Like many home educators we often take a unit study approach to education, and since we have been collecting the new CODE books we have tied many unit studies into the topics covered by these books. The first cluster in CODE is Bugtastic - which makes this a great time to collect bug books - some of our favourites are:
CODE books 1 -4 Bugtastic
The Very Hungry Caterpillar - True this is at at even younger reading age, but it's a good confidence booster and lots of fun. You can also make lovely caterpillar print paintings by dipping a half of a potato in different coloured paints to make the body, drawing on some legs and adding some google eyes. You can also make a butterfly by folding an A4 paper in half, painting half the picture and then folding it over. If you want really fancy butterflies - cut out a butterfly shape from card. cut large sections out of the wings and paste coloured tissue paper over these for a stained glass effect.
Life Cycle of an Ant
The book begins by explaining exactly what an ant is. It explains that ants are invertebrates, insects and Hymenoptera ( a group of flying insects that includes ants, wasps and bees. I quite like this because it encourages children to start thinking about the scientific classification of organisms. It also teaches children the different castes of ants, their body parts and what the function of each part is. After this is a short section on colonies and nests, including a very interesting but brief paragraph on army ants making a living tent by linking bodies together to protect the queen and eggs when they rest during the day.
Only after learning the very basic facts about ants does the child move on to the main section, the life cycle. This explains the difference between life cycle and life span, has an illustration showing the process starting with an egg, which hatches into a larva, then a pupa and finally and adult. There are some excellent high magnification photos, as well as more detail information on each stage of the life cycle. You can actually see the eyes of a larva ready to hatch within the clear egg, and view worker ants bundling several eggs together to move them. There are several photos of larva and pupa as well including one very high magnification of a pure white pupa folded up in a cocoon which looks very much like something from a sci-fi flick.
Next we learn about the mating behaviour of ants, but there is nothing too graphic here. A queen ant only mates once. She will remain fertile for life. After mating a new colony is formed. Finally, the book winds up with some details on the social lives of ants, diet and feeding and ants in danger or under threat. The final page is short section on making an ant farm and keeping ants.
We all really enjoyed this book. The boys loved the photographs which are of an exceptionally high quality show all sorts of tiny details. the magnification shows even tiny hairs on some of the ants, and all the photos are sharp and clear. They especially loved the pictures of the eggs, larvae and pupae. they also enjoyed seeing the different castes of ant : worker, soldier, queen and drones. There is one photo under feeding where one regurgitates into another's mouth which had the perfect level of gross for young boys.
I loved this book because, although written at a fairly easy reading level - I think most children could read this easily by age 7 - this does present a fair amount of scientific detail. It encourages children to think in terms of classification of species as well as to understand how the ants life cycle works, how creatures change as they grow, and of course something of the way these insects live in a huge group, each member with it's part to play.
Full review @dooyoo:
Watch Me Grow: Butterfly: A very simple easy to read book, but lovely photos illustrating each step of the change.
Honey Bee's Hive - Mini Beasts
Army Ants - Mini Beasts
DK Eyewonder: Bugs
A Ladybug Larva Grows Up - Scholastic News Nonfiction Readers: Life Cycles
What is Pollination? Big Science Ideas: An excellent resource showing how insects pollinate plants.
Uncover a Tarantula: Take a Three-Dimensional Look Inside a
Tarantula!: A really fun book with a 3d model showing the insides of a tarantula as well as plenty of information about these creatures.
Ant's Bug Adventure - Bookband Blue level 4
Ants at Home - Project X - Bookband Lime level 11
Ant Meets the Queen - Project X Bookband Lime level 11
Ant Attack - Project X - Bookband Brown level 12
Ant Storm Project X - Bookband Brown level 12
The Swarm - Project X- Bookband Y5 Blue level 14
Wow Explained - Project X - Bookband Y5 Blue level 14
The project X books above include several reading levels.Ants at home is non fiction, and WOW explained is a unique cross between fiction and non fiction. The rest are part of a wonderful serial adventure involving children with special watches that allow them to shrink to microsized and explore the world on a whole new level. Ant's Bug adventure features and angry stag beetle, the next 4 titles are about ants and the final 2 feature bees.
Insect Lore Butterfly Garden: This is really just a simple net structure with a coupon to order live caterpillars - which will cost an extra £5, but it does look fun and it allows children to witness metamorphosis first hand.
Interplay Wild Science Antosphere : We haven't had the chance to add ants to this yet, as the weather is still too cold. It was great fun building though , and we have ordered two more sets so my son can create a complete habitat. It is easy to build and has four pods and tunnels per set. We are planning to grow cress in a couple of pods add water to one etc... The only real drawback to this that it is going to be a nightmare to clean.
Unit study ideas:
I would also suggest outdoor activities in the springtime - go on a bug safari - record and graph the number of each type of insect found.
For a maths exercise one might look up measurements of many different specials and compare sizes.
Draw out food chains showing how many animals depend on insects.