Insects Unit: Overview

Through 10 sessions and 6 exercises, this is an Art + Science journey into the amazing and complex world of insects. The exercises are using a large array of art and design techniques.



Insects Everywhere
Art/Design: Drawing & writing (1 session)

This is an introductory exercise to the Insects unit. What better exercise than have living insects to observe for an entire session?

Learning how to look – and look again – is a wonderful way for the young students to concentrate their attention. By really looking and observing they learn how to see things much better. Young students can totally do this. This is about drawing what we see and not what we think we are seeing. Nature is totally awesome and we all need to pay more attention to the world around us.


What Makes an Insect an Insect?
Art: Design challenge (1 session)

Insects have six legs and three body parts: head, thorax, abdomen. Most but not all insects have wings.

The students create flexible compositions with recycled material. The material is not glued and can be reused. The students document the different versions with a tablet and keep files that can be shared on a screen and critiqued, or printed. It shows the students that we the creative process is about trying many times, and not necessarily stop after the first version is done.


Life Cycles of Insects
Art/Design: A Mobile  about the Complete metamorphosis of the Monarch butterfly (3 sessions)

Some insects go through distinct stages of egg, larva, pupa, adult (examples: butterflies, ants): this is the complete metamorphosis.

The mobile represents the four stages of the complete metamorphosis of the monarch butterfly and takes 3 x one hour session. It is a great way for the 2nd grade students to understand the life cycle of the monarch butterfly. The exercise is more interesting if you can have real monarch butterflies in the classroom! This time the students were very lucky to have 2 cages where some caterpillars and with the Monarch’s host plant: the milkweed. All the caterpillar made their chrysalis and four beautiful Monarch butterfly hatched. The students could observe the caterpillar, the chrysalis and the butterfly. They all made their mobile independently, using various materials and techniques. This exercise can be adapted to other types of life cycles.


Social Insects: Ants and Termites
Art/Design: Collaborative installation representing an ant colony (2 sessions)

Most insects live solitary lives, but some are social, such as ants, honeybees, termites, and wasps.

This exercise is co-teach with Rosemary’s second grade teachers. The students individually create a template of an ant with light cardboard by drawing and cutting the shape. They use a brush and paint to make stencils on paper. They organize collectively the colony on a wall by creating a large installation with all the ants and their habitat. When the colony is installed, it is time for a class discussion about the experience.


Armored Tanks of the Insect World
Art: Watercolor (2 sessions)

Beetles are amazing! They stand out in the insect world because of their heavy armor, or protective covering. In addition to their exoskeletons, their wings provide protection.

Through observation of a document, drawing with pencil and with oil pastel, and using watercolor inks, the students create a collection of the amazing features the beetles display.

Alternate option taken: the students pick the insect they previously wrote a report on.


Friend or Foe?
Art/Design: Poster/flyer  (1 session)

Insects can be helpful ( pollination; products like honey, beeswax, and silk; eat harmful insects)

and harmful (destroy crops, trees, wooden buildings, clothes; carry disease; bite or sting).

The students make a poster/flyer to share information about how insects are helpful or harmful.They gather information about one insect and his important role (positive or negative).

They use their tablets to take photos of their composition (that they never glue so that they are flexible and workable) and add text to it. They save several version of the image on their tablet.

They choose one version to share and/or print. A class discussion can take place with projection of the posters/flyers for everyone to see.