Below you’ll find some fun learning bug assignments and projects geared for grades K-5. We would love to have you share your own bug projects with us. If we post your ideas on the web we will send you and your class a bunch of Cool Bug Book Marks to show our appreciation. And to all you teachers out there…THANK YOU FOR DOING THE MOST IMPORTANT JOB OF ALL!
Bug or Insect?
All insects can be called bugs but not all bugs are insects. Bugs are a general term describing any mini-beast or creepy crawly on earth. Spiders, Millipedes, Bumble Bees, Beetles, and Grasshoppers are all bugs but they are not all insects. An insect must have two antennae, three body parts (head, thorax, and abdomen) and six legs. A spider has only two body parts (cephalothorax and abdomen), eight legs and no antennae. Millipedes and Centipedes have even more legs and body segments and are considered bugs but not insects. Assignment: Ask students all the different bugs they know and write them on the board. Assign a bug per child and have them draw a picture of that bug. (Reference and visual material may be useful for this assignment) Ask all the “Insects” to go to one side of the room and all the “Non-Insect Bugs” to go to the other side. One by one have come to the center of the room and discuss why their bug is or is not an insect. Kids learn: Body parts, Identification, Classification, Counting, and Communication Skills.
Patience is a…Cricket?
Predatory bugs hunt in many ways. Some are always on the hunt moving about looking for their next meal while others stay very still waiting for their lunch to come their way. Assignment: Have students write down the following bugs: Spider, Centipede, Ant, Praying Mantis, and Dragonfly. Discuss which ones are always on the move and which are still and have patience. Have students give examples of times when it is better to have patience and wait and when it is better to go after what they are looking for. Discuss the physical traits needed for each hunting technique in the wild such as camouflaging (mantis) or being able to fly extremely fast (dragonfly). Kids learn: Patients, Ambition, Identification, Physical Attributes, and Resourcefulness.
Separate the class into groups and give each group a long bug name such as DRAGONFLY, MILLIPEDE, or GRASSHOPPER. Assignment: Have groups come up with as many words from the only letter in their Groups BUG name. One child from each group presents all the words they have found and spells them out while pointing to the letters. Kids Learn: Cooperative Learning, Spelling, Problem Solving & Presenting Skills.
The Good Bug
Most people think of bugs as “bad”. In fact, most bugs are good for the environment and beneficial to us. Assignment: Children choose a bug and research that bug by taking a trip to the library and reading cool bug books. Teachers can check out books on gardening or composting and use discussion to help direct the children. Students can write a paragraph explaining why their bug is a good bug and how it is beneficial to use us. Kids learn: Research, pollination, composting, decomposing, and descriptive writing.
Forget the hamster and “Adopt a Bug”
Bugs have been around for over 300 million years (way before dinosaurs walked the earth) and can teach us so many things. Assignment: Take children on a bug hunt using available bug catchers. and bug houses. (Do not try to catch centipedes, bees, wasps, or ants) Have children take note of the environment the bugs were caught. What trees were they near, what flowers where they on, where they on wet soil or dry sand? Place all captured bugs in a secure container. Bring all caught bugs into class and have a class discussion as to which bug to Adopt as the classroom pet. Assignment 2: Have kids vote on the teacher’s top two picks. Release all the other bugs where you caught them and try to recreate the Adopted Bug’s natural habitat in a big Bug Barn or custom container. Learn as much about and from the bug throughout the year. Kids learn: Exploration, observation, natural habitats, environments, voting, responsibility.
Note: many bugs do not live long and some do not live at all outside their natural environment. Good bugs to Adopt may include Millipedes, Ladybugs, Praying Mantis, June or Darkling Beetles, even Cockroaches (not German or American cockroaches). Coolbugstuff.com also has Anthills, Beetle Barns, and Ladybug Land habitats available for schools and parents (but it’s more fun to catch them yourselves!)
If kids can learn cooperation from an ant, patience from a praying mantis, and resourcefulness from a cockroach, just think what they can learn from you and the countless number of bugs here on Earth!