Activities for Your Classroom
Some activites include worksheets in Adobe PDF format. Click
here to download the free Adobe Acrobat reader if you do not
already have it installed on your computer.
What colors are insects? Ask the students to find an insect that
is each of the colors on the Insect
Rainbow Color Chart (PDF).
Long, Longer, and Longest
Print out the Long, Longer,
and Longest Worksheet (PDF) and give each student
Then have a collection of several insects for them to measure.
The students can use the chart keep track of their measurements.
Build a Model Insect
Ask each student to build a model two or three dimensional insect
using construction paper, cardboard, oasis, styrofoam, pieces
of plastic and pipestem cleaners. Ask that they mark or label
the body parts. They can create a new kind of insect or ask that
they all make insects they are familiar with like a firefly, cicada,
lady bug or praying mantis. This is an excellent activity to stimulate
a student's creativity.
Who Lives Here
Take a pillow case, sheet or large piece of white paper. Place
it under a plant or a tree. Shake it to see what insects fall
out. Examine the insects and identify them. Some might fly away,
but others will stay. How many different kinds of insects were
found? Now try another plant and see if the insects are the same
Take a Bug Census
Ask the students to find out what kind of bugs are in a certain
spot. Place a container (like a plastic margarine tub) in the
ground with a bait. The top of the container should be level with
the ground. For bait you can use popcorn, fruit, grains, raw meat,
kitchen waste or candy. Place a stone across the top, but do not
cover it completely. The next day, lift out the container and
see what insects you have caught in the container. The experiment
can be repeated for several days to see if different insects appear.
Put the container in different spots in the garden, like under
a bench or in the lawn, to see if you get different insects in
Make an Insect Collection
Begin by taking a walk in the school yard and look for insects.
See how many different ones you can find.
Make a hatching habitat for a caterpillar so the students can
- To begin make a habitat box. Cut the box's top and bottom
off. Cut a flap in the side of the box that is big enough for
a hand and supplies to go through. Then poke holes in the top
of the box for air holes.
- Place a damp paper towel in the bottom of the box –
A humid environment makes it easier for caterpillars to breathe.
- Place leaves in the bottom of the box. Choose leaves from
the host plant you saw the caterpillars on. Also prop some sticks
up against the box so the caterpillar can crawl up it when it
is ready to pupate.
- Now put the caterpillar in its new home and cover both open
sides of the hatching habitat with clear plastic wrap and tape
it onto the box.
Some Helpful Hints
Temperature is important. Keep the box out of direct sunlight
but in a warm place that is about the same as the average
Add leaves for food as they are needed and put a clean, damp
paper towel in the bottom of the box everyday.
Soon after the butterfly has hatched from its chrysalis and
its wings have dried, take it outside and release it back
Students can record all of the caterpillar's behaviors and
physical changes that they have seen on the Caterpillar
Watch Worksheet (PDF).
- What was the length of the caterpillar?
- How many times did the caterpillar shed its skin and
- How long was it just before it pupated?
- When did it change into a pupa?
- How many days did the pupa stage last?
- When did the adult butterfly emerge from its chrysalis?
- Where and when did you release the butterfly?
- Other important things I observed.
Ask students to look in different parts of their home to see
if they can find different kinds of bugs. Try the bathroom, kitchen,
garage, basement, attic, and don't forget under beds! If they
find something, catch it! Have them bring the bugs to school to
identify. They can record their findings on the Bug
Hunt Worksheet (PDF).
Night Time Insects
There are many insects that like to come out at night when it's
dark. These insects are called nocturnal. Insects rarely seen
during the day can be observed at night by setting up a simple
- Hang a white sheet under an outdoor light or hang the sheet
from the branches of a tree.
- Turn on the porch light or shine a bright light on the sheet
hanging from the tree.
- Soon, because of insects being attracted to the light, you
will see many insects clinging to the sheet.
- Look at them up close and record what you find and how many
different insects come to visit your light trap.
There is a lot of insect activity going on under water in ponds,
lakes, and streams. Seeing it can be tough unless you have an
underwater periscope. They are easy to make and give students
a way to peek into the underwater world of insects.
- Get a large, empty, metal juice can.
- Cut off both ends so you have a metal cylinder.
- Cover one end with clear plastic or plastic wrap.
- Tape the edges of the plastic wrap securely to the can using
- To use the periscope, put the plastic wrapped end of the
can down into the water keeping the open end above water.
- Students now can look around and explore underwater looking
at what insects are living there. Ask the students to record
the insects they see.
Fast Food for Butterflies
Even if you don't have room for a butterfly garden, you can attract
butterflies to your house or school garden by offering them some
- Cut purple, red, and yellow sponges into the shapes of flowers
and place them into a shallow dish or pie tin.
- Mix 1/3 cup of sugar into one cup of water, stirring well
until the sugar dissolves.
- Pour the sugar water into the dish with the sponges almost
to the top of the sponges. The sponges should be wet to the
- Place the dish outside and before long you should see butterflies
landing on the sponges to sip the sugar water. Don't be surprised
if other insects find their way to the sponges to take advantage
of the sweet treats.
Butterfly gardens should provide food plants for caterpillars,
nectar plants for butterflies and a place for butterflies to get
water. By providing the right mix of plants, you can encourage
butterflies to come into the garden.
Caterpillars eat leaves of plants to help them grow and build
up energy to go on the next stage in their lives. Many caterpillars
are very selective in what they will eat. Good larval host plants
to put into the garden include dill, parsley, and carrot (attract
black swallowtails); violets (attract fritillary); milkweeds (attract
monarchs); and clover (attract clouded sulfurs). Adults will lay
eggs on these plants, and the larva that hatch from the eggs will
feed on these plants.
Nectar plants are the plants that the adults use for food. You
should put a variety of plants into your garden so you can draw
as many types of butterflies as possible. Some of the more popular
nectar plants include butterfly weed, black-eyed Susan, verbenas,
zinnias, white alyssum, purple coneflower, goldenrods and asters.
Locate these plants in a sunny area as butterflies fly best when
their body temperature is 85-100 degrees. You might also want
to put some rocks in the garden so butterflies can land on them
and bask in the sun.
Provide a puddling area — a wet spot where male butterflies
gather and drink water. This can be a mud puddle in the corner
of the garden or a bowl filled with wet sand and sunk into the
ground. Males puddle for extra sodium needed for mating.
Butterfly gardens do not need to be big or elaborate. Providing
the basics of food plants for larva, nectar plants for adults
and water should result in having these colorful insects paying
you a visit.
A pile of log or dead leaves is a perfect place for insects to
live. Ask the students to look under decaying leaves, mulch, logs
or rocks to discover what insects are living there. Because it's
moist, dam and dark, some insects find it an ideal environment.
They break down this matter to usable nutrients and speed up the
composting process. Students will find a lot of other animals
in this environment as well. They will find frogs, toads, centipedes,
Design Your Own Bug
As an activity in CP's Fun
Place, students can design their own bug by choosing
the wings, antenna, body, and legs of their bug. They can then
decide what to call it and determine important details about their
bug. When they are done, they can send a picture of it to a friend
with an e-mail post card. Or you could print out their postcard
and it be sent in the mail. And they can e-mail it to C.P. for
his bug collection. C.P. hopes to collect bugs from children around
the world. Click here
to see his bug collection. To answer your questions, you may e-mail
C.P. directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
| Statewide Standards | Getting
Ready | Classroom Activities
Return to Let's Talk About Insects