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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 journals.
ITV Series
Take A Look I, Insects
Reading Rainbow, Bugs (check local broadcast times and watch copyright on the Reading Rainbow series).
Learning Objectives
Students will be able to:
Pre-Viewing Activities
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.
Focus Viewing
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?"

Viewing Activities

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 clocks also.

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 the differences.

Butterfly - Thin antennae with bumps on the ends. Thin bodies.
Moth- Fluffy antennae. Fat bodies. Students record in journals.
Post-Viewing Activities
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.
Action Plan
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

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