I mentioned once before the fact that we would be taking the Apologia Science leap for this school year. Since we homeschool year round, that leap has already taken place and we are well on our way to discovering God’s flying creatures! (I have to interject here that I am still VERY impressed by this curriculum as we get further and further into the book…that is saying a lot!)
We decided to do the first Lesson for an overview of the course and to set up our notebooks for the year.
Then, we took the suggestion of the author to jump to the insect unit during a season when insects were abundant and therefore, easier to observe and study.
What better time to study insects than SUMMER?!
So far we have stuck a dragonfly in the refrigerator, we have tried to drown a cricket, and we have chased and failed to catch hundreds of other insects. (Please don’t send PETA after me…you’ll just have to buy the curriculum yourself to fully understand what I’m talking about here. And no, it is not cruel and unusual…ok, maybe a bit unusual…)
Even if you don’t own (or don’t want to own) the Apologia science curriculum, you still ought to consider immersing your children in some bug culture this summer. I know I have gained a whole new appreciation for these tiniest of God’s creatures.
Here are some ideas for a little mini-unit study on insects:
Enchanted Learning Insect Printouts
Enchanted Learning has quite an array of worksheets and information on just about anything you can think of. The freebie side of the house is phenomenal. I can only imagine what you’d have access to with a paid membership.
Homemade Playdough Insects
We use an easy recipe that has been passed down through the generations:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1 Tbsp oil
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup cold water
12 drops food coloring
Cook a few minutes until mixture forms a ball. Store in airtight container.
(This playdough is far superior to anything you can buy in the store. You don’t end up with scads of little half-dried playdough pieces all over the house. That is well worth the short amount of time it takes to prepare the homemade stuff.)
Once you’ve got your playdough made, have the children fashion it into an oversized model of an insect. For small children, this can look like…
(what is that??)
to something a bit more anatomically correct…
(Megan’s version…complete with something to eat)
Be a Naturalist
Go outside and let the children run all over the yard looking for bugs. Catch them for a closer look or just observe them in their natural habitat. Encourage the children to describe the insect in detail. Consider having them write a short story, poem, or essay on one of the insects they found.
Act It Out
Learn about the lifecycle of a butterfly and then have the children act it out.
Plan a picnic
Read The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle and then plan a picnic with some or all of the foods mentioned (don’t forget to pack a few “ants on a log.”) Leave a few crumbs off to the side to attract some insects for a little after-dinner entymology.
Speaking of Eric Carle
Take advantage of one of these free unit studies that go along with his many insect books! (Curious about those lapbooks you see? Take a look at this AMAZING lapbook tutorial by Cindy Rushton! I hope to have a bit more on this method of firmly entrenching knowledge in your children’s brains a little later on in the school year.)
Try this Insect Scavenger Hunt! There are 3 different age levels to choose from making this a great family activity.
Do a bit of Bug Math
A now out-of-print curriculum we used to use had us make these oh-so-cute lady bug counting manipulatives.
red, black, & white construction paper
Make a black circle for the head, a larger white circle for the underneath body, an even larger red circle (cut in half) for the wings, and several smaller black circles for the “counting dots” on the ladybug’s body.
Attach the red “wings” overlapping on the white “body” with the black “head” underneath. Paste a certain number of “spots” on the wings and then write the coresponding cardinal number on the body part of the ladybug. The wings hide the number until the child has counted the number of dots and can spread the wings to reveal the answer.
This is a great way to reinforce numbers and counting for younger children.
For older children, add, subtract, multiply, and divide insect legs (remember, there are 6), insect body parts (remember, there are 3), insect antennae (that’s right, there are 2), and any combination thereof.