Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Homeschool Science: Intro to Insects

I haven't blogged too much about school lately. For one reason, it takes A LOT of work to blog about school. Pictures, links, recording everything... It is simply too much to keep up with. Another reason is that school feels more like work than fun for a while now. Who wants to hear about that? Plus, I do not feel a need to keep up the Joneses on this one.

However... The kids and I started our insect study two weeks ago and I can tell it is going to be a lot of fun! I thought it would be nice to share since I do like to include homeschool stuff now and again on the blog, especially plans that actually work. And I definitely like to keep things relatively simple (for me) yet hands-on, which I am sure would appeal to many homeschool moms out there!

We have had great success using Apologia Science using the Elementary books by Jeannie Fulbright. Many are put off by the young earth point of view, but in all honesty, it rarely bugs me. We have done Astronomy, Swimming Creatures, Land Animals, and now Flying Creatures. Of these four, the young earth view point was most prominent in Land Animals. I find, however, that it is very apparent when the author is arguing her point and I could easily skip over the information. For an independent reader you would of course have to discuss. Unless of course you believe in a young earth, then you will have no issues!

FYI: As Catholics we are free to use our brains and believe whichever theory works for us as long as God initiated it all and is the creator of all, that Adam and Eve were real people, and that all humans have souls. (This is a basic way to state that. If I am in any way wrong, please correct me fellow Catholics!)

Now, for the first lesson...

Before we even began our insect study, we had a nice surprise with the accidental "birth" of a caterpillar in our basement which we released outdoors.

The next week we started our insect study (using lesson 9 in the Flying Creatures book). The kids learned about what makes an insect an insect, whether they are beneficial or not, and the body parts of an insect.

After reading, we worked on notebooks (that I create to each child's level -- see below for details), and did a few experiments.

For me, I was a little iffy going into this lesson. I understand the importance of insects but that does not mean I want to go around catching them! But, the kids dived in whole-heartedly which helps my enthusiasm.

The most important part of this lesson is to catch a real-live insect, preferably one that you can really see all the parts! We used a large ant most days. Look at all the insect parts after you read about their function. I used a mason jar and punched some small holes in top (not too large or the insect can get out).

We did this lesson over two weeks so we had to catch various insects as we always released our insects where we found them.

After observing our insect and its parts, we put the bug jar in the refrigerator for a few hours. Guess what happened? You killed it! No, despite what my kids thought, we were simply observing what it means to be cold-blooded. The insects (a bee and a ladybug) quickly warmed up and moved around.

We also "killed" an ant by drowning it. Do you know how hard it is to drown an ant? He was a fighter. Don't worry. I didn't kill the ant either. We were simply observing how an insect has the ability to prevent drowning by closing its spiracles (the holes it uses to breathe). Mr. D poured salt on him and the kids gently blew the salt off and he started twitching. Once dry, he was off again. (The salt speeds up the drying process, no harm done.)

One of my goals this year is to have Mr. A start leading the experiments: following directions and reading aloud to the others, answering questions about what he sees and what he thinks will happen as well as recording what actually does occur. You know, sciency stuff. (We make up words in my home.)

A neat supplement the kids are having fun with is the book DK Ultimate Sticker Book: Bugs. They are eager to help each other. It is a good visualization. The younger kids can match stickers to their shapes while the older kids can read information to everyone.

We also watched the first episode of Life in the Undergrowth by David Attenborough. It includes any invertebrate, not just insects. The close-up visuals are amazing and it was informative as well. The boys were riveted.

And of course our notebooks are typically pretty fun and even hands-on at times, like our "creepy crawly moves" from Miss L's notebook.

And Mr. D's making a "bug on a log" snack for everyone as part of his notebook.

To wrap up the lesson, Mr. A, with the other kids' help, made an insect "zoo." You could do this in a variety of ways. Since we have plans to actually raise a few different insects, I suggested an "open" zoo, something to attract the insect he wanted (ants) where they could come and go as they pleased. You could make a natural spot outdoors or a container inside. Mr. A chose to use a plastic bowl filled with items he thought ants would like (dirt, rocks, leaves, food).

The morning after he set this out I checked the bowl to find all the food was gone. I am pretty sure he attracted a large, fur-covered kind of animal. ;) Mr. A added popcorn and by dinner we had an ant circus going on. The kids loved it and was amazed at the ants carrying big pieces of popcorn.

Fun Books from the Library:
**My favorites**


Miss Lilly (Pre-K/K)
  • Coloring Page (A First Look at Insects)
  • Do you like insects?
  • Make Your Own Bug (Miss L drew on a separate paper her very own bug using what she learned about insects.)
  • One neat thing I learned narration box
  • Bug action cards
  • Parts of an insect illustration (can color in)
  • The Insect Song (inspiration)
  • Make a Ladybug
  • Hands-On page (kids glue on pictures from their activities and glue here)
Mr. D (1st/2nd)
  • Coloring Page (A First Look at Insects)
  • What did I learn? (illustration/narration)
  • Parts of an Insect fill-in illustration (inspiration)
  • What do you know about insects? vocabulary fill-in
  • Pocket for insect memory game (print on cardstock)
  • Booklet "How to Make Bugs on a Log" (I printed four pages to 1 page to make it smaller)
  • "What is an Insect?" reader
  • Hands-On page (kids glue on pictures from their activities and glue here)
  • Latin/Greek words: diptera, exoskeleton
  • Coloring Page (A First Look at Insects)
  • What did I learn? (illustration/narration)
  • Vocabulary -- choose 2 words from the list to define using the book or a dictionary
  • Parts of an Insect fill-in illustration
  • I am an Insect (circle which are insects)
  • Hands-On: Insects are Cold-Blooded
  • Hands-On: Revive an Insect
  • Hands-On: My Insect Zoo
And of course I have a Flying Creatures pinterest board if you are interested in following that kind of thing.

I do not promise to blog all of our insect lessons, but I will try!

Now, off to learn about how insects make babies!

1 comment:

  1. Looks like you are having a lot of fun and it will be a great summer!


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