“Teacher, look what I found!” is a phrase I hear a lot during the spring months when we are out at recess in the afternoon. They come running up with some tiny critter in their cupped hand or crawling on their finger. I’ve seen ants, caterpillars, ladybugs, butterflies, and an occasional walking stick. I’m just glad that they stay away from the spiders and scorpions. 🦂 EEEK!!!
The season of insects is upon us, so why not take that excitement and curiosity and add some (shhh… academics) to it. We’re sharing 15 insect activities guaranteed to engage your students for days to come. You definitely need to add #14 to your lesson plans next week!
Insect Activity 1 – Write the Room Insects
If finding insects outside is not your cup of tea, no worries. Your students can search for those little buggers inside the classroom instead during literacy centers. This low prep center is a great way to combine vocabulary, writing, and visual discrimination. With two different options for your students to record their responses, you can easily differentiate within the center. Some of your students can just copy the name of the insect, while others can use the word in a sentence.
***Added bonus, your students are able to get the “ants out of their pants” in a purposeful manner as they walk around your classroom completing their worksheets.
2 – Read and Draw
There are so many amazing insect books out there. Why not participate in some fun read-alouds and drawings?! Students get to have the fun of simple step-by-step drawings plus writing sentences, building vocabulary, and practicing essential grammar and phonics skills. Snag a few of the insect drawings with a free Premium membership, or download the entire set and a few others from our ETTC Shop. Here are a few of our favorite insect read-alouds and the directed drawing you could use.
- Are You a Grasshopper? by Judy Allen and a Grasshopper Drawing
- The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle and a Ladybug Drawing
- The Beeman by Laurie Krebs and a Bee Drawing
- The Very Impatient Caterpillar by Ross Burach and a Caterpillar or Butterfly Drawing
- Diary of a Spider by Doreen Cronin and a Spider Drawing
Insect Activity 3 – Probability with Insects
Probability can be a very abstract concept for young learners. Introduce the concept with bugs. Use a set of insect manipulatives (aff) and have your students grab a small handful to start. Sort the insects into their separate types and then practice identifying what the odds are of selecting that type of insect from the larger group. Follow up this hands-on lesson with a check for understanding activity.
Use this printable to see if your students can take the concrete to the more abstract. They will color each type of insect a different color and then answer the questions associated with the probability of choosing that particular type of insect. Grab this activity from ETTC Premium for free!
4 – Hatching Butterflies
This is by far a student favorite when it comes to insect activities! You can order a butterfly hatching kit from Insect Lore (aff) that comes with everything you need. They send you the butterfly garden, baby caterpillars, a nectar feeder with sugar packets to make the nectar, and a STEM journal for students to record their thoughts and steps in the process. Pair this project with a few supplemental activities, such as the life cycle of a butterfly that your students will be able to view firsthand. Build some background knowledge by reading about butterfly life cycles as well.
Insect Activity 5 – Insect Parts
Take the labeling of insect parts to a different level by adding in a touch of art. Using this Spider Labeling Worksheet, your students can first add another dimension to the paper by gluing pompoms onto the body of the spider, googly eyes to cover the eyes, and folding pipe cleaners to cover the legs. From there they can cut and glue the labels onto the page. A quick no prep worksheet for you turned into a fun art project for your students. Pair it with this mini-book on spiders for additional learning.
6 – Paper Plate Snails
After watching this video on snails, your students can create a patterned paper plate snail. Give each of your students a paper plate and then a piece of colored construction paper. Using a tub of beads (aff), they will create a spiral pattern on the paper plate to mimic the spiral on a snail’s shell. You can tie in math concepts by having your students create an AB, ABC, AABB, or some other pattern as the design on the shell. You can also extend the task for your higher learners and have them create a counting pattern with the beads. Maybe every third bead is a different color, or every fifth bead, etc. Then cut out a body and antennae from the construction paper and glue the pieces together. Add googly eyes to the top of the antennae for an extra touch.
Insect Activity 7 – Paper Plate Ladybugs
While we are on the topic of paper plate art projects, maybe you are learning about ladybugs. After watching the video about the life cycle of a ladybug, your students can make their own crawly friends to take home. Each student will need a paper plate, red tissue paper or construction paper cut into squares, black construction paper for the spots, and black pipe cleaners for legs and antennae. First, your students will cover the bottom of the paper plate with the red construction paper or tissue paper squares. After that, they can cut out as many black circles as they want for the spots. Finally, add the black pipe cleaners for the legs and the antennae. Cute little ladybugs 🐞 they can take home.
8 – Buggy for Telling Time
Bring out your clock manipulatives to practice some hands-on telling time skills with this bug-inspired math printable. Your students can look at the digital time and create that on their desk clock before drawing the hands on the ladybug clock.
Insect Activity 9 – Nature Walk
Combining insects and plant life, take your students on a nature walk around your school campus. Before you head outside, I recommend reading a book such as In the Tall, Tall Grass by Denise Fleming. This will give them an idea of all of the things there are outside that they can look for. They can either draw or write down what they see, hear, and experience or you can give them a Scavenger Hunt printable and discover how many of those items they can find.
10 – TP Tube Bumblebees
Ask parents to send in toilet paper tubes for this class project. It is a perfect insect activity for when you have a little bit of time, such as a canceled special or indoor recess. Give each of your students a tp tube along with yellow and black paint. They will also need white paper and black pipe cleaners. They will paint the tube yellow and then let it dry. Once the yellow paint has dried, your students will paint black stripes along the tube. Once the stripes dry, they can cut wings out of the white paper and glue them to the back of the tube. Then add antennae and googly eyes to complete the project. While your students work, they can watch an informational video on bees, such as this one.
Insect Activity 11 – TP Tube Butterflies
Just like the bumblebee, you can create butterflies out of toilet paper tubes as well. And this insect activity project doesn’t involve paint! 😉 Give each of your students a tube, along with different colored construction paper and pipe cleaners. Your students can cut out a set of wings from the paper and add different colored shapes to them. After they’ve glued their wings to the back of the tube, they can add pipe cleaners for the legs and antennae. Cute and simple insect art project for your students.
12 – Insect Snacks
The first snack that comes to everyone’s mind when they think of a “buggy snack” is Ants on a Log. Cut celery stalks into small sections and spread with peanut butter (almond butter if you have students who are allergic to peanuts) and then place a few raisins in the peanut butter.
Crunchy caterpillars are another fun and simple snack that your students can make themselves. Give each student a few toothpicks, some grapes, and strawberries cut in half. Your students start with the strawberry as the head of the caterpillar, then add grapes on the toothpick as the segments of the body.
Worms in Dirt dessert is definitely a class favorite. Each student gets a cup of chocolate pudding. They then put cookie crumbs on the top of the pudding and add a few gummy worms to the mixture. This is one delicious snack.
Insect Activity 13 – Firefly Math
Fireflies are such amazing little insects, why not use them to engage your students in math activities. This worksheet straight from our Education to the Core Premium site uses fireflies to help students count forward and backward on with given numbers along the way. Become a free member of ETTC Premium and download yours today.
14 – Scavenger Hunt
So I know that I included a scavenger hunt in #9, but we happen to have two different versions of a nature scavenger hunt. I wanted you to be able to grab the one that best fits your needs. Use this activity one day to get outside and enjoy the nicer weather. Because my students are competitive, I take images of those items I know they won’t find on the playground (frog, squirrel, etc.) and print them out. I then will hide those pictures around the playground so my students can find and check them off while out searching.
15 – Insect Research Projects
As a culminating project for your insect unit, your students can research, write, and create insect reports. This is a great gallery walk activity that you could have in your classroom. Or you can save a bulletin board and highlight their reports on the walls. Your students can choose an insect to research. These close reads passages and mini-books are a great resource to get your students started finding facts on their chosen insect. They can record their facts on a poster or piece of paper and then draw a picture of their insect. Once the class has finished their research projects, display them around the classroom and students can take a look at their classmates’ reports. You can also serve some of the fun insect snacks mentioned above and have students orally share their presentations.
Bring the backyard fun into your classroom with these 15 engaging insect activities. We are gearing up to get “buggy” in the next couple of weeks, so if you have any other insect activities that you and your students love doing, please mention them in the comments below. I would love to add them to my lesson plans as I’m sure many other teachers would too.
Written by – Janessa Fletcher
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