Thursday, March 20, 2014

Going Buggy!

It’s that time of the year when everyone is getting a little buggy!  So of course you've got to go with the flow!   We're off to study insects!
Insects are incredible creatures.  There are over one million different kinds of insects on our planet! Who would ever have enough time to study them all?  Here are a few engaging activities that we use to incorporate some Reading and Writing Common Core Standards with the study of insects.

This Literacy Center game is  a great ACTIVE way to practice Sight words!
                                                                   Swat the Fly!
Materials needed:   
*Skill Cards – White 3" by 5" cards- about 10-12
*Game board – Large Colored Poster Board
*2 Flyswatters
Prep the Cards:  Write words (or letters or numbers or math facts) on the cards.  You can make several sets of cards with a variety of skills and/or varying levels.  Play the game again and again using sets of cards to differentiate between groups of students.
Make the Game board:  Glue some large fly clipart pictures onto a poster board.  Laminate the board for durability.   Lay the cards on top of the flies.  The cards just lay on top of the flies and can be easily switched to different sets.  
How to play the game: 2 players stand across from each other each holding a REAL fly swatter.   
An adult calls out a word and both students try to be the first one to swat the fly.  Whoever has their flyswatter on top of the word card first takes that card and puts it in their pile.  Keep going until all cards are gone.  Count the cards and the player with the most cards is the winner.

If you want to involve more students, create 2 teams.  After the first two students have had their turn, they hand the swatter to their next teammate.  Usually 3 or 4 on a team is enough.  This is not a quiet activity BUT it sure is a fun way to practice a skill!

Insects can be helpful or harmful.  Most people would agree flies fall into the category of 
pests!  The picture shown here is of a funny, engaging ABC book called Old Black Fly.  It tells about the adventures of a pesky fly going from food items to stacks of laundry etc. ....until he meets his demise!  SPLAT!  Oops, sorry to spoil the ending!  This book has the repetitive phrase "Shoo fly, Shoo Fly, Shooo!"  Have the children say it with you each time you reach that part of the story.   The children will be asking you to read this story over and over again!  (It is not necessary to have this book to do the following activity.)

Extension Idea: Writing and Art project
Students use a straw and watercolors to make a picture that is similar to the book's illustrations. They blow through the straw onto a few big drippy spots of watercolors.  Using just 2-3 colors makes their picture turn out great!
After they have created their picture, they look at it and decide what food it reminds them of. (Wow, lots of imagination may be needed here!) Next they write their sentence adding the repetitive phrase from the book.  Ex. "He landed on my peanut butter and jelly sandwichShoo fly! Shoo fly! Shooo!" or "He landed on my ice cream.  Shoo fly! Shoo fly! Shooo!" 
You might be lucky enough to find some plastic flies at the store to glue on their finished painting.  If not, just use a small clip art picture of a fly or have the children draw a fly on their paper. 

                                                                           The Magical Life Cycle of a Butterfly
After we have studied butterflies and learned about their life cycle, use this magical demonstration as an example of metamorphosis!
Materials: *A leaf with an egg:  Green construction paper or green felt & a small white pompom
(Ours was made using fun foam with black veins drawn on the leaf and a tiny pom pom
                 *Caterpillar: Cute clipart caterpillar or 4 large yellow pompoms glued on some paper                                                                           *Chrysalis:  Crumpled up old brown lunch bag
                 *Butterfly: Cute colorful clip art of a butterfly (Ours is a butterfly puppet!)
Students are sitting on the floor anxiously awaiting the magical butterfly trick.  You may have a poem or song that tells about the life cycle of a butterfly. The students can sing along as you perform the magic trick! If not, just say the stages as seen in quotes.
         Step 1) Show them the leaf with the egg ("Stage 1-the egg")
         Step 2) Turn over the leaf with the egg and set the caterpillar on top ("Stage 2-the caterpillar")
         Step 3) Place both items inside the bag and twist the bag around and around for the spinning chysalis  "Stage 3-the chysalis")
                                       NOW for the magic!!
         Step 4) Reach into the bag and pull out the butterfly and fly it! ("Stage 4-the butterfly")
(As ours was a butterfly puppet, we put a hand inside the puppet after placing caterpillar & leaf inside the bag.)  Bring out ONLY the butterfly! Don’t forget you must put the butterfly inside the bag before you begin this magnificent magical trick!)  
          Step 5) Ooooo & Ahhhh!  A magical metamorphosis has occurred right before their eyes!!    
                                                Writing Extension
Black spotted ladybug beetles are always a favorite with kids!  Below is writing activity that plays off the black dots on ladybugs and helps reinforce the use of describing words.  Some creativity is needed to complete the task!

We love the book 10 Black Dots as a lead-in to this activity. But you don't really have it to use this writing idea.  The book uses dots in the illustrations and text.   To begin them thinking about their writing, ask the children to look around the classroom for things that have dots or black circles or holes.  Make a list.  Next, ask them to visualize - eyes are closed and no talking!  Ask them to imagine going inside their homes and looking around their house or bedroom.  Have them share with the class what they saw.  One child said, “I see my Mickey Mouse on my bed.  He has 2 black circles for ears!”  That child then wrote about her Mickey Mouse stuffed animal.  The two pictures below are examples of some student work.  One child wrote about a ladybug and the other wrote about cheddar cheese. (We really think he meant to write Swiss cheese ...because of the holes!). It is always amazing to see how they “connect the dots"

                                     Click {HERE} to link to the FREE writing templates for this activity.

Ladybug Singable
We always have songs and poems to reinforce vocabulary and reading.  Below is a short movie we made of our singable Lucille the Ladybug, sung to the tune "Take Me Out to the Ballgame".  Just click and sing away!

                                  Dragonfly & Bee Craft projects 
After learning about the dragonfly and bee, follow up with these craftivities!
                                                                 Dragon Fly Art
             Body: Clothes pin or popsicle stick   
             Wings: Colored cellophane or cut up colored plastic vinyl
             Head:  Pom Pom (only on the popsicle stick)
             Eyes:  Small wiggly eyes
             Antenna: Pipe cleaner 
Students may paint the bodies (clothespin or popsicle stick) before gluing on the other body parts. 

                                                                  Bee Art
             Body: Toilet paper tube- color black and yellow stripes or cover with strips of colored paper
             Wings: Cut 4 paper wings (our picture shows only 2.  Maybe the other 2 are hiding!)
             Head: Glue a small circle at one end of the tube
             Eyes: Small wiggly eyes or draw them on with black crayon
             Antenna: Pipe cleaners behind the face
P.S.  The flower pictured above was made using a coffee filter, watercolors, and a colored tongue depressor...or just paint the tan ones! 

JK Curriculum Connection
Here is another Insect FREEBIE you might enjoy!


  1. Hi Ladies! Love your extension activity on Old Black Fly! Will definitely be trying that out with my preschoolers :) Ten Black Dots has always been a favorite in my classroom as well! So glad to have stumbled upon your blog!
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