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Insects Co-op Class (upper elementary)

Jodi shared her Insects Class plans (K-3rd) with us last week.
This week she is sharing her plans for upper elementary.
Thanks, Jodi!

What's Bugging You? Insects Class for Homeschool Co-op

I taught another co-op class about insects to six upper elementary aged children. We also studied a different insect for each of the nine weeks we were in session. You can download the syllabus here

We used the (almost) same schedule of insects each week as the younger class, but we read different books and did some different activities geared more toward the older age group.

I sent information home each week from Pet Bugs: A Kid's Guide to Catching and Keeping Touchable Insects by Sally Kneidel so students could find the insects we studied and keep them for observation.

After discussing the three body parts of an insect, we made a bug catcher made from 2 liter bottles. We cut the top half of the bottle off and place a piece of fruit into the bottle. Then turn the top half inward and push into the bottle. The bugs will go into the bottle for the fruit but will not be able to get back out.

We played a firefly game using small flashlights and a dark room to show the differences between a male and a female firefly’s sequence. I gave each of the kids sequence cards and they had to copy that sequence with their flashlight and find the person in the room with the same sequence.

Firefly Craft

We tried to find out how easy it is for a butterfly to break out of a chrysalis by wrapping each other up in toilet paper. We also talked about the differences between a butterfly and a moth by using a Venn Diagram.

Learning about Butterflies

I purchased 6 rubber grasshoppers from a science catalog for the kids to look at, measure and analyze during our study of hoppers. We determined the gender of the grasshopper by the presence of an ovipositor, looked at the different mouth parts, measured the length of the hind legs and looked for the presence of spiracles.

During our ant week, we took different types of food outside as an “ant restaurant” and watched for ants to come dine with us. We used cheese, fruit, peanut butter and crackers to see if ants prefer a certain type of food.

When we studies bees, we melted beeswax a bought online and small glass bowls to make beeswax candles. They used the extra beeswax nuggets to mold with their hands to form a sculpture of their choice. 

Disease Carrying Insects
For our last week, we discussed disease carrying insects – ticks that carry lyme disease, mosquitoes that carry malaria and fleas that spread the bubonic plaque in the 19th century. Since this subject was not a “fun class”, I made these kids neat snacks the resembled the different insects we had studied.

Both classes enjoyed a field trip together. We learned more about lifecycles, classifying, and did some observation.

Insects Co-op Class (grades K-3)

Summer is coming, and so are the BUGS! 

A few years ago, my friend, Jodi taught two insect classes at co-op. I've asked her to guest post about the class. Most children are fascinated by insects, and this would make a fun class or club for this summer or fall. A big thanks to Jodi for sharing her hard work with us! If you want, you can follow her Homeschool: Insects Pinterest Board.


For our Fall semester 2012, I taught a co-op class about insects to 13 children (K-3rd grade). We studied a different insect for each of the 9 weeks we were in session.

I used Janice VanCleave’s books Insects and Spiders and Play and Find Out About Bugs: Easy Experiments for Young Children for many of the educational activities we did. I also found several fun crafts on pinterest.

You can download the syllabus by clicking on the image below.

What's Bugging You? Insects Co-op Class Syllabus

The first week we determined how to identify an insect.
We did a craft using egg cartons to label the three parts of an insect and sang the song “Head, Thorax, Abdomen” to the tune of “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” to help the kids remember those 3 parts.

Head, thorax, abdomen, abdomen
Head, thorax, abdomen, abdomen
Compound eyes, two antennae and some wings
Head, thorax, abdomen, abdomen.

I purchased compound eye lenses from Oriental Trading Company for the kids to take home along with a magnified bug catcher for each child to catch bugs in throughout the semester.


Each week we read at least one book about the insect for that week. It's a good idea to grab extra books from your library about each insect in case you have time leftover at the end of class.

Many of the books we read were Eric Carle books:

We also used Judy Allen's engaging Backyard Books to learn true facts about each insect.

At the beginning of each class, the students had an opportunity to Show and Tell of any insects they had caught that week at home.

Here are examples of some of the fun paper and food crafts we created for each insect:

For fireflies, we made a firefly body from construction paper and used yellow tissue paper for the abdomen, then taped a cheap flashlight I got from Oriental Trading to the back.
Craft Link

We also made a snack with round crackers, cream cheese and slices of kiwi to resemble a firefly. 


For butterflies, we colored a paper butterfly and glued it to a popsicle stick. Then we rolled in the wings and inserted it into a toilet paper tube colored to look like a chrysalis.


We also made a life cycle of the butterfly on a paper plate and used beans for the eggs, rotini for the caterpillar, shell macaroni for the chrysalis and bow tie macaroni for the butterfly. 


Grasshoppers and Crickets
We made crickets using black combs and pipe cleaners. Craft Link

We also learned more about vibrations and sounds. 


We made cute little dragonflies by painting and gluing plastic spoons and knives. We also added some "compound" eyes.


During our ant week, we made a paper example of what an ant tunnel would look like with 5 rooms – nursery, food, trash, Queen and eggs – with tunnels leading to each room.


After we read the book, Hey Little Ant by Phillip M. Hoose, we determined what the boys should do with the ant.

We used paper plates to make bees with wax paper wings. I pre-painted all the paper plates to save time and mess in class.


When we studied bees, we did a neat experiment to show how pollination works. I gave all the kids paper lunch bags with flowers glued to the front for them to color. I also gave them paper bees that had two holes at the bottom for their fingers that they colored. When they were done, we put Cheetos in their bags, asked them to put their bees on their hands and eat the “pollen”. Then they “flew” to their neighbors flower and landed there. The cheese from the Cheetos remained on their friends flower. 


We made another paper plate craft when we learned about ladybugs.

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We also learned about symmetry when we studied both the butterfly and the ladybug. We talked about how our bodies are also symmetrical – one eye and ear on each side of our face, one arm and leg on each side of our body – and which shapes are symmetrical – circles, squares, some triangles (only if you split them a certain way), etc.

The last class, we talked about why spiders are not insects – only 2 body parts and 8 legs instead of six.

I used painter’s tape to make a web on the floor and we put plastic bugs on the web. The kids walked on the tape to pick up five insects that were trapped in the web.

We also made a web in a doorway with the sticky side facing the kids and they used cotton balls to throw at the web to see if they could get them to stick.


If you have questions for Jodi, please leave them in the comments, and I will make sure she gets them.

Next week, Jodi will share her plans for the upper elementary class she taught. Thanks again, Jodi!

Little Builders Co-op Class

Little Builders Preschool Homeschool Co-op Class

Looking for a fun preschool class that will keep them learning, busy, and having fun? Little Builders fits all three categories!

Little Builder's Co-op Class

We started every class with a book about building. Here was our line-up:

Week 1: I Want to Be a Builder

Week 2: Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel

Week 3: The Toolbox

Week 4: Roadwork

Week 5: Cross a Bridge

Week 6: Alphabet Under Construction

Week 7: Dig a Tunnel

Week 8: Building a House, This Is the House That Jack Built

Week 9: The Three Little Pigs

Week 10: Into the Sky

Weeks 11-12: Review favorites 

Little Builder's Co-op Class

Each week had a theme and after reading and discussing the story, we would start on our activities. I tried to link as many of the activities as possible in the class syllabus

Little Builders Preschool Homeschool Co-op Class

Little Builder's Co-op Class

Additional Notes:

For sanding the blocks, you can probably get some scrap wood pieces at a hardware store for free.

Lowe's also provided our child-sized hammers for free; we just had to ask.

We pre-drilled holes for using the screwdriver, but the children used a real screwdriver with a real screw.

Little Builder's Co-op Class

Paint Roller Letter Game: Draw large letters on the pavement with sidewalk chalk. Give each child a wet-with-water paint roller and let them wash off the letters as you call out the letter names.

We didn't make our big tunnel out of boxes. We used a table and blankets instead (easier!).

The following snacks: brick houses, melon towers, party sandwiches, and cubed cake sculptures were all found in Cooking Art, a fantastic recipe book for kids. 

Little Builder's Co-op Class

Always have different kinds of blocks on hand in case you have extra time. The kids LOVED simply building with blocks! We brought in Duplo, wooden blocks, Lincoln Logs, Kid K'nex, etc. 

The cost of this class should probably be $20 and not $15. 

I have a Let's Build It! board on Pinterest where I pinned many of the ideas for this class, and where I continue to pin other preschool building fun! 

Little Builder's Co-op Class