To illustrate insect diversity and how their niches and lifestyles differ
- Markers or crayons (if drawing pictures)
- Hand lenses
- Bug jars
Before you begin, locate bushes, trees, or other plants that kids can examine. The ideal plant will have a variety of accessible micro-habitats: bark, stems, leaves, fruits, fallen leaves, and especially flowers. Take the kids outside to the plants you have selected, and ask them, individually or working in teams, to record all of the insects and other animals they see living on the plants. They should describe each insect or animal, even if they don’t know its name, where on the plant they found it, and what it was doing (eating, being eaten, pollinating, etc.). They can count insect signs as well, such as chewed leaves, holes in the bark, cocoons, plant galls, tunnels left by leaf miners, and nests. Encourage them to draw pictures of all of the plants and animals they find. They can also catch the individual insects by maneuvering them into glass jars and closing them with the jar lids.
Once they are finished, gather the kids and ask them to share their observations (and pass around their captured insects and drawings). Ask them to relay how many insects and animals they found, where they found them on the plant, and what the animals were doing. You can record each group’s data on a chalkboard or flip chart, combining the observations from the same plant species. Use the results to illustrate the diversity of life that can be found even in small places and how different lifestyles allow diverse living things to coexist. Kids can summarize what they have learned by drawing the plants studied, the insects and animals found on them, and where. They might also prepare illustrated insect guide booklets for school kids and others in the community.
This lesson plan is an activity from the Environmental Activities for Youth Clubs and Camps, a resource developed by the Peace Corps Office of Overseas Programming and Training (OPATS). It was contributed by Peace Corps/Armenia.