A popular stereotype holds that little boys like bugs and little girls hate them. With this insect lesson plan, you can set aside gender clichés and make bugs interesting and fun for everyone.
- Students will recognize identifying characteristics of insects.
- Students will differentiate between insects and other types of bugs.
Read aloud the book, I Like Bugs, by Margaret Wise Brown. Discuss whether or not students like bugs, why or why not, what types they like or don’t like, and other ideas.
Provide small groups with sets of bug pictures that include insects, spiders, earthworms, and others. Ask the groups to sort the pictures by characteristics.
Ask groups to share how they sorted the pictures. If it is not clear from their work, use questions to elicit that some of the bugs have three body parts, six legs, and two antennae.
Explain that this is a special group of bugs called “insects." Have the groups mix their pictures back together and sort them into “insects" and “not insects." You could extend this part of the lesson by giving the groups different sets of pictures and having them trade sets with another group.
Brainstorm with the students to make the list of the bugs in the book that were examples of insects. Ask students to explain how they identified.
Provide a variety of craft materials to the students, including papers, balls, foam, chenille stems, fabric, cereal boxes, milk cartons, paint, glitter, and anything else you have on hand.
Ask students to create their own new insects using the materials. When they finish their creations, they should write a short composition in which they name their insect and describe it. Their insect should include specific features regarding what it takes to be an insect instead of another kind of bug. Encourage them to stretch their imaginations as they design the body parts, legs, antennae, and colors of their unique insect.
Have the students copy their compositions onto small cards. Attach the cards to the insects with a small length of monofilament line, and then hang the insect models from the ceiling with another piece of line.
Extension and Enrichment
Give students writing paper in the shape of an insect. Ask them to write a short story about the adventures of that insect. Be sure to include the characteristics that identify it as an insect. After illustrating their stories, students should cut out the writing shape and bind them together to make a shape book.
Extend the art project by making it into a game. Provide students with a stack of cards on which you have written review questions, math problems or something similar. Students must correctly answer the question on the card they draw before spinning to see which body part they may add to their insect. If the spinner lands on a part they’ve already collected enough of, they have to wait until the next turn to add to their bug. The first person to complete an insect with three body parts, six legs, and two antennae wins the game.
This insect lesson plan for 1st grade may cause a bug invasion in your classroom, but the harmless swarms will help your students recognize this special group.