Host a Bug Festival - Click to learn more ..

Check out my PBL Project Butterfly Brigade

Visit the Insect Collection Idea page for traps and collection devices!

Also available ...Adopt-An-Insect Word Find (pdf)

Arthropods & Insects - Lessons & Activities

NOTE:  I created many of these lessons for a school-wide Adopt-An-Insect Unit for 5th-8th grade students.  Although we don't do the school-wide project, I do use many of these lessons in my 8th grade classroom during our arthropod classification and insect unit.  A list of useful resources for any insect/arthropod unit is included at the bottom of this page.

Bug Blitz - A Study in Biodiversity (T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
n past years our district had money for field trips to local nature areas for the Butterfly Brigade project; however, budget cuts made it difficult to pay for transportation.  I decided to adapt the project to a smaller level using our school garden, which is a quick walk to our front schoolyard!  I started this new project in the fall of 2016 as part of my Ecology unit for my 8th grade students.  The goal of project was to investigate biodiversity by documenting the bug populations that could be found there.   This project was a huge hit with the students - not only catching/documenting the bugs, but also implementing their strategies in the spring as we redid the school garden.

Download the Bug Blitz Project Information file (includes links to the PPT and worksheets as well as information regarding learning standards.)


Adopt-An-Insect Report Worksheet (T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
For this activity, students "adopt" a specific insect, then cruise the web to complete the worksheet with information about their minibeast. From food sources to life cycles, students gain insight into the life of their insect. Once the worksheets are completed, allow time for the students to analyze similarities and differences between their insects and those of their classmates.

Student Worksheet: Adopt-An-Insect Report (pdf)

Also available ... My seventh grade students focus on Butterflies and Moths for the Adopt-An-Insect unit. The use the Butterflies of Illinois website to complete a Adopt-A-Butterfly Report (pdf). I prepared a list of common butterflies for our state using the ones provided on this site and have each student draw one for the report. I also provide the Adopt-A-Butterfly Report Requirements (pdf) to make sure they know what each section requires. The worksheet provides a map of Illinois since that the state we are in. You can paste a copy of your state map over the Illinois map.


Insect Scavenger Hunt (Adapted from a variety of sources)
Use these scavenger hunts as your students explore a local nature area or your school yard. The pdf version contains three scavenger hunts ranging from easy to hard.

Student Worksheets: Insect Hunts (pdf)


Insect Challenge Project (T. Tomm, Havana Junior High School, Havana, IL)
Take the scavenger hunt to a new level! The page resembles a "Jeopardy" board. Items are divided into 4 topics with 10 items listed under each one. Students search a nature area or schoolyard for insects that match the descriptions listed on the worksheet. This project is assigned after we have discussed the vocabulary from our insect unit (anatomy, defense mechanisms, and metamorphosis) as well as each of the insect orders listed on the worksheet. Need a great resource for your insect unit? Buy a copy of Insects: A Science Activity Book by Pat and Barbara Ward (ISBN # - 1-58037-075-6). This book provides lots of great information pages as well as student Worksheets!

I usually allow 5-6 class periods for students to search our Nature Center garden and schoolyard. Students are also allowed to bring in insects they catch at home. They may earn a total of 220 points if they find insects that match all the descriptions on the worksheet. If you don't have a lot of time, reduce the amount of points needed, such as 150 points for an A+. Calculate the other grades based on the reduced point amount.

Students are required to identify each insect and its order (as specific as possible depending on the type of ID guides you have) to receive credit. Students must also tell me where they want to use a specific insect, since one insect could match two or three different boxes. After I've initialed the box/item, students release the insect and search for another one. Students can only use an insect for one box/item. If they want to use a grasshopper for two different items, they must catch two different grasshoppers.

Student Worksheet: Insect Challenge Project (pdf)

• Since I only have 12 insect nets, I allow students to work in pairs during class. I warn them that if someone is not being a good partner (not helping, goofing around, etc.) that person will not be awarded any points.
• Students are allowed to bring in insects from home. I only award points to the student who brought them in rather than both people in the pair. If students go bug hunting with someone else, I tell them to find two of everything so both of them will earn points.
• I also discuss cheating with the students. They are not allowed to pass an insect to another student/pair as this is similar to giving someone an answer on an assignment or test. Students are also not allowed to catch someone else's insect right after it is released. I tell them to spend their time finding their own insects rather than picking up the leftovers. I have a few that ask, "How will you know?" I tell them that they better hope I don't catch them. If I catch them cheating, they will lose all the points they have collected to that point!
• Emphasize that this is a "catch and release" project. The goal is catch the insect, identify it, and release it back into the garden or schoolyard. Students should be careful not to injure or kill the insect. I also discourage students from bringing in moths and butterflies they catch at home as the wings might be damaged while stored in a container. I also tell them not to bring in insects that sting. We can catch these types of insects in the garden or spot them from a distance!


Birds & Caterpillars
I use this lesson as part of the Adopt-An-Insect unit to investigate defense mechanisms, such as camouflage, eyespots, bright colors, etc. Students take on the role of a bird in search of caterpillars, which are colored pasta pieces. After the hunt for food, students brainstorm a list of other defense mechanisms used by insects. They spend time looking for insects in the Nature Center garden and complete the Daily Defenders worksheet. Complete details and lesson worksheets are provided in the pdf download.

Teacher and Student Worksheets: Birds & Caterpillars (pdf)


Musical Insects (T. (Trimpe) Tomm & C. Koehler, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
Need ideas to spice up your music lessons? Use insects! Check out this list of ideas that can be used to bring the world of insects into your music classes.

Teacher Information Page: Musical Insects (pdf)


Piece by Piece (T. (Trimpe) Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
During this project, students will create an insect puzzle - piece by piece-working from a sample photograph. This great lesson for math class challenges students to use scale to create one piece of a puzzle. When all the pieces are completed, students can piece them together to get the big picture!

Teacher Information Page: Piece by Piece (pdf)


The Butterfly Project (Sue Hallmark, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
During this project created by one of our junior high math teachers, students used rubber bands to enlarge photographs of butterflies.

Teacher Information Page: The Butterfly Project (pdf)


Torn Insect Art (Submitted by Kelly Matlick, Illinois)
Challenge your students to create an insect using their knowledge of insect anatomy.

Student Worksheet: Insect Art (pdf)


Insect Mania (T. (Trimpe) Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
One requirement of the Adopt-An-Insect project in 7th grade is to complete an Insect Mania project. I have provided several ideas for insect related projects including Insect Jeopardy, Butterfly Fact Cards, and more! The projects created by my students are shared with K-4 students at our elementary school.

Student Worksheet: Insect Mania (pdf)


Megabeast (T. (Trimpe) Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
During this project, students are challenged to create models of insects from the ancient world. Using an insect specimen and a scale process, students will design and construct a model that is ten times the size of the original.

(1) Students will need to obtain a preserved specimen of an insect or detailed photograph.
(2) Allow time for students to draw a detailed diagram of their insect. The diagram should be labeled with as much information as possible, such as overall length, width, girth, wingspan as well as details of the parts found on your insect. Accurate measurements are important for an accurate finished project.
(3) All measurements need to be converted to scale measurements for your model. Students should record their calculations in the space provided in Part B and note the new measurements on their diagram in Part A.
(4) Challenge students to create a 3-D “megabeast” model of their insect using available materials. The model should be as realistic as possible and be able to hang from a ceiling hook. Students will need to consider using materials that will be able to create a large project with as little weight as possible. A few suggestions are paper mache, tissue paper, sheets of plastic, fabric, and netting.

Student Worksheet: Megabeast (pdf)


A Bug's Life (T. (Trimpe) Tomm & L. Range, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
Challenge your students to develop a presentation for their classmates related to life in "Bug Land", a land where the people have been magically transformed into insects. Students utilize Internet resources to investigate their insect (foods, habitats, adaptations, etc.) and work as a team to create a 5-10 minute presentation.

Student Worksheet: A Bug's Life (pdf)


Adopt-An-Insect Bingo Game (T. (Trimpe) Tomm, Havana Junior High School, Havana, IL)
I use this game to review the vocabulary covered during our annual Adopt-An-Insect unit. The download contains a bingo card as well as clue cards. I print the clues on an overhead transparency, then cut them apart and put on the overhead during the game. I give the kids a roll of Smarties to use as markers, but warn them that don't get to eat them unless they are good. I also challenge the kids tell me what each term means when they read off their bingos. I encourage the students to make notes on their bingo card during the game so they can use the page to study for the unit test.

Student Worksheet: Adopt-An-Insect Bingo Game Card (pdf)

Also available ... World of Insects Word Find Puzzle (pdf) by Tracy (Trimpe) Tomm - Challenge your students to find all the words in the word list! Once they are done with the puzzle, have them create a concept map on the back of the page using at least 15 of the terms in the puzzle.


Internet Scavenger Hunts & Other Ideas
Eyewitness Insect Video Quiz (pdf) - I have my students take notes during the video to help them on the quiz or you can have them complete the quiz as they watch the video (it goes in order).
Insect Jokes Page (pdf) - Use this page of bug jokes for extra credit or just extra laughs!
Internet Bug Hunt (pdf) - Use the sites listed in the Insect Links section of the Kid Zone Archive document to learn more about insects!
.Adopt-An-Insect Word Find (pdf) - Challenge your students to find all the insect-related terms and names of common insects in this word search puzzle.


Project Resources

Online Resources - Explore this site for lesson ideas and bug-related activities! - What's Bugging You? (pdf) - Download this activity booklet for lesson ideas exploring those little things that bug us - pests.

Crickets in the Classroom - Visit this site for an assortment of ideas to use common field and house crickets to teach measurement and observation. The unit also includes basic information on cricket biology and introduces students to the scientific literature.

Discovery School Insect World - Information, lessons, and links for the Insect World video!

Insectclopedia -Visit this site for a large collection of links to insect lesson plans!

Kentucky Entomology for Kids - Visit this site for great resources from games to information. They offer newsletters, links, detailed information, and lots of fun things for kids!  Don't miss the Bug-Go game!

Orkin Learning Center - Explore this area of the Orkin website for lesson ideas for your insect unit. You can also schedule a visit from the Orkin man for your classroom!

Wings, Stings, and Leggy Things (Insects of Illinois) - A great resource for background information on insects as well as lesson ideas and puzzles. Visit Illinois Department of Natural Resource's online ordering page to find insect-related materials (activity books and posters) for your bug festival or classroom projects.

ZOOM Insect Printouts - Visit this page for coloring pages for a variety of insects.

Printed Resources:

Golden Guide Identification Guides - A great tool for young entomologists! Check the “New & Used” prices at Amazon to get a set for your classroom. Insects - ISBN: 030724055X Butterflies & Moths - ISBN: 1582381364

Insectaganza Excitement - Check out the four entomology manuals for K-6 students offered by the 4-H Cooperative Curriculum System! The set of 4 books costs $15.95 and a great value for all the information and activities included!  Check with your local extension office to see if they will provide copies for you! 

Insects: A Science Activity Book by Pat and Barbara Ward
Published by Mark Twain Media, Inc. (#CD-1813)
ISBN # - 1-58037-075-6

Insect Identification Guide by Gary A. Dunn and Dianna K. Dunn
Published by the Young Entomologists’ Society, ISBN #1-884256-16-3

Insects by Edward P. Ortleb and Richard Cadice
Published by Milliken Publishing Company, ISBN #1-55863-095-3

Insects Thematic Unit by Kathee Gosnell
Published by Teacher Created Materials, Inc., ISBN # 1-55734-592-9

Life Science by Daryl Vriesenga - A great resource for any 5-8 biology unit!
Published by Instructional Fair (#IF8756), Grand Rapids, MI
ISBN #: 0-88012-828-3

Mighty Miniatures: Introducing Young Entomologists by Michael Jeffords and Susan Post
Published by Illinois Natural History Survey, 607 E Peabody Drive, Champaign, IL 61820

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The Science Spot was developed in March 1999 by Tracy Tomm Science Teacher @ Havana Junior High, Havana, IL.  Activities, lessons, & worksheets available on any page of this web site are intended for use by a single teacher in his/her classroom or to share at educational conferences.  Reproduction for commercial use or profit is not permitted without the consent of Tracy (Trimpe) Tomm. Visit my Frequently Asked Questions page for more details.