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Insects and Inquiry

June 7, 2023 | Kristen Jordan

For several weeks now in the Trees Class, children have had the exciting experience of observing and learning about insects much like scientists.  They have been acquiring knowledge through this process as we read, observe, ask questions and discuss.

Part of learning is gaining new information. Children have learned facts about insects: They have 3 body parts (head, thorax and abdomen), 6 legs, 2 antennae, an exoskeleton, and more.  But another big part of learning is the process of pondering ideas, making guesses and exploring.  A big part of the work children have been doing  is observing and developing hypotheses based on their growing knowledge.

Children have learned about how insects grow and change, and even learned the big word for it: METAMORPHOSIS. We have had some mysterious creatures and objects in the classroom for a few weeks and children used their keen powers of observation and thought that maybe we had ladybug larva, or some wondered if they were caterpillars, or firefly larva.

At last, the larva in our classroom changed to pupa and finally to adult ladybugs.  It was very exciting! Some of the predictions were right! 

Another mystery was finally solved on Tuesday of this week as praying mantis nymphs emerged from the egg sac that has been here for weeks!  The children have noticed how quickly the nymphs are already growing and changing!  Wow! 

Children have also done observational drawings of insects, created clay insects, and made stick insects out of sticks.   In creating, they must look carefully and think about the body parts and details.  

Children also constructed a bee hive in drama and behaved like bees after learning from an expert bee keeper.   Learning is solidified as children create art and play.

We have been discussing and researching which kinds of insects are helpful and which may do harm.  

As we learn more, sometimes we discover things we don’t know and want to know more about. Part of the learning process is also developing questions and knowing how to find the answers

Children have come up with many things they are wondering about insects.  In their questions, you can see that they have learned so much information and the questions are building on that learning: 

How long do insects live? 

Which insects help plants? Which hurt?

Why are they called insects?

Why do spiders eat ladybugs?

How many wings do insects have? 

Why are damselfly wings so long? 

Why are wings delicate?

How many kinds of bees are there? Why do bees have 5 eyes?  How many eyes do they have? Why can they see the color red? 

Why do praying mantids eat ladybugs? 

How come ladybugs (and other insects) are good climbers?

Why do some insects fight? 

Why do some insects jump?

We are engaged in the joy of an inquiry process: Observing, thinking, developing hypotheses, asking questions, and researching to find answers.  There are many ways to do research-through books, the computer, and also talking to experts.  

On Friday of this week, children will have a chance to get their questions answered directly during a video call with an insect scientist, an entomologist!  We very much look forward to connecting with her to continue learning! 

Kristen Jordan

Teacher, Rivers Class

Kristen Jordan began helping at Mustard Seed School in 2006, after her daughter had been a student in the preschool. She substituted for many years in all grades; in 2011, she returned to the classroom and has been a teacher in The Nest ever since.

Prior to the birth of her daughter Clara, in 2002, Ms. Jordan worked in Brooklyn as a first grade teacher with the New York City Public Schools. During this time, her school collaborated with the Brooklyn Museum, and this work helped Ms. Jordan develop a real interest in the parallels between the process of making art and the process of writing in the classroom. She thoroughly enjoys teaching both art and literacy to preschoolers.

Ms Jordan’s background includes work with the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. While at Teachers College, she trained with esteemed educator and author Lucy Calkins. Early in her teaching career, Ms. Jordan did not think that she wanted to teach very young children but her view has changed! She now really enjoys and takes great interest in young children and their development.

Ms. Jordan enjoys reading, working out, hiking, cooking, and spending time with her daughter and family. Although she has lived on the East Coast for a very long time, as a native of Oregon, she really loves the mountains!

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