This lesson provides students a basic understanding of invertebrate
animals classified Insecta. Video segments have been selected to include
up close and real encounters within insect environments, visually stimulate
interest and learning, enhance understanding and application of the scientific
process and to assist with development of critical thinking skills. Video,
hands-on, investigative and interactive activities were chosen to enhance
the learning process as students discover stages in a complete metamorphosis,
observe animals as they react to environmental stimuli and internalize related
knowledge as presented or discovered throughout the lesson.
TAKE A LOOK
UP CLOSE AND NATURAL
Students will be able to:
- name the stages in complete metamorphosis;
- list several insects that develop through complete metamor-phosis;
- implement investigative techniques;
- advance observational skills;
- describe an animal's reaction to environmental stimuli;
- identify characteristics of all insects;
- specify additional characteristics of most insects.
(per group of four)
- 1 chalkboard
- 1 piece chalk
- 1 eraser
- 1 specimen or picture of caterpillar
- 1 overhead projector
- 1 metamorphosis transparency (use Activity Sheet #1 as master)
- 1 18 oz. container oatmeal
- 1 18 oz. container finely shredded leaves
- 1 mealworm culture (pre-prepared weeks prior to lesson)
- 1 metric ruler
- 1 hand lens
- 1 sheet notebook paper
- 1 pencil
- 1 toothpick
- 1 paper towel
- 1 copy Activity Sheet #2
- 1 copy Activity Sheet #3
Hold or display a specimen or picture of a caterpillar in clear
view of all students. Ask, "What becomes of caterpillars that you can
easily find appearing on shrubs and trees beginning in early spring?"
Allow for responses; pass the specimen/picture among students for a closer
observation. Continue, "What happens to them by summer?" Accept
all reasonable responses. (developed into butterflies or moths)
Say, "The caterpillar's life cycle actually begins as a fertilized
egg laid by the adult female insect the previous fall. Why doesn't it develop
during this season?" Elicit discussion leading to conclusion that the
egg is deposited in a protected environment and remains dormant until conditions
are suitable for it to develop. (temperature and availability of food) Say,
"As temperatures begin to warm, days get longer and new growth appears
on plants, the egg begins its process of development which occurs before
it becomes an adult. What is this process called?" Allow for discussion.
Have student who responds first with correct answer (metamorphosis) write
the term on the chalkboard.
Elicit discussion encouraging students to define metamorphosis in their
own terms. Lead student interaction toward conclusion that metamorphosis
is a series of changes that insects undergo as they develop from a fertilized
egg into an adult. After students reach consensus on an accurate definition
using their terminology, write or have a volunteer write the definition
on chalkboard. Distribute a pencil and sheet of notebook paper to each student.
Instruct them to write metamorphosis and its definition on their paper for
Position the transparency made from master/Activity Sheet #1 on overhead
projector. Use this graphic as a visual tool for students to identify and
discuss the four stages that occur in the process of a complete metamorphosis.
(egg, larva, pupa, adult) After discussion is brought to closure say, "Work
independently and use the visual to identify characteristics you observe
in each stage as the process of complete metamorphosis takes place in the
life cycle of a beetle. Use the notebook paper and record your observations."
Allow time for students to share individual observations. Turn off overhead
Say, "The sight of an insect generally evokes some sort
of emotion in most of us. What emotion might you anticipate if you were
to look down and see a beetle resting on your arm?" Accept brief responses.
Ask, "Would you anticipate the same emotion if you saw a butterfly
resting in the same spot?" Allow time for students to compare their
anticipated responses to the two insects. Ask, "If you were asked to
identify the most beautiful butterfly that lives in the U.S., which would
you name?" Guide discussion toward conclusion that most would probably
name the monarch butterfly. Inform, "You are going to see a video that
shows the developmental life cycle of the monarch. What is the correct term
for this process?" (metamorphosis) To give students a specific responsibility
while viewing say, "Watch the video and compare characteristics you
observed in the adult beetle to those of the adult monarch butterfly."
TAKE A LOOK
FAST FORWARD and BEGIN tape immediately following segment on
bees. Audio is, "You'll easily recognize this insect; it's a monarch
butterfly." Visual is two brightly colored monarchs resting on a leaf.
PAUSE tape on close up visual of monarch butterfly. Say, "Take
this opportunity to carefully observe the adult stage of the monarch's life
cycle." Allow time for students to observe and compare with their earlier
observations of the adult beetle. Say, "During complete metamor-phosis,
the immature insect never resembles the adult."
To give students a specific responsibility while viewing ask, "What
stage of development is the monarch in immediately preceding its adult stage?"
(pupa) "As you watch the video, compare the characteristics of the
pupa stage of the monarch to what you recorded on notebook paper as characteristics
of the beetle in its pupa stage." RESUME tape. PAUSE
tape as narrator says, "This is also a monarch butterfly as a pupa
just before it gets its wings." Visual is a pupa recognized as a cocoon.
Allow students to compare observations made of the beetle pupa and the monarch
pupa. Discuss that during the pupa stage there is very limited movement,
however, much is changing as all tissues are being transformed into those
of an adult. Upon completion, the monarch emerges from the cocoon as a fully
Say, "When we earlier in the lesson looked at the metamorphic stages
of the beetle's development, our approach was to begin with the first stage
(egg) and follow the beetle's development forward." (e.g.) It began
as an egg, developed into a larva, developed further into a pupa and finally
emerged as an adult. Ask, "Who can contrast the approach being used
by the producer who made the monarch video?" If no one has realized
the video approach is reversed, provide a clue by asking which stage of
development was seen first. (adult) Which was seen second? (pupa) Ask, "Which
of the metamorphic stages would you predict will be seen next?" Allow
students to make predictions.
To give students a specific responsibility while viewing say, "Watch
the next video to test the accuracy of your predictions." RESUME
tape. PAUSE tape with visual of a caterpillar on leaf. Allow students
to evaluate the accuracy of their predictions. (The larva stage was an accurate
prediction.) Say, "The larva stage of the butterfly's metamorphosis
is recognized as a caterpillar. How would you describe its habits?"
(eats almost constantly; grows rapidly; molts and increases in size, stage
continues for several weeks)
To give students a specific responsibility while viewing ask, "What
do you already know to be the first stage in the life cycle of an insect?"
(fertilized egg) Ask, "Do you think the fertilized egg stage is included
on the video? Why?" (No; an insect's fertilized egg is almost microscopic
in size and extremely difficult to locate/observe in a natural environment.)
RESUME tape. PAUSE tape with audio, "Remember, you might
find an insect as a larva, a pupa or as an adult." Allow time for students
to evaluate correctness on whether they thought the egg stage of development
would be included on the video.
Review stages in a complete metamorphosis by encouraging students to list
them in a progression of natural order. (egg, larva, pupa, adult) Ask volunteers
to list them in a reversed natural order. (adult, pupa, larva, egg)
NOTE: To include the following hands-on project, mealworm cultures should
be prepared by cooperative teams of four students each approximately _______
weeks before the lesson is to be presented. Pre-preparation includes: Appoint
cooperative teams of four students each. Invite teams to bring from home
a three pound size plastic margarine tub with lid; use as housing for cultures.
Prepare housing by pouring about one-third cup oatmeal into the tub to create
a mound effect. This serves as the medium for the mealworm cultures. For
moisture, place one-half of a small raw potato in the medium, cut side down.
Mealworm larvae can be purchased at pet stores for a few cents each. Provide
each team 6-8 larvae. (Larvae mature into adult beetles in about one month.)
Punch holes in lid to provide air circulation and prevent food from molding.
Reserve space for cultures to be stored; assign teams responsibility for
maintaining their culture.
Assemble cooperative teams at appropriate work stations. Distribute a hand
lens and a metric ruler to each team. Ask one team member to get their mealworm
culture and bring it to the work station. Distribute a pencil, a paper towel
and a copy of Activity Sheet #2 to each student.
Write entomologist on the chalkboard. As you point to the term say, "An
entomologist is a scientist whose work and study is very specialized. What
is the work of an entomologist?" Elicit discussion leading to conclusion
that the responsibility of an entomologist is to study insects. Say, "You
will be doing the work of an entomologist today." Emphasize: As you
examine and observe your mealworms and beetles, they must be handled gently.
Also, each specimen must be returned to the mealworm house as soon as your
observation activities are completed.
Discuss: After adult beetles mate, the female lays tiny, almost microscopic
eggs about the size of dust specks. Say, "Look at your mealworm house.
Can you locate any eggs? Why?" (No; too small to distinguish from the
food) "How can you know the life cycle is progressing?" (observe
the very tiny mealworms recently hatched) Say, "Newly hatched mealworms
will be only about one millimeter long. Examine the house and determine
if yours contains newly hatched mealworms." Allow time for observations;
encourage students to describe their observations.
Instruct teams to gently remove one fat mealworm from the culture, then
place it on a paper towel. Say, "Use the hand lens to carefully examine
your mealworm. Give special attention to color and its overall appearance."
Allow time for activity. Say, "As a team, discuss and reach a consensus
on the best way to describe the mealworm's color and appearance. Then complete
number one on your individual Activity Sheets." Allow time for completion;
have each cooperative team share its results with the class.
Say, "Work independently and count the number of segments on your mealworm.
Then, complete number two on the Activity Sheet." Allow time for the
task to be completed. Ask, "Did each member of your team count the
same number of segments?" (numbers may vary, however, most are likely
to count 13) Ask, "Which segment was unlike other segments?" (rear
segment) "How would you describe the rear segment's shape?" (triangular)
Say, "Think about this statement and be prepared to complete it. The
mealworm is to the mealworm beetle as the caterpillar is to the _________."
(butterfly) Ask students to qualify their answers. (Both are the larva stage
in the life cycle of different insects.) Say, "When mealworms have
completed the growth cycle of the larva stage, they are generally quite
fat from eating almost constantly. This is a clue you might look for, to
alert you to watch for the larva to soon pupate." Write pupate on chalkboard;
Say, "Mealworms generally vary in length from 10 to 30 millimeters.
Use the metric ruler to determine the length of your mealworm. Then complete
Activity Sheet item number three." Discuss results, then instruct teams
to return the mealworm larvae to the containers. Have students complete
number four; discuss.
Say, "Carefully remove a mealworm pupa and place it on a paper towel."
Discuss: Mealworms do not spin a cocoon in their pupa stage. "Which
insect does?" (butterfly) "Instead, they wrinkle up into an off-white
curved pupa and at first appear to be dead; however, they're just resting.
During the pupa stage which may last from several days to 2-3 weeks, the
mealworm pupa does not eat. The time spent as a pupa is determined by a
variable." Write variable on chalkboard and ask students to explain
the term. Say, "The variable that determines time the mealworm spends
in the pupa stage is temperature. Would you expect a warmer temperature
or a cooler one to accelerate progress through this stage?" (warmer)
Say, "Again, use the hand lens to observe and examine the mealworm
pupa. Then complete numbers five through nine on your Activity Sheet."
Allow time for completion of the task as you move among cooperative teams
to monitor progress. Have teams share results recorded on sections 5-9.
Instruct teams to return the pupa to the mealworm culture.
Say, "Look for empty skins inside your mealworm cultures. What are
they?" Allow for student responses. (exoskeletons) Write term on chalkboard
and guide discussion to conclusion that the growing larvae sheds its skin
between 9-20 times before becoming a pupa. Ask volunteers to tell what the
shedding process is called. (molting) Have a student write molt or molting
on chalkboard as other students name animals or additional insects they
know to molt.
Instruct students to complete sections 10-12 on the Activity Sheet. Allow
time for completion. Encourage less verbal students to interact as groups
share their answers.
Pass a container of oatmeal among teams as you instruct, "Take a small
amount of oatmeal and place it as a mound on one of your paper towels. Remove
a mealworm from your culture and place it on the mound of oatmeal. Observe
the mealworm, then record your observation on Activity Sheet number 13-A."
Allow time for completion of task. (may eat a little oatmeal but will probably
tunnel into the mound before it begins to eat) Discuss results.
Pass the container of finely shredded leaves to teams and say, "Take
a small amount of shredded leaves and create a mound on the paper towel.
Place the mealworm on the shredded leaves, observe its reaction, then complete
13-B and 14 on your Activity Sheet." Allow time for completion. Have
students discuss their observations. (If leaves are very finely shredded,
the mealworm will most likely again tunnel into the mound. The mealworms
tunneled into the mounds because they prefer darkness, thus attempt to avoid
light.) Say, "Return your mealworms to the culture, however, be sure
to save the shredded leaves as they will be used again later." Instruct
students to complete numbers 15 and 16 on the Activity Sheet. Allow for
Say, "Now that you have done some of the work of an entomologist, of
what value do you think their work may be to the world?" Allow students
to respond; accept all answers.
Say, "Suppose you wanted to study a specific insect on your own. How
might you get a specimen to study and how would you need to treat it?"
Allow time for students to consider and respond. Say, "The next video
shows Jill in a field of goldenrod." To give students a specific responsibility
while viewing say, "As you watch, determine what it is she's trying
to catch and whether she's successful. In addition, be prepared to describe
her collecting jar and the material it's made of." FAST FORWARD
and BEGIN tape with visual of Jill in field of goldenrod. Audio
is, "Jill is exploring a field of goldenrod. She's trying to catch
a dragonfly with a collecting jar made of window screen." PAUSE
tape on visual of jar containing two dragonflies. Audio is, "She caught
two." Ask students to identify and describe the insects Jill caught.
Allow time for response. Ask, "What was the collecting jar made of?"
(window screen) Encourage students to evaluate whether the window screen
was the best material she could have selected and whether the jar could
have been more efficiently designed.
To give students a specific responsibility while viewing say, "As you
watch the next video, look for four examples of ways to observe insects
at close range." RESUME tape. STOP tape at end of segment
about the ant farm. Have a volunteer list on chalkboard examples of ways
to observe insects, as students provide information. (observe jar of caterpillars
as they develop into butterflies or moths; find insects crawling on ground
and place them in a bug container for observation; use a magnifying glass
as appropriate for a closer look; start your own ant farm)
Say, "In order to know whether a bug-like animal is a true insect,
there are certain things you must know about them." To give students
a specific responsibility while viewing say, "Watch the video and be
prepared to tell what it is you must know in order to make an accurate determination."
UP CLOSE AND NATURAL
BEGIN tape with visual of Louise sitting on a wooden step. Audio is,
"How do you know an insect is an insect?" PAUSE tape after
Louise has asked the question. Write Characteristics of All Insects on the
chalkboard. Ask, "What are possible characteristics you can suggest
that all insects have?" List on chalkboard as suggested by students.
To give students a specific responsibility while viewing say, "Watch
the next video to check your suggested characteristics for accuracy."
RESUME tape. PAUSE tape to validate student answers after
audio, "Six legs and three body parts; that's what makes an insect
an insect." Allow time for students to validate the chalkboard list.
Erase suggestions that cannot be validated.
Ask, "Do you know of characteristics that some insects may have but
other insects don't?" Write the heading Characteristics Most Insects
Have on the chalkboard. Allow time for student responses; write each under
the heading. To give students a specific responsibility while viewing say,
"Watch the video and decide whether the characteristic you suggested
is an accurate one." RESUME tape. PAUSE tape and allow
students to tell which characteristics should remain as accurate and those
which should be erased. Visual is a close up of Louise; audio is, "Some
people call them feelers because an insect uses its antennae to feel the
air and other things around them." Add any information needed to make
the chalkboard list complete. Review the accurate list.
To give students a specific responsibility while viewing say, "As you
watch the final video and as a review of what you've learned today, see
if you know the correct answer when a question is asked about the stages
of metamorphosis." RESUME tape. STOP tape on visual of
Louise; audio is, "It means changing from one thing to another."
Allow time for students to self-evaluate answers to questions asked on the
Distribute a copy of Activity Sheet #3 to each of the cooperative
teams of four students. Say, "One member of your team should be appointed
recorder; complete sections of the Activity Sheet after the team has reached
a consensus on each answer." Allow time for recorders to be selected.
Say, "Carefully remove one adult beetle from your mealworm culture
and gently place it on a paper towel." Instruct students to examine
the beetle using the hand lens. Discuss: The beetle hatches quickly once
it begins to emerge from its pupa stage. They are usually white when they
first emerge. As the beetle gets a few days older, its color turns red and
eventually black. The darkest beetles will be the oldest. The adult beetle
consumes food but not as constantly as the larva you examined earlier. Ask,
"What color is the beetle you're examining; is it young or is it old?"
Allow time for team responses, then instruct teams to quietly discuss question
number 1 on the Activity Sheet and after having reached a consensus on the
answers, assist the recorder as he/she writes them in the appropriate space.
Allow time for the task to be accomplished.
Instruct students to work as a cooperative team as they discuss, reach a
consensus and record answers to numbers 2 and 3 on the Activity Sheet. Allow
time for completion.
Distribute 4 toothpicks to each team of students. Say, "Use the toothpick
and carefully lift the beetle's wings. Use the hand lens for a closer observation."
(Some wings may be difficult to see. The adult beetle has two pairs or a
total of four wings.) After each team member has had an opportunity to examine
the wings, the group should discuss and record answers to number 4 on the
Pass the containers of oatmeal and finely shredded leaves to each cooperative
team. Instruct teams to remove a small amount from each container and create
mounds on a paper towel. Say, "Place the beetle on the mound of oatmeal
and then on the leaves. Observe the beetle's reaction to each, then record
your team's observation under number 5 on the Activity Sheet."
Instruct teams to read question number 6 on the Activity Sheet, make their
observations, then return the beetle and oatmeal to the mealworm house.
After the team has determined its answers to number 6, they should be recorded.
Allow time for completion of the task. Begin with question 1 on the Activity
Sheet and have each team share their answer. Allow time for teams to compare
and/or contrast results as needed. Continue procedure until all questions
have been reviewed.
Instruct teams to clean work areas, discard used paper towels and return
materials to the supply area.
Arrange a field trip to visit a beekeeper. Encourage students
to research how bees gather nectar and make honey. Ask the beekeeper to
explain how hives are built and maintained and what is necessary for a hive
to be productive. Suggest the beekeeper provide information about the queen,
drone and worker bees. Have students write thank you notes to the beekeeper.
Invite an entomologist from your regional or state Department of Agriculture
to visit your classroom. Ask them to discuss the most common beneficial
and harmful insects found in your geographic area. Request that they include
a discussion of fire ants and killer bees with current data on their migratory
movements within the U.S. Research geographical locations of major orders
of insects. Plot results on a large wall map of the world, indicating where
the major orders live.
Have students write the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C.
and request a list detailing sources of pamphlets which provide information
about insects in the United States. Use the list to acquire information
and to prepare a display or bulletin board.
Assist students who have a special interest in an insect or group of insects
by providing time for research and preparation of a report to be shared
with the class. Request that they detail the insect's unique characteristics
and its role in the environment.
Encourage the cooperative teams to maintain the mealworm culture and develop
it into a mealworm farm over a three month period. To sustain interest,
teams should design and keep a graph which reflects population growth on
their farm. The legend and symbols used should include larva, pupa and adult
beetles. Cooperative teams might compete for the farm ultimately showing
the greatest increase in population.
Create posters showing examples of the LEPIDOPTERA order of insects. This
order includes the monarch butterfly, gypsy moth, cabbage butterfly, the
cecropia moth and swallowtail butterfly. Provide full color pictures of
each species as guides for students. Display posters when completed.
Start and maintain an ant farm in the classroom. Have students observe habits
and roles of the ants as they function and perform within the social order
of the colony. Study the division of labor and its importance to the order
of the colony.
Master Teachers: Patsy Partin and Mike Sanders
Lesson Plan Database
Thirteen Ed Online