Spring has sprung!! And with spring comes fresh flowers, warmer weather, and let’s not forget about Spring Break! All very enjoyable things!
But Spring also means…BUGS! When the warm weather hits, all those creepy crawlers that were hidden away during the winter months come out of hiding in full force!
And while some of us might not love the all the insects that come with Springtime, it is the perfect time to teach your students about all those creepy crawlies by hosting Insect Week in your classroom!!
To help you implement an awesome insect week that will offer your students some rich science curriculum and tons of fun, I’ve gathered up some of my favorite insect resources and activity ideas for a jam-packed week of insect exploration!
You can easily use this week-long plan exactly as suggested or pick and choose the activities that work for you and your students!!
There are endless options when it comes to prepping your room for Insect Week, but a few basic ideas that will help the week go smoothly include:
- Have an area of the room with all different kinds of books and magazines about insects that students can easily access and explore.
- It can be helpful to dedicate a bulletin board, or part of a bulletin board, to your Insect Unit. You can hang up useful information or facts before you start the week or leave it blank so that you have a place to display student work as they complete it throughout the week!
- I always find it helpful to pre-print any worksheets, graphic organizers, or activities that I will be using throughout the week so that I can be prepared for any unexpected changes in the plan. Check out the resources that I mention below and get them printed out and copied prior to starting Insect Week!
When starting a new unit or subject, the introduction is so important! It not only gives your student a foundation for what they will be learning in the coming days, but it (should) help get them super excited and pumped up for all the things that they’ll be experiencing and exploring!
There are tons of ways to introduce insect week to your classroom, but this is my favorite way to kick off insect week, and is fairly easy to do, depending on what you are comfortable with!
- Start with a video.
In this day and age, technology is the one language that all of our students speak fluently. So, what better way to hook your kids than by showing them an exciting video that explores the wonderful world of insects. The video doesn’t have to be long, in fact, it’s probably better to keep it fairly brief. You want it to be just long enough to peak their interest and get them excited about what’s to come!
Some videos that I love are:
Find Out About Insects! | Nat Geo Kids Insects Playlist
This playlist features a ton of different short insect videos that allow you to pick and choose what you want to use to peak your kids interests. Most of the videos focus on one specific bug, but they are all super kid-friendly, informative, and interesting!
Most Bizarre Insects
This short video will definitely have your whole class saying EWWWWW – but it will also get them super interested in everything about insects!! After all, kids looove to be grossed out, right?
There are honestly TONS of appropriate and exciting videos out there about insects – just search it up on YouTube or Google! One of my favorite videos, if you have a bit more time, is Bill Nye Insects:
Bill Nye makes EVERYTHING more fun and if you’re willing to dedicate about twenty minutes to letting him introduce your kids to insects, you won’t regret it!!
Once you have hooked your kids with a fun video, try doing something hands-on!! A great way to really explore insects in a real-world way is by taking your learning outside the classroom!
- Get outside and look for insects!
What better way to learn about insects than to get outside an look for real, live bugs in their natural habitat!! If you have some outdoor space and are able to bring your class outdoors, following the video, explain to the class that they will be going outside to explore and look for bugs.
Be sure to advise your students to not touch any insects that they might come across. You can give students paper and clipboards and ask them to draw or write down what bugs they see, or, if you have access to devices that can take pictures, ask students to photograph the insects that they find!
Once you return to the classroom, after maybe fifteen or twenty minutes, gather students together to discuss and reflect on what they found. You can even give students some time to research the insects that they observed outside and try to figure out exactly what bugs were what.
This is also a great time to either assign or ask students to choose an insect that they will research throughout the week and present to the class on Friday. Depending on what works for your schedule, you can dedicate specific time each day for students to perform research, or ask them to do it independently when they finish other classwork early or at home for homework.
Also, I always like to ask my students to create some type of visual aid to go with their research projects. I am big on student voice and choice, so I typically let students choose whether they will create a video, a PowerPoint, or a hand-written poster – but if you value a bit more structure, you can specify what visual aid you want students to have!
Check out the research writing paper included in the awesome insect resources that Education to the Core has created for nine different insects!
There are comprehensive printables for Ants, Bees, Beetles, Dragonflies, Fireflies, Flies, Grasshoppers, Ladybugs, and Luna Moths.
With all of the amazing close reads offered for nine different insects, I love to spend Day 2 doing close read centers. This offers students a good foundation for these insects and gives them some basic information to build on.
Before jumping into the centers, it is fun to hook the kids with a read-aloud! There are lots of great bug-based books to use for a read-aloud, but some of my favorites are:
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar
- The Grouchy Ladybug
- Miss Spider’s Tea Party
- Diary of a Spider
- The Very Lonely Firefly
After finishing your read-aloud, it’s time to keep going with the reading theme and get started on your close-read centers.
I like to position my desks in groups around the room, however many insect close reads you will be doing is how many separate areas you should create.
(Note: If you plan to use all nine insect packs, I would split this into two days and do 4-5 insect close reads on Tuesday and the remaining 4-5 on Wednesday.)
Place enough close reads at each center for your entire class and split your students into 4-5 small groups. Send each group to a different center and set a timer for however long you want students to spend on the close read.
Each close read comes with a comprehension check as well. Depending on how much time you have and the level of your students, you can also place the comprehension check at each center and ask students to fill it out after they complete the close read.
If assigning both close reads AND comprehension checks is too overwhelming for your students, or too time-consuming, you might want to assign the comprehension checks for homework!!
Ultimately, you know your students best and can adjust this plan to fit them!
If you split your close reading centers into two days, today would be day 2 of the close reads! The procedure would be the same as on Tuesday, but you might want to try switching up your student grouping for day 2 just to change things up a bit and keep it interesting!
If you did all nine close reads in one day, or if you chose to only use several of the close reads and completed them yesterday, then today would be a great day to discuss and go over the comprehension checks! You can do this in small groups or as a whole class.
Another option for close read centers and comprehension checks is to assign one or two insects to each small group of students. After the groups complete their assigned close read(s) and comprehension check(s), they can take turns presenting the information they learned to the class. As they present, the rest of the class can be filling in the accompanying comprehension check. This method not only offers more interaction, but it can also be a real time saver!
If you are giving students time in-class to research their chosen insect, don’t forget to pencil in some class time for this today, as well!
As Insect Week begins drawing to a close and student insect research presentations are drawing near, it is a great time to get to work on some graphic organizers! This will not only help your students organize the information that they have learned thus far, but it will help them prepare for their research presentation tomorrow!
Now, I don’t recommend just passing out graphic organizers and letting your kids figure it out with no assistance. But again, only you know your kids, so you know how much scaffolding they really need. There are lots of ways that you can offer support for graphic organizer time – books, magazines, close reads, and the internet!
My favorite way to offer students support is by creating a Symbaloo for whatever subject we are studying. If you aren’t familiar with Symbaloo, it is basically a website that allows you to create visual icons as bookmarks for useful websites. This gives your students a jumping off point for where to look online for information!
Another way to offer support is by doing one graphic organizer together as a class. You can create this on the whiteboard/chalkboard or on a large piece of butcher paper. By filling it out as a class first, students really gain a deeper understanding of exactly what is expected of them!
The insect bundles offered by Education to the Core has 3 different types of graphic organizers for nine different insects! This allows you to either give your students some choice in the type of graphic organizer they want to fill out or assign specific organizers based on student ability!
With Insect Week coming to an end tomorrow, I like to give my students a good chunk of time on this day to work on their projects and ask questions/get feedback from me as needed! Don’t forget to use the awesome research writing paper included in Education to the Core’s insect bundles for your kids to display their insect information!
It is officially the last day of Insect Week and time for student research presentations!! Since the week has been pretty intense with close reads, comprehension checks, and research, I like to make this last day as light and fun as possible by throwing a Bug Bonanza Party!I mean, who doesn’t love a party?! Plus, the party vibe helps to keep nervousness that some students feel with presenting to the class at a minimum.
You can make your Bug Bonanza as simple or as extravagant as you (and your wallet) are comfortable with!! Some things that I usually do:
- Get some of those cheap, little plastic spiders and bugs (Party City is a great place to look) and sprinkle them over the desks.
- Pick up some fruit punch, remove the labels, and write Beetlejuice or Bug Juice on the bottles instead – it is so simple and kids just love it!
- If you’re up for it, making worms in dirt is always a fun activity. It takes a little bit of work and supplies, but kids go crazy for it! You’ll need gummy works, plastic cups, crushed up Oreos, and some type of pudding. Simply Google, ‘worms in dirt snack’ and you will find plenty of info and instructions on this food-based activity.
From personal experience, if you plan to have any ‘Bug Juice’ or make worms in dirt snacks, I would save this until after the presentations. This way, you ensure that your students are focused and being respectful of each other as they share their research projects.
If you are worried about time constraints with each student presenting their project to the class, you could do more of a science-fair type scenario. Allow each student to set up their project somewhere around the room and then the class can walk around and look at each person’s poster/PowerPoint at their leisure. You could also ask students to display any notes, graphic organizers, or research that they did near the final project!
If food really isn’t your thing when it comes to classroom activities, it’s always fun to show a movie at the end of the unit, and my top pick is always Bill Nye (if you didn’t show his Bug video on Day 1)!
You could even show Bill Nye while students make their worms in dirt snack – you may just win Teach of the Year if you go this route!! You can’t go wrong with a fun dessert combined with some Bill Nye the Science Guy!!
Other Insect Ideas:
The above plan centers heavily around the resources created by Education to the Core – they are just too cute and useful to not use as the foundation for Insect Week! But if you are looking for some other ways to get your class excited and learning about insects, try mixing in some of the following ideas:
Guest post by Margot Carmichael from Carmichael’s Class
“Teaching 4th grade for four years has helped shape me as a teacher who is passionate about creating a classroom that engages and inspires my students, integrates technology-driven learning, offers real-world experiences, and breeds creativity. I have taught highly diverse classes with high populations of ESL learners, Special Ed learners, and behavior challenges–granting me a deep understanding on the importance of personalizing learning for each and every student. As a teacher, I am constantly learning and evolving, but the one constant is always putting my students first!”