"Crazy Critters"


Grade Level: 8
Lesson Length: Two 50-minute class sessions
Activities: Trip to park for bug collection
Pet bug- journal entries for two weeks
Colored and labeled drawing of insect to be tumed in with written report
Research insect and write 3 page report
Share time in groups of three


The purpose of this lesson is to allow students the opportunity to explore and collect insects from a local park. The students will return to class and record the habitat in which the insect lived. They will identify the insect by using teacher provided materials. They will then be given directions to aid them in writing a report on their pet. They will need to include the insect's kingdom, phylum, class, and order. In addition I would like them to include the insect's food source, life span, landscapes inhabited in, inherited traits, and any other interesting information that they find.


Grade 8: Knowledge and Skills
(11) Species Change through Generations

  1. identify that change in environment can affect survival of specres
  2. distinguish between inherited traits and other characteristics resulting from interactions with environment
(1) Field and Laboratory Investigations
  1. demonstrate safe practices during field and laboratory investigations
(2) Scientific Inquiry: Field and Laboratory
  1. collect data: observe and measure


  1. The student will be able to safely and effectively collect data from a field.
  2. The student will be able to observe and measure the collected data and process it into a Research report.


Journal Notebook
Container to be used for bug collection
Research materials
Sweep nets
Other collecting materials
Zip lock bags

Prior Knowledge:

Previous to this lesson, students have had other lessons pertaining to taxonomy. They also know the definition of an insect, their body parts, and know how to write a report. In addition to the above, the students know the differences between a habitat and an ecosystem. In one previous lesson, students have taken a field trip to the same park as in this lesson to map different habitats of insects. All of the above is essential for the students completion of this lesson.


I will walk into class wearing bug antennas. I will have prepared a short film clip on abnormally large insects from the National Geographic Film Series. While students are watching this film, I will be passing around some insects that have been preserved in solution for the students to observe. After the film is over I will begin to ask probing questions. For example, I would ask thern to be thinking of places where they might find insects while in the park. I might also tell them to keep their eyes open for some of the large creatures we viewed in the film.


Throughout this lesson there are numerous activities. The first will be the actual exploration and bug collection done in the local park. While at the park I will demonstrate the different methods of bug collection by using a sweep net and a beat net. I will encourage students to be creative and look in places where they might find the most interesting specimens of insects. Students will have approximately 40 minutes to do the exploration and collection. The students will be asked to take their bugs home and choose one that will become their pet for two weeks. They must come up with a container and food sources for their individual insect. They also are responsible for identifying their insect. They will be able to use teacher provided resources in order to do this.

During the next class period, I will inform them of the research report that iey will be completing during the next week. This report should be typed, double spaced, 3 pages minimum, and include the information such as the insect's taxonomy, food source, life span, and any other interesting information that the student wishes to include. After explanation of the report, students will have an opportunity to start researching their insect. The actual report will be tumed in one week from date of assignment. I will circulate throughout the classroom so that I may answer and ask questions. Students will be allowed to discuss amongst themselves but the writing will be individual. With the report students will also turn in a hand drawn picture of their insect with body parts labeled.


  1. Stay away from plants that may be poisonous
  2. Be careful around water
  3. Try to quickly trap insects- some sting or bite
  4. If any incident occurs, locate teacher immediately

Concept Discovery:

After students have had the opportunity to explore and inquire I want to gather them together and have a class discussion. While still outside I would ask questions like: Who found a butterfly? Where were the most bugs found? Why do you think they were located in that habitat? Which were the hardest to catch? Would bugs be more likely to be found under rocks or out in open areas? What do you think they eat? Why? Etc.. This question/answer session will be used to spark interest in the insect research that the class will be participating in throughout the report.

Going Further:

The extension of this activity will occur partly as student's care for and record observations of their pet insect. I will ask that they name and care for their insect on a daily basis. They will need to keep records for two weeks. I will also go further into landscapes, ecosystems, and habitats and how the environment depends on insects to function. This will carry on into the next lesson.


Students will share reports and their pet insects with other members of the class in small group settings. I will then have them return to their seats and will summarize the events of the past two days. I will then ask them questions that will test their knowledge of general insect information. For example: # of legs, habitat, and body segment names I will introduce the next lesson and allow them to proceed to their next class.


I will use a more standard type of scoring for this particular assignment. I will grade their reports on thought, creativity, quality of writing, amount of insect information, their drawtng of therr onsect, and their overall participation will also be weighed. The best papers will receive a grade between 90-100 all the way down to fair papers (60-70).


This lesson is not only a science lesson, but also encompasses numerous language skills. The research report will be graded on proper language usage, spelling, and sentence formation. I also could connect this lesson to social studies and discuss how different populations work together to make the whole landscape filnction. It would coordinate to how different human populations work together in our society.

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