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GBW Second-Graders Learn About Insects

When second-graders at Greenbriar West Elementary study insects, they do it wholeheartedly through art, science and writing.

They even had live crickets in their classrooms, and teachers Gayle Peterson, Cathy Munsterman, Suzie Hosey and Sara Schweigert guided them as they created habitats for the critters.

"THE STUDENTS worked in groups and talked about the four things crickets need to survive — air, water, food and a suitable place to live," said Peterson. "And we talk about the differences between wants and needs."

Students kept journals of their crickets' actions and learned about insects' body parts and life cycles. They also got cards containing cricket facts for their parents to answer true or false while looking at their children's journals. Said Peterson: "It's a good review tool for the students."

Her class used computers to draw crickets, students wrote about "Things That Bug Us" and they researched their favorite insects and created 3-D replicas. The class read "Charlotte's Web" together and made yarn spider webs on construction paper and placed 3-D paper spiders on top.

Right before Halloween, Hosey's and Schweigert's classes dressed up in insect costumes. Hosey's students also made cricket-shaped cookies with all the proper body parts. "And we played Jeopardy," said Hosey. "We divided into groups and asked questions about insects."

Peyton McClintock, 7, said the body parts are the head, thorax and abdomen, plus the antennae, legs and compound and simple eyes. And, he said, "Crickets have ears on their knees so, if something's stomping close to them, they'll hear it."

NICHOLAS MAROTTA, 7, learned that palpi help food enter an insect's mouth. "They're wormlike things outside the head," he explained. "My favorite insect is the praying mantis because it eats lots of bugs and its first pair of legs look cool."

Maddie Karwowski, 7, learned insects go from eggs to nymphs to adults. If she could, she said, "I'd be a ladybug because they're red and I like red." Christine Nguyen, 7, learned crickets use their wings to chirp, not fly. "The males chirp to the females [to attract them]," she said. "I'd be a butterfly because they have lots of colors and can fly."

At 7 1/2, Kylie McLatchy would be a butterfly for the same reasons. She fed her classroom crickets "stuff like Cheerios, fish food and Frosted Flakes." Butterflies, ladybugs and crickets are all tops with Mariana Atrash, 7. "Butterflies look beautiful and spread their wings out," she said. "Ladybugs have different colors, like green and yellow, and female crickets have an ovipositor to lay their eggs."

Cicadas are No. 1 with Rachel Palmer, 7 1/2, "because they looked cool when they were growing. And I like ants because I learned a lot of facts about them." As for Joshua Lee, 7, he'd be a praying mantis, if possible, "'cause I like it when they camouflage themselves and eat other insects."

GRAHAM MATULIS, 8, is a walking-stick fan because "it really is interesting how it can stay really still and look like a stick." If he could, he said, "I would be a praying mantis because usually he's the top of the insect food chain."

However, Jennifer Su, 7, would be a ladybug "because it's kind of lucky and I have one that's yellow and has two dots on it. And I like that they can change from yellow to red." Swaraj Dhumne, 6, is a praying-mantis fan "because it can eat other insects — bees, ants and ladybugs. I learned that insects have six legs and three main body parts."

Jake Kolodny, 7, also likes the praying mantis because "it can kill wasps and bees. It uses a sac to keep its eggs warm and, when the eggs turn into nymphs, they come out of the sac and cling to each other to get down to the ground."

Ayeshah Bashir, 7, especially liked making a 3-D replica of a ladybug and learned that they live in tropical regions. As for Isra Baba, 7, her favorite insect is the caterpillar "because it moves around and curls up. And I like the color green that ladybugs are." But if possible, she said, "I would be a cricket because it has body parts like people."