Second Grade - Science - Lesson 39 - Insects


Identify several types of common insects.


Script for "Bug Talk," one copy for each performer (see attached)

Pictures of insects in play (see attached)

Unit Background Information

There have been insects on the earth for 350 million years, since long before the dinosaurs. Today over half of all living things belong to the Class Insecta. For every person alive there are 200 million insects. They are found everywhere, even in the cold of Antarctica. Why have insects survived and been so successful? Their life cycles allow for rapid reproduction and large numbers of eggs. This increases chances for body changes and adaptability to new conditions. Hard exoskeleton and the mobility provided by wings have also enabled insects to survive in ever-changing environments.

Insect Anatomy: Most insects have six legs and pairs of wings. (Spiders with eight legs and millipedes and centipedes are not insects.) The typical insect segmented body has three main parts: head, thorax and abdomen. Instead of a skeleton of bones, insects have a suit of armor called an exoskeleton (skeleton on the outside) made of a substance called chitin. They grow by shedding or molting old exoskeletons and constantly forming a new skin under the old one. Insects breathe through openings in the abdomen called "spiracles." Mouthparts have adapted to the kinds of food an insect eats. For example, butterflies and moths have a long, curled straw-like structure called a proboscis. They uncurl the proboscis and sip nectar from deep inside flowers. Termite and grasshopper mouthparts are designed for biting and chewing. Flies have mouthparts like sponges for sopping up food, while female mosquitoes have needle-like mouths for piercing and sucking blood.

Insect Senses: Insects use antennae to feel, smell and sometimes hear. Insects also have hairs or bristles all over their bodies that are attached to nerve cells that sense movement, pressure, sounds and smells. Butterflies and flies taste with their feet. Most insects have two types of eyes, simple and compound. The compound eyes are packed with tiny lenses that produce multiple pictures. These eyes are sensitive to movement. An insect's simple eyes are sensitive to light and dark.

Beneficial and Harmful Insects: Insects play important roles in nearly every ecosystem as parts of the food chain, as pollinators and as decomposers. We depend on bees to pollinate our fruit and vegetable crops and for honey. Silk worms produce cocoons we unravel to weave into silk. On the harmful side: mosquitos and fleas carry diseases from host to host through blood meals. Flies spread bacteria on their feet to food. Locusts and many, many other types of insects munch on plants and cause substantial damage to crops. Scientists who study insects are called entomologists.

Suggested Books

Jennings, Terry. Insects (Junior Science series). New York: Gloucester Press, 1991. Contains good illustrations plus simple insect experiments.


Second Grade - Science - Lesson 39 - Insects

Parker, Nancy Winslow and Joan Wright. Bugs. New York: Greenwillow, 1987. Contains wonderful illustrations of various bugs including grubs and larvae. It should be pointed out that the authors included spiders, ticks and slugs, none of which are insects.

Parker, Steve. Beastly Bugs. Austin, TX: Raintree Steck-Vaughn, 1994. The illustrations, photographs and easy-to-read captions make information accessible. Includes sections on "Beautiful Butterflies," "Meat-eating Mantids," and "Fearsome Flies."

Parker, Steve. Insects (Eyewitness Explorers series). New York: Dorling Kindersley, 1992. In addition to the eye-catching approach of this book, it is organized in a child-friendly way. Sections on "Legs and Leaping," "Walking on Water," and "On the Wing" show insects in action, not as collected specimens.

Pope, Joyce. Insects (Action Science series). New York: Franklin Watts, 1984. Emphasizes hands-on field studies children can initiate.

Souza, D.M. Insects in the Garden. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda, 1991. Text is a bit challenging but close-up photos of common insects are excellent.

Teacher Resources

Mound, Lawrence and Stephen Brooks. Insects (Pockets Full of Knowledge series). New York: Dorling Kindersley, 1995. A very handy guide organized by habitat. Includes excellent insect photographs from the Eyewitness series.

Naturescope: Incredible Insects. Washington, D.C.:National Wildlife Federation, 1984. This extremely helpful teacher's guide is the source for several of the activities in this unit.


Tell the children that the new unit is all about insects. Tell them there are lots of insects living all over the world, in every kind of habitat. Insects live on land and in the water. They live in bright sunshine and in dark caves. They live in jungles, on plains and cold mountain tops, in cities and on other animals. Draw a stick figure and a ladybug on the board. Put a numeral one under the stick figure and 200,000,000 under the ladybug. Tell the children that for every one human being on the earth, there are 200 million bugs.

Ask the children to brainstorm with you and make a list of insects. Accept all suggestions. In later lessons the children will learn which are not insects. Tell the children that they will be learning about different kinds of insects, about bees, grasshoppers, ants, butterflies, beetles and even termites and fleas. Tell the children they will be playing bug bingo, building bugs and an insect tree, observing real insects in the classroom and examining some of the things insects make.

Distribute copies of the Bug Talk script to all the children and tell them that today they are going to put on a play. Tell them that the insect characters in the play are being interviewed on a T.V. talk show called Bug Talk. Assign students to play the various parts in the play while the rest of the children play the studio audience. Have special studio technicians hold up pictures of the insect guests while each of them is speaking (pictures attached). Children might want a chance to read over their parts to become familiar with them. If time permits, you may want to let them take home copies of the play to read over for homework and then have a performance the following day.


Second Grade - Science - Lesson 39 - Insects

When the play is finished, have each of the characters come to the front of the room, hold the picture of his or her insect for the class to identify and receive a round of applause from the studio audience.

Optional Activity

adapted from Nature in Your Backyard by Susan Lang, p. 10.


Observe and count the insects that live in a small sampling of soil.


2-liter plastic soda bottle cut in half (discard the bottom half)

A cup

Shoebox with a small hole cut in the lid

Shovelful of soil and leaf litter from a garden or compost pile in an unsealed plastic bag

Desk lamp

A piece of plastic wrap

Suggested Books

Lang, Susan. Nature In Your Backyard. Brookfield, CT: The Millbrook Press, 1995. Contains the activity, "Bottle of Bugs" plus more information on the numbers of bugs in soil and air.

Silver, Donald. One Small Square: Backyard. New York: W.H. Freeman, 1993. Excellent illustrations of insects in the soil with informative captions on pp. 24-25.


Remind the children that insects live everywhere--underground, in the grass, under bark and stones, in streams and on bushes and trees, tucked inside flowers and in kitchens and warehouses and barns. There are insects smaller than a grain of rice called booklice that live in old books and eat the mold on the pages.There are insects that live in pools of oil that bubble up out of the ground. Insects live everywhere. Tell them that there are so many insects in the world, that entomologists say if you filled a bathtub full of dirt, you would find from 500 to 2,000 insects living in that dirt. Tell the class you would like to try that experiment and see what happens. Instead of filling up a bathtub though, you are going to try it with a soda bottle and a lot less dirt. Ask: If I'm using a lot less dirt will I get the same amount of insects--500 to 2,000? (No, probably a lot less)

Put the cup inside the shoebox to catch the bugs. Put the top on the shoebox with the hole in the lid lined up over the cup. With the neck facing down, put the soda bottle in the hole so it is supported. Tell the children that it is a 2-liter soda bottle that you have cut in half and so you are calling it a 1 liter holder. Fill the soda bottle with soil. Now shine the desk lamp on the soil. Ask: What do you think the lamp shining on it will do to the soil? (warm it) Where do you think the insects in the soil are going to go? Do you think they will come up out of the soil, go down deeper or stay where they are? (Accept all answers.) Tell the children you will leave the lamp on the soil for an hour or so and then check to see what the insects have done and how many there BCP DRAFT SCI 101

Second Grade - Science - Lesson 39 - Insects

are in the sample of garden soil.

When you return to the experiment, report to the children whether there are any insects on

the surface of the soil. Then carefully remove the shoebox lid and see if there are insects in the cup inside the box. If so, you might want to put the plastic wrap over the cup to keep them from escaping and then allow the children to see what has fallen into the cup. The number of insects

will vary according to the qualities of the soil. Have two students come up and count the number of insects in the cup and write that number on the board. Write 1 liter of soil = next to their number. Ask: Why do you think the insects went down and dropped into the cup? Do you think it is because they don't like the heat from the lamp? (yes) Ask: Did you expect there to be this number of insects in the 1 liter sample of soil? Imagine how many insects there are under your feet when you stand on the ground.

When the children have seen the insects, put them in the plastic bag with the soil. Tell the children you will return the insects to the garden.



(a play)


Rosie O'Beetle

Monarch Butterfly

Luna Moth





Paper Wasp


Studio Technicians

Studio Audience

ROSIE O'BEETLE: Welcome to our show, Bug Talk. I'm your host, Rosie O'Beetle. Today we will be talking with some famous insect families. We'll be getting the scoop about their habits, favorite foods, and maybe get a peek at their life cycles. Our first guests are from the butterfly family. Please tell us your names and something about yourselves.

MONARCH: My name is Monarch butterfly. I am so glad to be here, Rosie. I've just flown in from the coast, you know. Every year I make a long trip out to sunny Mexico. Since I've been back I've hardly had time to suck up some breakfast or comb my antennae. I must look a mess.

LUNA MOTH: You look just fine, dear. All that flying must help you keep your figure. You butterflies are all so slim while we moths are kind of chubby. (yawn) Pardon me, I'm not usually up in the daytime. That's why they call me Luna Moth. You know, Rosie, "luna" means "moon."

ROSIE: That is fascinating. I hear that you two both started out as caterpillars.

MONARCH: It's true, Rosie. Everyone in our family started out as a caterpillar. What childhood memories! All those happy days just eating and eating milkweed leaves.

Second Grade - Science - Lesson 39 - page 102

LUNA MOTH: I never liked milkweed, but give me a tree full of fresh green leaves...yummy!

ROSIE: Thank you so much butterfly family. You both look lovely with those wonderful wings. And now to our next guest family, the grasshoppers.

GRASSHOPPER: Howdy, Rosie. I'm a grasshopper. You in the studio audience probably guessed that just by looking at my big hoppin'-type legs. Another way to tell is my sawtooth jaws for chewing up leaves.

ROSIE: Tell me, grasshopper. What is this I hear about brown juice?

CRICKET: (chirp!) I can answer that. I'm a cricket. (chirp!) When somebody picks on old Grasshopper, he spits brown juice on them. Yuk!

GRASSHOPPER: So what's the big deal. It works doesn't it?

CRICKET: I suppose so. I don't want anyone spitting brown juice on me. I just want to sing (chirp!) and sing (chirp!).

ROSIE: That's very nice, cricket. Maybe we can do a duet later on in the show. Now I'd like to introduce the ant and bee family.

HONEYBEE: Happy to be here, Ro-zzzz-ie. We bees are pretty busy this time of year, collecting pollen and nectar, making honey and feeding all those little larvae in the hive. We bees like to work together. Everybody has a job to do.

ANT: It's the same way in our underground ant nest, Rosie. Queen ant, worker ants, soldier ants, we all have our duties.

HONEYBEE: Of course, honeybees can fly. You poor worker ants have to do all your work on the ground. Bzzzz!

ANT: It's not so bad. As long as we can get enough food for our colony, we don't have to attack another ant nest and steal their food.

Second Grade - Science - Lesson 39 - page 103

PAPER WASP: Stealing food! Now don't get me started. My name is Paper Wasp, Rosie. Maybe you've seen me and my sisters building nests in the corners of buildings. I prefer under a porch roof myself where it's nice and dry. We chew up wood and mix it with spit and make grayish-colored paper nests with little cubbies for each of the larvae. Our larvae are so cute! I think I have pictures...

ROSIE: Wait a minute, there. You haven't seen cute 'til you've seen beetle larvae. Our grubs are adorable! Just look at mealworms if you don't believe me. And I'm telling you, my family is big. Beetles make up the biggest bunch of creatures in the animal kingdom. You can tell us by our shiny wing covers. See, mine are red with big black polka dots. When I'm ready to fly, I just open them up and out come my flying wings. Well, enough about me. Our last family is the fly family. Tell us about yourself, housefly.

HOUSEFLY: Thanks, Rosie. I'm a housefly. Our larvae are called maggots. I have just one pair of wings and a mouth built like a sponge to sop up food. One thing I'm not, is a picky eater. I enjoy all sorts of cuisine...rotting fruit...dead animals...animal droppings, I love 'em all.

ROSIE: Well, it takes all kinds to make up the insect world. Thank you to all our guests. Join us tomorrow for Bug Talk when we look at baby pictures of all those cute larvae we've heard so much about. See you then!


Second Grade - Science - Lesson 39 - page 104


Second Grade - Science - Lesson 40 - Insects

Adapted from activities in Naturescope: Incredible Insects, National Wildlife Federation.


Compare mouths of chewing (grasshopper), sipping (butterfly) and piercing (mosquito) insects.

List different foods insects eat.

Demonstrate how a butterfly gets its food.


Party favor blower (the kind that uncurls when blown)

2 drinking straws fitted together and scotch taped to make one long straw

A pair of pliers, a thin knitting needle, a sponge and a dish of water

A pitcher of water

For each child: two drinking straws scotch taped together, a small paper cup and a paper

towel for spill cleanup

Suggested Books

Amery, Heather and J.Songi. Bugs (Discover Hidden Worlds series). Racine, WI: Western Publishing Co., 1994. Electron microscopy reveals a fly's mouth, the hairs on a bee's leg, the scales on a butterfly's wing. Many of the pictures in this book are not for the squeamish!

Horton, Casey. Insects. New York: Gloucester Press, 1984. Illustrates a variety of insect body forms and diagrams parts of a bee's body and the jaws of a grasshopper.

Teacher Resources

Nature Scope: Incredible Insects. Washington, D.C.: National Wildlife Federation, 1984.


Post the pictures of insects from the last lesson on the board. Remind the children that they met some insects on Rosie O'Beetle's show last time. Ask: What were the names of some of the insects we met? Ask: Do all insects eat the same thing? (no) Ask the children to look at the pictures of the insects on the board. Ask: What do butterflies eat? (flower nectar) How do you think they get down into the flowers to get the nectar? (Accept all answers.) Show the children the party blower. Tell them that the party blower is like a butterfly's mouth. It is curled up while the butterfly is flying from flower to flower. When the insect wants to eat, it uncurls its mouthpart and uses it to reach down into the flower. Demonstrate with the party blower how this works. Show the children the long straw you have assembled. Tell them that inside the butterfly's mouthpart is a long straw like this one. Demonstrate how the butterfly can sip nectar through the straw. When it is finished sipping from a flower, the mouthpart curls back up again. Tell the children that the curly mouthpart of the butterfly is called a proboscis (pro-BAHS-kiss). Write this on the board and have the children repeat it after you.

Hold the pliers sideways as you would hold hedge clippers and show the children the jagged ridges inside the jaws. Ask: Do you remember which insect talked about his saw-tooth jaws for chewing up leaves? (grasshopper) Tell the children that insects don't have teeth for chewing as people do. A grasshopper's mouthparts work like the pliers' jaws to bite and chew up BCP DRAFT SCI 115

Second Grade - Science - Lesson 40 - Insects

grass and leaves. These jaws are called mandibles (MAN-di-bulls). Write this on the board and

have the children repeat it after you. Beetles, crickets and roaches also have strong mandibles for chewing, slicing and dicing. Ants have mandibles, too, for chopping up food and other insects.

Ask: Do you remember which insect on the Bug Talk show ate rotting fruit and dead animals? (housefly) Show the children the sponge and water. Tell them that houseflies have mouthparts like a sponge. Demonstrate how the sponge picks up the water. Tell the children that houseflies sop up their food.

Show the children the knitting needle. Tell them that there is an insect that was not a guest on Rosie's show. Tell them you will give them some clues about this insect's mouthparts and see if they can guess what insect you are thinking about. Clue #1: This insect has a mouth like a needle. Clue #2: There is a straw inside the needle. Clue #3: This insect pokes the needle into something. Clue #4: This insect sucks blood through the straw in the needle. Ask: What is the name of the insect? (mosquito)

Tell the children that today they can all be moths and butterflies and try to get their food butterfly-style through a proboscis. Distribute a proboscis (two drinking straws taped together), flower (paper cup) and paper towel to each child. Pour a small amount of nectar (water) in each flower and have the children sip their butterfly meals.

Write What Insects Eat on the board. Brainstorm with the children and make a list (leaves, nectar, pollen, other insects, wood, blood, rotting fruit, dead animals). Remind the children that insects eat different kinds of foods and have different kinds of mouths for eating.


Insects have three parts:

1. head - eyes and antennae are here

2. thorax - the middle part where wings and 6 legs are attached

3. abdomen

Answer the questions about a real or made-up insect you

want to build. Think about what it eats and make its mouthparts useful. Build the bug.

Where does this insect live (its habitat)? In the grass? Under rocks? In a pond? In the kitchen?

What does this insect eat?

How does this insect move? Does it fly, crawl, hop, swim?

What is this insect's name?


Second Grade - Science - Lesson 40 - Insects

Recipe for Bug Modeling Dough

Mix the following ingredients in a large pot:

2 cups white flour

cup salt

4 Tbsp. cream of tartar (available in spice section of market)

Mix and add following:

2 cups water

4 tsp. vegetable food coloring

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly (about 3-5 minutes). At first it will look like a goopy soup, but after a while it will form a ball in the center of the pot. Remove from heat and turn out on wax paper to cool slightly. Be sure to get sticky pot into water to soak so cleanup is easier. When cool enough to handle, knead the dough until it is smooth and store in an airtight container. If you split the recipe in half, you can make two batches of different colors. Makes twenty-four 1-inch balls of dough.


Second Grade - Science - Lesson 41 - Insects

Adapted from activities in Naturescope: Incredible Insects, National Wildlife Federation.


Describe the body construction of a typical insect.

Create insects using the basic insect body design.


Transparency of grasshopper (see attached)

Build-a-Bug kit (one for each group of four children): a styrofoam meat tray (to use as a base) balls of modeling dough or modeling clay (recipe attached), scissors, plus odds and ends such as pipe cleaners (legs and antennae), caps from bottles and tubes, toothpicks, drinking straws, feathers, dried beans, uncooked pasta of different shapes (macaroni, spaghetti, rigatoni,) wax paper (wings) etc.

Build a Bug worksheet (see attached)

Suggested Books

Cole, Joanna. An Insect's Body. New York: Morrow, 1984. Well written exploration of insect body design focusing on the cricket, which is the featured insect in Lesson 42.

Zim, Herbert and C. Cottam. A Golden Guide to Insects. Racine: WI: Western Publishing Co.,1956. This little pocket guide has great illustrations for identification of insects plus short blurbs on each type.

Teacher Resources

Nature Scope: Incredible Insects. Washington, D.C.: National Wildlife Federation, 1984.

Berenbaum, May R. Ninety-nine Gnats, Nits, and Nibblers. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1989. Entomologist Berenbaum's style is casual and very funny. She includes chapters on Kitchen Companions, The Wet and Wild Bunch, Flexible Flyers, and What's Eating You? This very readable reference book highlights the kinds of insects one might run into everyday.

Hopkins, Lee Bennet and M. Arenstein (eds.). Potato Chips and a Slice of Moon. New York: Scholastic, 1976. Source of "About Feet" poem. Also includes a poem about "The Ant Village."


Show the children the transparency of a grasshopper. Ask: What kind of insect is this? (grasshopper) Tell the children that today they are going to be entomologists. People who study insects are called entomologists. Have them repeat the word after you. Say: We entomologists are going to study today how a bug is built. Then we are going to build an insect with all the parts a real insect would have.

Refer to the transparency and tell the children that all insects have three major parts of their bodies. Point out the head, the thorax (the middle of the body) and the abdomen. Have the children repeat the names of the parts as you point to them. Explain that most insects have wings. The grasshopper's are folded up beneath leathery coverings. Ask a child to come up and point out the grasshopper's eyes. Tell the children that there are many tiny lenses in the grasshopper's BCP DRAFT SCI 117

Second Grade - Science - Lesson 41 - Insects

eyes that send lots of pictures to its brain. Ask: Can anyone point out the grasshopper's antennae?Have a child come up and point them out. Ask: What do you think an insect uses its antennae

for? (to feel, smell and sometimes to hear) Ask: Have you ever noticed that insects such as flies have hairs or bristles all over their bodies? These hairs sense movement, pressure, sounds and smells.

Tell the children to look at the grasshopper's back legs. Ask: Do these look like strong hopping legs? How many legs does a grasshopper have? Point and count with the class. (six legs) Tell the children that if they count the number of legs on an insect and it isn't six, it probably isn't an insect. Spiders, for instance, have eight legs. Ask: Are spiders insects? (No, insects have six legs. Spiders are not insects.) An insect's legs and wings are attached to the middle part of its body, the thorax.

Point to the holes (spiracles) on the grasshopper's abdomen. Tell the children that this is how grasshoppers and other insects breathe. The insects take in air through these holes called spiracles on the abdomen. Ask: Has anyone ever seen a bird taking a dust bath, diving into dust and throwing it on its feathers? Birds have a special reason for doing that. There are tiny insects living in the bird's feathers that bite its skin and bother the bird. When the bird takes a dust bath, the dust clogs up the spiracles on the insects. They can't breathe through the holes and they die. Dust baths are how birds get rid of bothersome insects.

Ask: Do insects have bones and a skeleton like people or dogs or fish do? (No, they don't.) Tell the children an insect's skeleton is on the outside like a suit of armor for protection. We call it an exoskeleton. Write exoskeleton on the board. Tell the children exo means outside. The exoskeleton is made of something called chitin. Write this word on the board, too. Tell the children as an insect grows, it must shed its old skin when it gets too tight. Underneath is a new skin. An insect sheds its skin several times before it is all grown up.

Refer to the pictures of the insects on the board and remind the children that insects come in all shapes and sizes. Some, like fleas, are as small as the head of a pin. Others are as big as a hand, such as luna moths. But whatever their shape, color or size, insects share the same body design: six legs, three body parts and usually wings and antennae.

Tell the children that now they know how a typical insect is put together, they are going to divide into teams and build a bug. It can be one of the insects pictured on the board, or a made-up insect. Tell them to try to decide what their insect eats so they can design mouthparts for it. Is it a jumping insect, a crawling insect, a beetle with fancy wing covers or perhaps a swimming insect? Does it have long dainty antennae like a butterfly's or feathery ones like a moth's? Tell the children whatever they decide, try to stick to the insect body design of six legs, three body parts.

Divide the class into groups of four. Have a runner from each group come and get a bug building kit and worksheet. When the children are finished their bugs, have each group share its insect creation and bug information with the class. Make a display area for the creations labeled "Insect Zoo."

You may want to share the following poem about feet with the class.



Second Grade - Science - Lesson 41 - Insects

About Feet

The centipede is not complete

Unless he has one hundred feet.

Spiders must have eight for speed,

And six is what all insects need.

Other creatures by the score

Cannot do with less than four.

But two are quite enough, you know,

To take me where I want to go.

Margaret Hillert

from Potato Chips and a Slice of Moon

Possible Homework

Have the children cut out pictures of insects from magazines or junk mail to be used in an insect bulletin board.

Additional Activity

From Naturescope: Incredible Insects, National Wildlife Federation.


Build a model of a grasshopper and label the parts.


worksheet (attached)

paper, glue, scissors, pencil and crayons

Teacher Resource

Hopkins, Lee Bennett ed. April Bubbles Chocolate, An ABC of Poetry. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994.


Hand out the worksheet. Tell the children that this is a mixed-up puzzle. The picture of the grasshopper at the top shows what it should look like. Tell them to cut out the pieces of the puzzle along the dotted lines, arrange them to make the grasshopper and then glue them on a sheet of paper. Then have them label the parts of the grasshopper and color the picture. While the children are working on their puzzles, you may want to read them the following poem.


Second Grade - Science - Lesson 41 - Insects


He's a happy-go-hopper,

A green garden guy,

With his zigzag legs

And his knees so high,

With his legs at the ready,

Set to bounce like a ball--

He looks like he's hopping

When he isn't at all.

Beverly McLoughland

from April, Bubbles Chocolate, An ABC of Poetry

Looking At Crickets

1. Do the crickets have long or short antennae?

2. Do their back legs look like the back legs on another insect?

Which one?

3. What color are the crickets?


Are all the crickets the same color?


Are they all the same size?

4. Can you see the crickets' eyes?

Can you see their wings?

6. How do the crickets move?

7. Did you see the crickets eat anything? What?

8. Did your crickets make any sounds? If so, what were the sounds like?

9. What else have you noticed after watching the crickets?



Second Grade - Science - Lesson 42 - page 126


Second Grade - Science - Lesson 42 - Insects


Observe live crickets; describe their appearance and how they behave.

Describe how crickets make sounds.


20 or more adult crickets (available at pet stores)

Habitat for crickets

(suggestions: aquarium or clear container with a fine screen top; gravel or soil can be used in the bottom; small plants, sticks or rocks for "landscaping"; crickets will eat vegetables such as cucumbers and lettuce, fish food, and cereal; keep a wet paper towel in a small dish for the crickets' water source.)

Two large combs, two sticks

For each group of four: two crickets, two clear plastic cups, two pieces of scotch tape, small piece of cucumber or lettuce, a hand lens, worksheet (attached), paper and crayons

Looking at Crickets worksheet (see attached)

Suggested Books

Carle, Eric. The Very Quiet Cricket. New York: Philomel, 1990. A young cricket meets a variety of insects but does not find his own voice until he meets his mate. Carle's illustrations, especially of the luna moth, are magical. There is a cricket-sound built into the last page of the book.

Johnson, Sylvia. Chirping Insects. Minneapolis: Lerner, 1986. While the text is for older children, there are close-up photos of crickets rubbing their wings to produce sound.

Piers, Helen. Grasshopper and Butterfly. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1975. Grasshopper helps a late-emerging butterfly find cover for the winter in this story of friendship and acceptance. Although butterfly loses her friend to the winter cold, an egg hatches in the spring and a new grasshopper discovers he already has a butterfly friend.

Porter, Keith. Discovering Crickets and Grasshoppers. New York: Bookwright Press, 1986. Contains chapters on jumping, flying and how grasshoppers talk to each other.

Ross, Michael Elsohn. Cricketology. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda, 1996. Everything one would want to know about crickets plus many activities and experiments for children to try with live crickets. Activities in the book were developed with the help of several elementary school teachers and their classes.

Background Information

The best opportunity for students to observe crickets is in temporary "cricket cages." To make the cages, punch small holes in the bottom of a disposable drinking cup (clear, plastic). Stack it rim-to-rim on top of another clear plastic cup and tape them together with two pieces of tape. To open the cage, lift the tape on one side and hinge the top back. Put a small piece of vegetable and one or two crickets into each cage and retape the side. Small containers from salad bars can also be used for cricket cages if holes are poked in the top. Crickets can be rounded up from their tank with a small fish net.

For those reluctant to remove the crickets from their tank, divide the class into groups BCP DRAFT SCI 124

Second Grade - Science - Lesson 42 - Insects

and set up four stations for the children to visit. Label the stations: 1. Look, 2. Read About, 3. Write About and 4. Illustrate. Have hand lenses or other magnifiers available at station 1; research materials such as insect field guides with cricket pages paperclipped, books, and magazine articles at station 2; cricket worksheets and pencils at station 3; paper and crayons at station 4.


Remind the children that last lesson they learned about insect body design. Ask: How many legs does an insect have? (six) What are the three parts of an insect's body? (head, thorax and abdomen) Tell the children that last time they looked at a grasshopper's body. Today they will get a chance to look at another kind of hopping insect that sings. The name of the insect is a cricket. Point to the picture of the cricket from the last lesson.

Show the children the cricket habitat and explain how you assembled it. Tell them what you are feeding the crickets and where they get their water. Tell them that children in Japan shop for these insects in the pet sections of department stores. Japanese children keep crickets as pets. They buy or make pretty bamboo cages for the crickets and feed their pet crickets vegetables. Japanese children say the best part about having a cricket pet is listening to it sing or chirp at night. It is considered good luck to have a cricket singing in your house. As the weather gets cooler in the fall, Japanese children take their pet crickets to parks and temples for musical cricket concerts. There is a special ceremony to honor the crickets and at the end of it the children open all the cricket cages. As the crickets hop or fly away, they sing and the children wave goodbye to them. They have to let the crickets go because the crickets must mate and lay eggs before they die or there would be no baby crickets the next spring. Tell the children that in a few days when everyone has had a chance to observe the crickets, perhaps the class can have a special ceremony and release the crickets outdoors to enjoy the spring.

Ask: How do you think crickets make chirp sounds? (Accept all answers.) Show the children the comb and the stick. Ask one of the children to come up and have him or her scrape the stick quickly back and forth over the ends of the comb teeth. Tell the children that the comb is like the ridges on the inside of a cricket's wing. The stick is the hard edge of the other wing. The cricket rubs its two wings together to make a sound. Have another child come up and demonstrate with the other comb and stick and ask the two "crickets" to "talk" to each other. Tell the children that crickets have special places on their front legs that are sensitive to sound, so you might say crickets hear other crickets with their elbows!

Divide the class into groups of four: runner, reader, writer and illustrator. Have runners come up and get an occupied cricket cage, a cricket observation sheet, and hand lens. Distribute paper and crayons and a reference book (insect field guides and suggested books) to each group. Ask the children first to closely observe the crickets. Look for the insect body design. Use the hand lenses to get a good look. Watch the cricket carefully and see how it behaves. After the children have had some time to watch the crickets, ask the groups to answer the questions on the worksheet. Have the illustrators do illustrations of the crickets. When the children are finished, have the readers and illustrators from each group share findings and illustrations with the class. (Cricket illustrations can be used to make a Cricket Tree bulletin board with cricket facts written

out on the tree's leaves.)


Second Grade - Science - Lesson 42 - Insects

Tell the children that one can tell the temperature outside by listening to crickets chirping. The warmer the temperature, the faster a cricket chirps. Tell them that when it is cool, the crickets might chirp perhaps once every five seconds. Demonstrate this with the comb and stick.

But when it is a warmer night, the crickets might chirp every two seconds. Demonstrate this also.

Tell the children that only adult male crickets sing. They sing to let the female crickets know where they are. Read to the children The Very Quiet Cricket by Eric Carle.

Crickets can be returned to the cricket habitat. It is a good idea to have the release ceremony within a week as pet store crickets are not long lived.


Second Grade - Science - Lesson 43 - Insects


Compare the life cycles of insects that go through complete and incomplete metamorphosis.

Explore the life of ants in an anthill.


Transparency of anthill (see attached)

Large ball of yarn

Bowl of dried beans (can also use M&M's or other treat)

Suggested Books

Berman, Ruth. Ants (an Early Bird Nature Book). Minneapolis, Lerner, 1996.

Dorros, Arthur. Ant Cities (a Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science Book). New York: Crowell, 1987. This is a great read aloud and highlights the way ants work together.

Facklam, Margery. Creepy, Crawly Caterpillars. New York: Little, Brown, 1996. The life cycles of thirteen different caterpillars are examined in this beautifully illustrated book.

Johnson, Sylvia. Mantises. Minneapolis: Lerner, 1984.

Heiligman, Deborah. From Caterpillar to Butterfly (a Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science Book). New York: HarperCollins, 1996. A school class keeps a caterpillar in a jar and watches it grow and change into a painted lady butterfly.

Lavies, Bianca. Backyard Hunter: The Praying Mantis. New York: Dutton, 1990. Excellent photographs of the life cycle of the praying mantis.

Patent, Dorothy. Looking at Ants. New York: Holiday House, 1989. Black and white photographs of the various life stages and types of ants.

Stefoff, Rebecca. Praying Mantis. New York: Benchmark Books, 1997. Color photographs and large print text.

Terry, Trevor and Margaret Linton. Life Cycle of an Ant. New York: Bookwright, 1988. Illustrations of rooms in an anthill are wonderful.

Teacher Resources

Small ant farms are available for $9.95 from Edmund Scientifics Catalog, 101 East Gloucester Pike, Barrington, NJ 08007, (609) 547-8880. After sending in the coupon that accompanies the farm, it takes approximately two weeks for the ants to arrive by mail. The ants are sterile and will not produce eggs or dig egg chambers, but they will work together to dig tunnels and store rooms for food.

"In ANTicipation of Summer." Copycat May/June 1997, p. 34. A wonderful collection of ant activities using ants in math, crafts, and even ant snack recipes. Includes a good illustration of an ant showing thorax, head and abdomen.


Tell the children that today they will be learning about an insect that is one of the greatest hunters of the insect world. If this insect was a dinosaur, it would be T-Rex. If this insect was a reptile, it would be a twelve-foot alligator. If this insect was a mammal, it would be a tiger. The name of this hunter insect is Praying Mantis.


Second Grade - Science - Lesson 43 - Insects

Show the children pictures of a praying mantis (see Suggested Books) Tell the children this insect attacks many other kinds of insects including grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, even poisonous spiders, wasps, and bees. The praying mantis is an ambush insect. Ask: Does anyone

know what an ambush is? It is when a hunter waits motionless, hiding or blending in with the

background so it won't be noticed. It waits and waits until its prey comes by and then...it jumps out and catches the prey. A praying mantis catches its prey and holds it still with spines on its front legs so it can eat it. When it is finished eating, it cleans up its front legs and antennae, just like a kitten washing itself. Praying mantises eat so many insects that farmers and gardeners like to have them around. They eat the insects that damage the crops.

Ask: What shape is the praying mantis's head? (triangular) Have a child come up and point to the head, thorax and abdomen of the praying mantis and count the legs. Tell the children to take a look at the insect's front legs. Ask: Why do you think this insect is called "praying mantis?" (Accept all answers.) Does it look like it has folded its front legs and is saying its prayers?

Tell the children that praying mantises lay eggs just as grasshoppers and crickets do, but have a special way to protect them. After praying mantises have mated in the late summer, the female hangs onto a branch and pushes from her abdomen a white foam that sticks to the branch. She lays clusters of eggs in the foam and makes slits for passageways. In a few hours, the foam hardens into a tan, waterproof shell that protects the eggs inside for the winter. Then the female dies. In the spring, the warm sunshine softens the tan shell. The eggs inside hatch and out of the passageways pour hundreds of baby mantises. The babies are called nymphs. They look just like their mother only they are very tiny. All summer they eat and grow. Their wings get longer until they are able to fly. Then when fall comes, they, too, mate, lay eggs in a tan shell and die.

Ask: Do butterfly babies look like their parents when they hatch out of the egg? (No, they are caterpillars) Review with the children the stages of a butterfly's metamorphosis--egg, larva, pupa (chrysalis) and butterfly by showing them pictures (see Suggested Books) and reminding them of the story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Tell the children that butterflies go through changes that make them look completely different from their baby pictures. These changes are called metamorphosis (met-a-MORF-o-siss). Have the children say the word with you. Grown-up grasshoppers and praying mantises do look like their baby pictures; they don't change form as they grow up. We say that their metamorphosis is incomplete.

Tell the children that there are some insects, ones they probably have seen many times, that change form as they grow up just as butterflies do. Write ants on the board. Tell the children that ants live together in nests. They dig tunnels underground. Ask: Has anyone ever seen ants going to and from their nest? What do you think the ants are busy doing? (Accept all answers.) Show the children the transparency of an anthill and point out the various rooms as you mention them. Tell the children that inside the nest are tunnels and underground rooms where the ants live and work. There is only one queen ant in a nest. She lays eggs which are kept in special egg rooms. When an egg hatches, a larva comes out. The larva looks like a white worm. Nurse ants that take care of the ant babies, move the larva to the larvae rooms where they feed and keep them clean. There the larva grows and molts, grows and molts until it becomes a pupa. The nurse ants carry the pupa (or cocoon) to the pupa room. Before long, the pupa changes into an ant. From that moment the ant has work to do. It must help the other worker ants find food, keep the nest tidy by taking out the trash, dig new tunnels and food storage rooms, feed the queen, take care of the eggs and babies and defend the nest from intruders. Ask the children to imagine they BCP DRAFT SCI 129

Second Grade - Science - Lesson 43 - Insects

are worker ants. Together, make a list on the board of all their jobs. Ask: Which job would be your favorite?

Ask the children to cover their eyes. Say: Here we are deep in the anthill. It is very dark

down here. We ants have to find our way by feeling around with our antennae. Another way we

ants can find our way is by following smell trails. The ant in front can drop tiny amounts of a liquid from its abdomen that smells familiar to the rest of us. We can follow the smell and know it is the right way. Say: Now we have to leave the nest and find some food. I will be the scout ant. When I find some food I will leave a chemical trail on my way back to the nest. That way you can follow the trail, find the food and help carry it back to the nest without getting lost. Tell the children that you will leave a trail for them to follow once you have found food.

Walk around the classroom "looking" for food and unwinding the yarn behind you. Leave the yarn ball by the bowl of dried beans. Have the children uncover their eyes and stand behind each other at the beginning of the "trail." Say: If I could talk I would say, "Hey, I found a huge bowl of food but I can't remember where it is. We'll have to follow the scent trail back to the food." Have the children feel with their antennae (arms) to keep track of the ant in front of them, and follow the yarn trail around the classroom until they reach the bowl of beans. Have each take a bean and carry it along the trail back to the nest.

When the children have returned to their seats, tell them you are going to read them the story about a scouting party of ants who go out to bring food back to the anthill. Read them Two Bad Ants by Chris Van Allsburg.

Have the children write a story about what it is like to be an ant living in an anthill.