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Posts Tagged ‘anatomy’

Build a Bug

It’s quite easy to make a realistic insect in your classroom, including all the parts an insect should have.

Materials: egg cartons pre-cut, pipe cleaners, paint and paintbrushes, googly eyes (optional)

This little girl is working on her insect in a public program at Brooklyn Children’s Museum. As you can see, we cut egg cartons down to three-segment size (triple wide egg cartons divide perfectly). Each kid received the pre-segmented body, representing the head, thorax, and abdomen. To the head, she attached eyes and two antennas. Right now, she is painting her insect however she likes. The final step will be attaching 6 pipe cleaners for legs to the middle segment – the thorax. Pipe cleaners are ideal because they actually bend, just like the jointed legs of an insect. If you choose to attach wings, they would also go on the thorax. Finally, the egg carton is strong and tough enough to almost count as an exoskeleton.

Try it out in your classroom! We would love to see the bugs your students make – email them to us, gogreen@brooklynkids.org.

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You’ve already learned about the parts of arthropods and the parts of insects. How will your students remember all those new words? A song will help! Sing this one to the tune of “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”:

Head, thorax, abdomen, abdomen

Head, thorax, abdomen, abdomen

Jointed legs and exoskeleton

Head, thorax, abdomen, abdomen

Have them do gestures at the same time to reinforce what the terms mean. Tap your head. Since a thorax is where the insects’ legs attach, hold up three fingers on each hand, place them in front of your chest and wave them like legs. For abdomen, rub your tummy. To show jointed legs, bend and flex your legs. And, finally, for exoskeleton, make your hands into fists and rap them on the opposite arm to demonstrate a hard exterior.

This song works well with all ages, from Pre-K to high school biology (even if you might get some rolled eyes with the big kids). We hope your students enjoy it! Check back tomorrow for an insect-making art activity.

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In the educator’s guide, My Green Community, we have a section focusing on insects. Students build a pitfall to humanely trap insects, observe them, learn basic insect anatomy, and sing a song to reinforce the new words they have learned.

Due to space constraints, we didn’t get into the difference between arthropods and insects. So let’s break it down here.

Arthropods are a sub-group of invertebrates (animals with no backbone). Arthropods, then, are divided into their own subgroups:

  • Insects (cricket; bee and wasp; butterfly and moth; cicada; ant; grasshopper; praying mantis; firefly, ladybug and every kind of beetle)
  • Arachnids (tick; mite; scorpion; spider including tarantula)
  • Crustaceans (all kinds of crab; lobster; shrimp; crawdad; barnacle; pill bug also called roly poly)
  • Other! (like centipede and millipede)

All of those animals are arthropods and they all have two things in common: jointed legs (legs that can bend) and an exoskeleton (their skeleton is on the outside of their bodies). What makes an insect different from other arthropods?

A section from the educator's guide

Insects, in addition to jointed legs and an exoskeleton, have a body divided into three sections: head, thorax, and abdomen.

And that’s enough for now! Check back over the next few days for more insect and arthropod activities…

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