In this lesson students investigate the life cycle of ants,
ladybugs,and butterflies. Students have experiences with live insects. Math
extensions on symmetry and telling time are included. Literature is used
with hands-on learning activities. Students record their finding in science
Take A Look I, Insects
Reading Rainbow, Bugs (check local broadcast times and watch copyright on
the Reading Rainbow series).
Students will be able to:
- List the four stages in the life cycle of a insect
- Describe the features of a ladybug while viewing a live ladybug
- Define symmetry
- Move the hands on a miniature clock to the correct time
- Observe how ants make homes in new dirt
- Picture books
- Ant Cities by Arthur Dorros
- The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
- Large jar with dirt and ants
- Live ladybugs (available at many garden shops)
- Small viewing boxes for each student
- Magnifying glasses for each student
- Small pieces of food to give ants (raisin,crumbs,sugar etc.)
- Science journals
- Large demonstration clocks and small individual clocks for each student.
- Small mirrors
- 1 paper plate for each student
- 4 leaf shapes small enough to fit all four on a paper plate
- 4 different kinds of macaroni for each student (acini di pepe, tri-colored
rotini,sea shell and bowties)
About a week before you begin this lesson on life cycles make
a home for some ants. Fill a glass container with soil within two inches
from the top. Put a colony of ants into the jar. Add a cotton ball that
is damp and dipped in honey into the jar so the ants will have food. Poke
tiny holes in the lid. Wrap a dark cloth around the sides of the jar. When
you are ready to begin the lesson show the class the jar. Ask what they
think is in the jar. When they have guessed unwrap the jar and let them
see the tunnels rooms, and passageways.
Read the book Ant Cities by Arthur Dorros to the students. Have the students
draw a picture of what they have discover about ants and their homes.
It is important that the students have something specific to
look for when you show the tapes. They need to be given some responsibility
for viewing. Teacher talk:"Class in the first section from the video
INSECTS look carefully for something that the ants are carrying. Try to
remember the name of what it is. Also find out if ants can carry things
that are much larger than they are?"
1. START the video tape of Take A Look, INSECTS about half way through
the tape where Kate is kneeling in the field and has discovered an ant hill.
PLAY until the end of the section on ants. Ask student what they
remember the white things the ants were carrying are called (pupa) why couldn't
we see the eggs? (they were too tiny).
Can ants carry heavy things (yes, much bigger than they are.)
2. Get out the jar with the ants in it and have the children guess which
of the following things that ants could carry. Raisin, grain of rice, grain
of sugar, birdseed, piece of sandwich. Then have students add these items
to the jar and assign students to watch what happens to each item. Have
students record what they have found. Remind them of what they learned in
the book on Ants about how much an ant can lift (5 times their weight--if
we could do that we could lift a car!)
3. Ask students if ant babies look the same as adult ants. Show overhead
(found at end of lesson) of the 4 stages of an ants life. Have students
record and draw the four stages in their science journals.
4. CONTINUE PLAYING the video where you stopped the day before until
you get to the section where they focus on a ladybug. If you have a four
head VCR FREEZE FRAME on the frame of the ladybug. If not just stop
the tape and turn it off at this point. Ask the students the name of the
insect they just saw or are viewing (ladybug).
5. STOP tape and read the book The Grouchy Ladybug to the class.
This is a great book that has other extensions besides just telling the
students about ladybugs and their diet. As the story unfolds something new
happens every hour. It is fun to have a student volunteer stand up in the
front of the class and move a large display clock as you read the story.
If small individual clocks are available have the students each move their
6. In a viewing box pass out a ladybug to each student. Have them view the
ladybug from all sides. Describe their ladybug to their partner. Do all
the ladybug in our class look the same? Do you think that ladybugs change
like the ants we studied yesterday.
7. Place the transparency of the life cycle of the ladybug on the overhead.
Discuss the life cycle changes of the ladybug.
8. A math extension to introduce symmetry fits in nicely at this point.
A. Ask a student to stand up in front of the class. Tell the students to
imagine a line drawn down the middle of the child from head to toe. Hold
a piece of yarn in front of the child from the top of his head to his toes.
B. Point out the eye on each side of the yarn. Ask the students what things
are the same on each side of the yarn. (Ears,arms, hands, elbows, toes,
legs, knees, feet, etc.)
C. Introduce the word symmetry. Tell them that their body has symmetry,
it is the same on each side of the yarn.
D. Now have the students look at their ladybug again. Can they find the
line of symmetry?
9. Pass out the black line of the ladybug and have the students draw in the
ladybug spots on their pattern. They may want to fold the paper in half
before they begin. Color the ladybug to match the one on their desk. Make
sure they include antennae, eyes, legs, wings and wing covers.
10. In this lesson we will be using the video Reading Rainbow, BUGS. Have
the video ready to begin at the story of the monarch butterfly migration
to the Sierra Cinqui Mountains in Mexico. It is located at the end of the
video, this is a really fascinating section and lasts about 8 minutes. PLAY
until the end of the butterfly section.
11. STOP and remove tape. Ask student to remember what they learned
about symmetry the day before. What does symmetry have to do with the butterflies
they just viewed? If you have posters, books or drawing of butterflies place
them around the room for students to view. Have the students draw a butterfly
in their journals. Instruct them to remember the line of symmetry and demonstrate
what they remember as they draw their butterflies.
12. Read the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle to the students
at this point. After the book is read again ask the students to explain
the process of metamorphose. This would be a good time to tell the students
about the differences between butterflies and moths. Make a chart to show
Butterfly - Thin antennae with bumps on the ends. Thin bodies.
Moth- Fluffy antennae. Fat bodies. Students record in journals.
Have students make a butterfly life cycle on a paper plate.
Each student will need four different kinds of macaroni to represent each
of the four phases in the life cycle. Use acini de pepe for the eggs, tri-color
rotini for larva, seashell for pupa and bowties for the butterfly. Have
them glue 4 leafs made from green paper, equal distance apart on a paper
plate. Glue the macaroni on the leafs and label each. Draw arrows to indicate
which stage follows the other.The arrows should form a circle.
This lesson will provide interest in taking a closer look at
the many types of insects around us. Encourage students to bring in different
samples of insects they have captured. Remind students to make sure they
are extremely careful with live creatures. They should provide food for
their insect (whatever the insect was found on) in their jars. Return insects
to the environment where they were found
Have students work in small groups to create a story roll-up. Give each
group a strip of butcher paper. Have students retell the story by drawing
the egg, caterpillar, food, cocoon and the beautiful butterfly. Let students
retell the story as they unroll the butcher paper.
Students may wish to work in small groups and make posters of insects they
have seen around their school or home.
Do more with symmetry by giving students small mirrors to find the symmetry
in other objects in the classroom. They can also check the pictures they
have drawn in their journals as they have worked on this lesson.
Choose insects of various size and measure the length of their bodies.
List as many things as they can think of that have six sides like the shape
of the cell in a beehive.
Compare a colony of social insects such as ants or bees, to humans listing
their specialized functions.
Have students collect insects and bring them to class to classify.
Draw a large diagram of your favorite insect. Label each part correctly.
Master Teacher: Mary McMurtrey
Lesson Plan Database
Thirteen Ed Online