In this two month long ecology unit students will study insects through a Guided Inquiry Approach. Through this approach, the instructor provides the hands-on problem to be investigated, sets parameters and provides the tools and necessary materials for the investigations. Students are expected to devise their own procedures to solve the problem. Students will discover relationships in experimentation technique and will learn to make generalizations from the data they collect.

This science unit begins asking the students to draw pictures of insects from their own memories. After comparing their drawings to those of their other team members the team makes generalizations about what makes something an insect. A KWL chart will allow students to collect information from their prior experiences and put them down on paper.

What are the criteria for something to be considered being alive? Students will discover the differences between biotic and abiotic structures and come up with a set of criteria for being alive. Plants and animals have similar but different structures. On a cellular level, students find the differences between animals and plants; the differences that separate the animal kingdom from the plant kingdom.

Using arthropod picture cards and rubber arthropods students will begin to learn classification skills and will make groups from these animals. Arthropods are animals with outside skeletons called exoskeletons. Spiders and insects are part of this group of animals.  Students will discover how insects are a specialized group inside the family of arthropods.  Students will keep comparing insects and in one activity will measure insects creating an insect comparison graph. Another set of drawings, this time from real insects, will give the students a real basis for comparison of insects so as to come up with a set of characteristics that determine criteria for being an insect. Going to the internet, students gather information about a single insect and go into depth making drawings, and providing information about the classification behavior and habitat of that insect.

The growth and development of various species of insect is explored. The children use picture cards of various growth states and work together to uses the cards to make a circle of life. The change insects go through from birth to death is called metamorphosis. Some baby insects look exactly like the adult, just smaller. This is called incomplete metamorphosis. Others go through a stage where the infant, goes into a pupa or cocoon and emerges a time later as a completely different looking animal.  Males and females of a species have differences other than the obvious. Size, shape and color help one separate males from females. Examining the Cecropia Moth and Monarch Butterfly, students make drawings and note the differences that give them the ability to tell the difference between males and females of these species. Students then apply this knowledge to help them make generalizations about other insects.

Through a few days of dissection on a grasshopper, students discover firsthand knowledge about both the outside as well as the interior of this insect. During this activity, students will use the compound microscope to view sections of the grasshoppers body for closer observation.  Looking at each others specimens, they will note that females are larger than males and that females contain ovaries. Ovaries look like rice and are very obvious inside the body of this female insect. Teachers may wish to send students reminders of activities that need to be handed in, weekly newsletters of classroom activities, and attachments such as pictures of grasshoppers via e-mail. We have currently uploaded a web site that explains the unit, contains all the worksheets as PDF files and uses grasshopper dissection manuals that were created by the eighth grade life science classes. The address of this web site is

Insects build homes, tunnel for food and create architecture for one reason or another. In this Bug Camp unit, students examine several pieces of insect architecture, questioning why and how they were built. Insects work together as a team to build these pieces of architecture and have definite behaviors. More of these behaviors are noted in the experimentation of a French scientist named Jean Henri Fabre. Fabre worked with Giant Peacock Moths. Students read about his experiments, examine his work and make concept maps detailing his scientific studies. The behavior section of this unit ends with an auditorium presentation of A Bugs Life. In this movie, the behaviors of ants and grasshoppers are examined in cartoon format.

How insects fit into the scheme of things are now examined.  Why are there some many more insects on this planet than there are any other species of animal? Food chains, Food webs and how energy moves through the ecosystem are explored. Many sections of this unit are supplemented with readings, which are also available from the website.

Sally Notebook
Pages For BUG CAMP


Some Journal Worksheets

Drawing Insects from Memory [PDF\21K]

Food Chains and Energy [PDF\77K]

Energy Pyramid
[PDF\ 94K]

Drawing Insects from Life [PDF\55k]

Grasshopper Dissection [PDF\2.2M]

Haiku Poem [PDF\24k]

Insect Wheel Foldable [PDF\50k]

Insect Word Search [PDF\71K]

KWL Chart [PDF\48k]

Microscope Sheet [PDF\29K]

My Insect ID [PDF\21K]

Unit Contract  [PDF\19k]

What I Learned About Insects FOLDABLE [PDF\55k]

What I Learned\Questions I Still Have [PDF\112K]

Insect Structures [PDF\57K]

Growing Up Metamorphosis [PDF\68k]

Mating And Reproduction [PDF\24k]

Reading - Mating and Reproduction [PDF\127k]

Energy Pyramid [PDF\67k]

Food Chains [PDF\69K]

Compare and Contrast - Cells [PDF\146K]

Parts of a Cell [PDF\139k]

Classification [PDF\47K]

Insect Characteristics [PDF\29K]

Making Groups [PDF\27K]

Journal\Project Cover [PDF\32K]

A Bug's Life [PDF\346K]

Insect Behavior - Fabre [PDF\1.15M]

More Reading

How And Why Wonder Book Of Insects [PDF\55.1MB]

How And Why Wonder
 Book Of Ants And Bees



The Louis Armstrong Middle School
32-02 Junction Blvd.,
East Elmhurst, New York
(718) 335-7500