together. Ask where they think they would find insects. Where would they hide if they were insects? Tell them that they will observe insects in their natural habitats. Stress to the children that they should not harm the insects, that they are scientists observing them in the field. Ask them to watch the way the insects move. What colors are they? How big are they? Look for the 3 + 3 rule.
Step 2: Take children outdoors to search for insects. Give each child a magnifying glass, which will help narrow their field of vision and focus their attention on a small area. Encourage children to share what they find with one other. Be sure to repeatedly use the scientific names for the body parts in order to build vocabulary. Ask them to specifically look for the head, thorax, and abdomen.
Step 3: Once back inside, have a group discussion about the insects. Make a chart with a list of insects the children found, and the information they collected. Did the 3 + 3 rule help them identify insects?
Step 4: Invite the children to create an insect of their choice. Have a variety of art materials available, so children can choose which medium they would like to use. They should try to show the 3 + 3 rule in the insect they create. If they like, children can label the parts of their insect or dictate the labels to you.
Step 5: Provide a place in the classroom to display their work. Children may share their project with each other as partners or at a classwide sharing time. This will help reinforce the children’s vocabulary words and knowledge.
Remember: Some children may be afraid of bugs. Be respectful and let them observe with you or a friend. Also, children of this age may become so absorbed in creating their own bug that they make more legs or body parts would be accurate. This is completely acceptable. Talk with the child about the various body parts and legs, and reinforce the vocabulary you are teaching.
Send home a note explaining to parents that children have been learning about insects. Ask them to go on an insect walk with their child. If they like, they can bring a container with air holes in the lid so the child can take an insect home. Parents should encourage their child to share the 3 + 3 rule and any other information they have with their family. Suggest that they draw or paint a picture of the insect together.
Curriculum Connection: Music
Write this song on large chart paper:
(sung to the tune of “Brother John”)
I’m an insect, I’m an insect,
With three body parts, with three body parts.
Head, thorax, abdomen. Head, thorax, abdomen.
And six legs, and six legs.
Sing it through a few times, then invite children to sing along with you. Ask for volunteers to make up hand or body movements to go with the words.