I ask students to sit on the meeting place rug so that we can begin a new unit.
I have a collection of things sitting on the table next to me. They include:
a safari hat
a bug net
I ask students to turn to their shoulder partner and to have a short talk about what kind of scientist may use the types of things that they see on my table. I have students do this to begin the lesson because it gives them an opportunity to use their thinking skills to try and figure out what we may be talking about.
In my years of teaching, I've never had a student come up with the word "entomologist" on their own. However, since we have had prior discussions and lessons on the meaning of the suffix -ologist, they tend to get very creative and come up with some great ideas.
After students have had a chance to talk to their partner for a few minutes, I bring the class back together and I use my turn taking sticks to call on a few students to share their ideas. I write these on chart paper.
I had one student say that, "We will learn about how to catch bugs!" and another said, "Yeah! We could be bugologists on the playground!"
I say to students that, "We are going to practice being an Entomologist." I explain that an entomologist is a scientist that studies insects. I also say, "Sometimes, my kindergarten friends call insects "bugs", but we will learn that bugs and insects are not the same."
"Entomologists collect insects and observe and watch insects to learn more about them. So we are going to go out onto the playground and the field with nets and bug boxes and we are going to collect insects to observe and study."
In order for the students to have enough bug boxes, etc. I have collected them over the years. I also have glass baby food jars with holes poked in the lids in order for the insects to breathe. I prefer the plastic bug boxes because most of them have the magnifying glass on the top making it nice for the kids to see the insects closer up. These can be picked up in most big box stores or dollar stores during the spring and summer seasons.
I take the class out to the playground and have them sit in the sand near the field so that they can listen to instructions. I pull a wagon out with the nets and bug boxes.
I say to students, "I would like you to find a buddy that you can be an entomologist with. You will get to work together to collect insects in your bug boxes that we can take back to our classroom to study and watch. The wagon has plenty of boxes and a few nets that you can use to catch the insects. We do not want to catch bees or wasps, though, because we want to stay safe."
I send them off to find insects. This is typically a fun activity, although, there will always be a student or two that is terrified of insects. These students can just be observers or supervisors. It's best to give them some kind of job to keep them involved but you should never push them in to touching or catching something they fear.
It is also a good idea to set perimeters for students to stay in if your outdoor area is large. In my case, our playground and field are entirely fenced in so I am okay having them use the entire area.
I allow students quite a bit of time to collect insects. They enjoy this activity.
After giving the students sufficient time outdoors to collect their insect specimens, I collect the jars in the wagon and we head back into the classroom.
When we get back in, I ask the students to sit on the meeting place rug. While this happens, I then direct any adult helpers that may be in my room to start putting the jars out on the tables around the room.
With the students, I explain that we are going to do a gallery walk around the room and take a look and study each of the insects that were collected.
A gallery walk is where students roam around the room to look at projects, art, specimens, etc. Directions for this activity include that students must keep their hands behind their back and not touch anything. They can walk around to each jar or container and take a look. Only one student can be at a jar at one time. This keeps crowding down. It gives the students an opportunity to see more than just their own work or project.
I give students guidelines. Those include, not opening the jars, not shaking the jars, using our sense of sight to look closely at the insect, being respectful, and keeping our hands behind our back.
I say to students, "When I say go, I'd like you to get up and start moving around the room to look at all of the insects. Watch what they do, look at the parts of their bodies, look at their colors or markings."
While students are doing the gallery walk, I join in. It is a great example to students when you can join in the activity and do it along side of them. Students will follow your example.
When students are beginning to get restless, I will say, "Freeze."
Students have been taught that when I say this, they are to stop, look at me and listen.
I ask students to then go back to their own seats.
I hand out science journals. I ask students to open their journals to their next blank page and to draw a picture or two (or more if you choose) of an insect that they saw. I explain that scientists, more importantly, entomologists, draw pictures of insects that they see and they make sure that they draw them as they see them.