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Going Buggy at GBW

Spiders and crickets and ladybugs, oh my! Second-graders at Greenbriar West Elementary learned all about them recently during a nine-week science unit on insects and crickets.

Children had live crickets in their classrooms, creating and studying their habitat and learning what they need to survive. Students also kept cricket journals of their observations and did other activities.

In teacher Gayle Peterson's class, for example, children created 3D bugs and spiders on construction paper, wrote about things that bug them, read the book "Charlotte's Web," researched particular insects and made reports about them.

They also learned insects' body parts and drew crickets on the computer, using special drawing-software. Meanwhile, students in teacher Suzie Hosey's class did similar activities and, on Halloween, they all wore insect costumes to school.

Samples of "Things That Bug Us" written by Peterson's students included Vivian Le's comment, "It really bugs me when my dog barks because she barks so loud." Classmate Angie Vo wrote, "It really bugs me when my cousin Donny plans the boombox too loud because he sings bad and I can't sleep, even if I close the door."

According to Grant Jarrell, "It really bugs me when my dog eats my socks and my toys." Wrote Benjamin Kwak: "It really bugs me when my sister bosses me around while I'm reading because I am always at a good part."

Students also discussed what they learned. Iris Hyon, 7, learned that "crickets don't chirp with their mouths; they rub their wings together." Her favorite insect is the ladybug because "it eats aphids, and that's a good thing because aphids eat flowers." She also made a nifty ladybug out of Styrofoam and learned that all insects have six legs.

Tyler McLatchy, 8, discovered that insects have three body parts — the head, thorax and abdomen — and he researched the praying mantis. "They have legs that they catch stuff with, like bees," he explained. "And they're camouflaged in the leaves and sticks because some are brown and some are green." If he got the chance, said Tyler, he'd be a grasshopper: "I'd want to see what it's like jumping and stuff and what their houses are like."

Olivia Hinrichsen, 7, liked studying cricket habitats. "I thought it was cool that only male crickets chirp and that the girl crickets have an extra spike called an ovipositor that they put into the ground and lay their eggs with it," she said. "My favorite insect is the ladybug because they're really fun. It's cool that they can turn over and sense a bad-smelling liquid. That's how they protect themselves."

As for Sydney Strub, 7, she learned crickets need air, water and food to survive — but that, if they get too much water, they'll die. "My favorite insect is the dragonfly because I did my report about it and I like what it can do," she said. "It can fly really fast because it has four wings and it can scoop up other insects that are dead in the water and eat them."

In teacher Cathy Munsterman's class, student Amanda Mason, 7 1/2, found out that insects breathe out of spiracles — air holes in their abdomen. Crickets are her favorite insects "because they make a beautiful sound. And they like to eat almost anything, especially fish flakes." But if she could be any insect for a day, said Amanda, she'd be a butterfly "because I could fly in the sky."

Tyler Treakle, 8, was all abuzz about bees. "They carry pollen to different flowers to help them grow," he said. Tyler made a 3D bee out of paper and said bees are his favorites because "they're cool." But if he could be an insect, he'd choose to be a cricket, he said, because "they can hop really high."

Meanwhile, Brandon Vicinus, 8, learned that crickets can crawl and climb on trees. "Their ears are on their legs so they can hear what's on the ground if littler bugs are approaching and trying to attack them," he explained.

But his favorite insect is the tarantula "because they can make you die." That's why, said Brandon, he'd choose to be a tarantula for a day "so I could kill all the mosquitoes so they wouldn't bite me."

Miranda Hudson, 7 1/2, also learned that a cricket could jump from one side of the room to the other. "Their three simple eyes can see light and dark, and their two compound eyes — which are the big ones — can see an image coming toward them," she added.

However, her favorite insect is the butterfly because "I studied monarch butterflies, and they can fly for two hours." But if she got the chance to be a bug, said Miranda, it would be a cricket because "I'd be able to hop away from my enemies and, if I was a girl cricket, I could lay eggs and get a boyfriend."