Counting Bugs

9 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT use math tools and drawings to count bugs in their natural environment and then represent the findings to share with others.

Big Idea

Students need to experience real life math situations. They also need to become comfortable sharing their understandings with others.

Explaining the Process

30 minutes

I begin the lesson by reminding students that many people use math each day. They will be using math as a scientist would today as they go outside to study the bugs present in a nature area. This will take measurement, counting, tallying, observing and then, when we come back inside, sharing what we have found.

I hold up a yardstick and ask what it is. I ask if anyone knows how big it is? We discuss how it is marked in inches, which is the same many feet? I have a student come and use a ruler to measure the yardstick. I tell students that we will be looking for bugs in a small area that will be 2 yardsticks (how many feet?) long and 2 yardsticks wide. I demonstrate on the floor the other 2 imaginary sides and ask students what shape I have made. 

I tell students that they will lay out their 2 yardstick square and then within that they can sit, look under things, look up, etc. and count all the bugs they can find during a 10 minute bug hunt. 

We review what that might look like.

Next I share the collection chart with them. I tell them it is a form (for them another form) of a science notebook. 

I ask for someone to repeat what we will be doing outside. I place students with partners (to avoid anyone being left out), and then hand each group their tools (a clipboard, collecting form and a yardstick).

We head outside for our observation and walk (allow about 20 minutes). Once outside I again demonstrate how we find our area, then I let each group mark their space and begin observing. I circulate among the groups checking on how they are doing, and moving any groups that are not finding any bugs.

At the end of 20 minutes we head back inside with our tools.

Sharing Our Findings.

30 minutes

The ultimate goal of collecting is to give students real data to work with in creating math word problems. Today the goal is for each group to create a graphic display of their findings. These displays can then be used in future lessons to create addition and subtraction problems.

I ask students to sit with their partners. I tell them that today they need to make a display that shows what they found. They may wish to draw pictures, make a graph, make a table, etc. but that their display should show how many of each type of bug they found. Their display should also be large enough for others to see from the other end of the room.

I provide large paper, markers, colored paper, crayons, glue, tape, etc. We discuss how someone looking at the poster should be able to figure out what it is about because of the pictures and labels. I remind them that they will need to count their tally marks and record it on their record sheet before beginning the task.

We review partner rules: listen to my partner, accept their ideas, agree what to do before beginning, both people help with the work, respect one another's ideas, do our best work

Students work in their partner groups. I circulate around the room asking clarifying questions and listening to explanations of work

Because this has been a long lesson, I do not do a separate closing activity today. I ask students to stop, look and listen. I explain that we will use these projects next time to create our own problems and thoughts about bugs in our area in fall. I ask if anyone has something that they need to tell the group about their findings before we stop. 

Finishing Up

5 minutes

There is not time today to use the data for adding and subtracting problems. This will be done in the next lesson. Today students had to add the number of tally marks, but really using the data will come next. Closing today was a quick share out from each group about what they have done so far.