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May 17, 2019

A Fresh Take on an Insect Investigation for PreK

By Deborah Stewart

Kick off a great lesson by asking questions!

Grades PreK–K

    Key Takeaways

    • Spark rich and meaningful conversations by asking early learners an open-ended question.
    • Asking good questions will help you discover what your students already know about a given topic.
    • Following up your conversations with real-life outdoor experiences is a natural next step in scaffolding children’s understanding and interest in the topics you share with them.

    My Kids Love Insects!

    My students love to spend time outside looking for bugs. When I opened the latest My Big World edition and saw that it was all about insects, I was thrilled! Perfect timing for the season and a perfect way to tie in meaningful conversation with a topic my students are deeply interested in.

    We Talked About Insects and Explored the Magazine

    As soon as I handed the children their copies of Backyard Insects, the conversation was up and running: “That’s a ladybug.” “Bees have stingers.” “I got stung by a bee once at my grandma’s house.”

    We decided to take out our magnifying glasses to take a closer look at each of the insects in My Big World magazine.

    With magnifying glasses in hand, we settled in and talked our way through the magazine together. Each box on the page had a question that inspired discussion. The questions encouraged children to reflect on their own encounters with insects.

    • Have you ever felt a mosquito bite?
    • Have you ever seen a firefly flash?
    • Have you ever heard a bee buzz?

    The Benefits of Questions

    Starting our conversations off with the questions shared in our magazine gives me two great benefits:

    • First, I find out what the children already know about insects, which helps me tune into what they find most interesting and would like to know more about.

    • Second, a good question also helps me to guide the conversation as we make our way through each type of insect the children see. It was easy to find good open-ended questions because every square in our magazine had a question ready for me to read to the children. All I had to do was give them time to tell me their answers. They had lots of them!

    We ended our discussion by working our way through the last page of our magazine together. We counted legs, drew our own legs and tried to figure out which critter was really an insect. My students were thrilled to see a worm on the page because we have been finding lots of worms in our outdoor play area.

    We Headed Outside to Explore

    After exploring insects by reading and discussion, we grabbed our magnifying glasses and headed outside for a little real-life insect exploration of our own. Anytime we can integrate a reading experience with a real-life outdoor experience, it’s a win!

    The children went to work searching for insects around the play area. What do you think they found in just a few quick minutes? More worms!

    Although the most meaningful way to follow up our discussion on insects was to get outside and explore real insects, I also put together some indoor explorations to keep the conversations going.

    I Set Up a Discover Table

    On the discover table, I set out some insect cards and discovery bottles as a way to keep our discussion on insects going once we were inside the classroom. The bottles were filled with water and plastic insects that matched each of our cards on the table.

    On the art table, I set out clay for our older children, play dough for our younger children and more plastic insects. The children pressed the insects into the clay or play dough to form prints.

    Exploring insects through My Big World was a fabulous way to kick off an entire unit on insects. My students loved it and I did too!

    If you’re looking for a way to bring fun, hands-on lessons like these into your classroom, I highly recommend trying My Big World for yourself. Sign up for a FREE 30-day trial and discover how My Big World can help you engage students in seasonal lessons all year long

    —Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed., is blogger and early-childhood educator in Indiana who writes the popular blog Teach Preschool.

    Key Takeaways

    • Spark rich and meaningful conversations by asking early learners an open-ended question.
    • Asking good questions will help you discover what your students already know about a given topic.
    • Following up your conversations with real-life outdoor experiences is a natural next step in scaffolding children’s understanding and interest in the topics you share with them.

    My Kids Love Insects!

    My students love to spend time outside looking for bugs. When I opened the latest My Big World edition and saw that it was all about insects, I was thrilled! Perfect timing for the season and a perfect way to tie in meaningful conversation with a topic my students are deeply interested in.

    We Talked About Insects and Explored the Magazine

    As soon as I handed the children their copies of Backyard Insects, the conversation was up and running: “That’s a ladybug.” “Bees have stingers.” “I got stung by a bee once at my grandma’s house.”

    We decided to take out our magnifying glasses to take a closer look at each of the insects in My Big World magazine.

    With magnifying glasses in hand, we settled in and talked our way through the magazine together. Each box on the page had a question that inspired discussion. The questions encouraged children to reflect on their own encounters with insects.

    • Have you ever felt a mosquito bite?
    • Have you ever seen a firefly flash?
    • Have you ever heard a bee buzz?

    The Benefits of Questions

    Starting our conversations off with the questions shared in our magazine gives me two great benefits:

    • First, I find out what the children already know about insects, which helps me tune into what they find most interesting and would like to know more about.

    • Second, a good question also helps me to guide the conversation as we make our way through each type of insect the children see. It was easy to find good open-ended questions because every square in our magazine had a question ready for me to read to the children. All I had to do was give them time to tell me their answers. They had lots of them!

    We ended our discussion by working our way through the last page of our magazine together. We counted legs, drew our own legs and tried to figure out which critter was really an insect. My students were thrilled to see a worm on the page because we have been finding lots of worms in our outdoor play area.

    We Headed Outside to Explore

    After exploring insects by reading and discussion, we grabbed our magnifying glasses and headed outside for a little real-life insect exploration of our own. Anytime we can integrate a reading experience with a real-life outdoor experience, it’s a win!

    The children went to work searching for insects around the play area. What do you think they found in just a few quick minutes? More worms!

    Although the most meaningful way to follow up our discussion on insects was to get outside and explore real insects, I also put together some indoor explorations to keep the conversations going.

    I Set Up a Discover Table

    On the discover table, I set out some insect cards and discovery bottles as a way to keep our discussion on insects going once we were inside the classroom. The bottles were filled with water and plastic insects that matched each of our cards on the table.

    On the art table, I set out clay for our older children, play dough for our younger children and more plastic insects. The children pressed the insects into the clay or play dough to form prints.

    Exploring insects through My Big World was a fabulous way to kick off an entire unit on insects. My students loved it and I did too!

    If you’re looking for a way to bring fun, hands-on lessons like these into your classroom, I highly recommend trying My Big World for yourself. Sign up for a FREE 30-day trial and discover how My Big World can help you engage students in seasonal lessons all year long

    —Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed., is blogger and early-childhood educator in Indiana who writes the popular blog Teach Preschool.

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Susan Cheyney

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