Insect Song

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.

What’s in a pitfall?

Yesterday, we explained arthropods to supplement the Focus on Insects section in My Green Community. Today: pitfalls. A pitfall is exactly what it sounds like, a pit that will trap small creatures (insect sized) who fall in. Of course, not everything trapped in a pitfall is going to be an insect…

To make a pitfall, you can use the illustration on the left. Full instructions with a materials list can be found inside our educator’s guide.

Things you might find include worms and arthropods, including insects. Worms, of course, are not arthropods – a worm lacks an exoskeleton. Catching a worm in your pitfall will be a great point of comparison for students, because they can feel the difference between the two. (Many young children will have trouble feeling an exoskeleton on an insect, because it is still much less hard than a rock, say. They can usually, however, feel that a worm is squishy-er than a beetle.)

How are you going to identify the other creatures that end up in your pitfall? Try a website like http://insectidentification.org/, which also covers spiders (spiders, remember, are not insects). Here you can browse by category or enter characteristics of the small creature into a drop down menu to identify what it is.

Or, use a field guide. National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Insects and Spiders & Related Species of North America by Arthur Evans is a kid-friendly, well illustrated guide that should help you identify most, if not all, of what you find. Check out a copy from your local library and your class can identify exactly what you find in your pitfall.

Check back next week for a simple song to help your students remember the characteristics of an insect.

Amazing Arthropods

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…

School Programs at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum

It’s almost the end of September and you’ve got your rules and routines in place in your classroom. What’s next? Planning a great field trip to get kids engaged in learning at a local park, zoo, or museum, for a different experience than the one they get in class!

Starting a school program in World Brooklyn

To help you plan, we would like to announce the 2011-2012 schedule of school programs at Brooklyn Children’s Museum. Programs are available for grades PK-8, focusing on either science or culture. The full list is available on our website, including instructions on how to register and cost.

Here are some highlighted programs for environmental and sustainable education:

  • Habitat Brooklyn: Amazing Arthropods (grades PK-1) — explore the amazing body structure of joint-legged creatures known as arthropods. Students conduct hands-on investigations of objects from the Museum’s collection and live specimens such as crabs, Madagascan Hissing Cockroaches, crickets, and more in the Neighborhood Nature exhibit.
  • Habitat Brooklyn: Urban Botanist (grades 2-4) — Leaves that ooze sticky glue, leaves that prick, leaves that snap shut or shy away from your touch — visit the museum greenhouse to learn about weird and wonderful ways plants have adapted to their environments. Learn what plants and animals need to grow and thrive, and build a snail habitat in the museum garden.
  • Habitat Brooklyn: Critter Comebacks (grades 5-6) — Wildlife is forced out of cities all the time, but with careful intervention, some species are starting to stage stunning comebacks in New York City.  Flex your advocacy and citizenship skills as you learn to protect salt marsh ecosystems, peregrine falcons, or horseshoe crabs.
  • Forces in Action: It’s Easy Being Green (grades 5+) — Get the inside scoop on how the first LEED-certified museum in NYC helps save energy and water. Students will enjoy an interactive scavenger hunt and activities where they learn that little steps can lead to a big difference for our environment. This program can easily be done with older students; we have had multiple high school groups come to learn about the Museum’s sustainable building.

Check out the full list of programs. We hope to see you this year at Brooklyn Children’s Museum!

Come and check out the museum! You can find us at the corner of St. Marks Ave and Brooklyn Ave in Crown Heights, Brooklyn