* I recommend at least two extra adults in the classroom for this activity. If you are unable to have extra adults on hand, you can ask for parent volunteers or older students.
If you are unable to teach this lesson in this manner, you could set up centers with activities to work on while you teach each group the small group lessons.
I ask students to sit at the meeting place rug to begin a lesson on three different insects: the ladybug, dragonfly and bee.
I explain to students that often times people learn best when they have to teach something to someone else. So, we are going to get in to three groups of peers and learn about the life cycle of an insect. Then, the group will be responsible for teaching the other two groups about that insect.
I break students up into equal groups. This is done ahead of time and done strategically so that each group has equal ability levels and students that are able to work well with each other.
I explain that the group will go to an assigned adult in the classroom and will be taught the life cycle and some interesting facts about a particular insect. "It is very important for you to be a great listener and learner during that time so that you will be able to teach another friend. Remember, if there is something that you don't understand or something that is confusing, you should ask questions to make it more clear."
You may need to take some time before this lesson to work with the other adults in order to have clear expectations of what they will be doing with the group of students they will work with.
I ask students to stand up and I assign them to a center with another adult that will be teaching the group about the insect life cycle that I have assigned to them. With a class of 24 students, I break them into groups of 8 each.
The adult at the center is responsible for reading a non fiction text about the insect focusing on the pages that talk about the life cycle. When the read aloud is finished, the adult will lead the group in a retell of the life cycle using a felt board and felt board pieces that I created using felt from a dollar store and laminated pictures. You can make small individual size felt boards with cardboard and felt.
Here is an instruction video on how to make a simple felt board:
The way I make my felt board stories is by drawing the pictures by hand, coloring them, cutting them out and laminating them. Then, I attach the felt to the back of my drawings. If you are not good at drawing yourself, you could always find printable pictures online or from various teacher resources.
As the adults finish, they can have the students all participate and tell the life cycle focusing on using the proper vocabulary for each of the insects.
I gave each adult at the centers an index card that includes the vocabulary that I want them to focus on.
Ladybug vocabulary: eggs, larva, pupa, adult Text: Lady Bug (Life Cylcles)
Dragonfly vocabulary: eggs, larva, adult Text: Dragonflies
Bee vocabulary: eggs, larva, pupa, adult Text: A Bee's Life
As the groups finish in their centers and feel confident in being able to teach others about the insect that they learned, I bring the group back together at the meeting place rug.
At the front of the room, I have placed a large felt board. You can use a purchased board or make your own.
Each group will have a turn to come to the front and to teach the rest of the class what they have learned about their insect and to show us the life cycle of the insect. I'm looking for participation from each member as well as the use of the vocabulary and naming the parts appropriately. You may find that some members of each group will be stronger in presenting than others. If I see that one student is doing most of the talking, I will ask specific students questions like, "Elizabeth, can you tell us something that you learned about the ladybug?" or "Connor, can you show the class the life cycle and name the parts?".
This is will continue for all three groups. At the end of each presentation, the rest of the class will have the opportunity to ask the presenters any questions if needed.
After all three presentations, I ask students to get up and go back to their seats.
In the science journals, I lead the class in a writing the life cycles down using the vocabulary words that were learned.
Doing this shows the students that even though these three insects are all very different in their adult stages, they go through very similar cycles.
I model for them using the document camera.
Life cycles run throughout science standards in several grade levels. In kindergarten, it is the basic understanding that insects change and evolve into something different over time.