Context for this Lesson
Topic: Considering the appearance and experience of bugs. To relate to observations of the natural world, in conjunction with nature journals.
Focus Question: How are bugs similar and different from each other? What are individual artistic interpretations of bugs and their habitats?
When students enter the room there are three questions are written on the board:
- What adjectives describe them?
- What do they look like?
- Where do they live?
Once the students are seated say, “I bet you’re wondering what these questions refer to.” And write “BUGS” on the board above the questions. Ask the students to brainstorm some answers and write them on the board.
Side-coaching questions include:
- How many legs do bugs have?
- What colors are they?
- What do they feel like?
- How do you feel when you see one?
- What are some indoor and outdoor places you might find them?
Observations and Frozen Images
Keeping these questions in mind we’re going to look at some pictures of bugs. Pass out pictures of bugs to each table- appoint a scribe and an announcer at each table. In their groups the students will look at the pictures and then write down all of their observations. After 4 minutes, the announcers share 3 things from each group that was not on the board. These are added to the board lists. After all groups have shared, all of the students stand up at their tables and "try-on" various bug parts. What would it look like if you use your body to make a bug head? Leg? Body? Spotlight some students’ choices. Then, each group picks one bug from their pictures and builds it with their bodies. As they’re building the frozen images remind the students to take care of each other by asking such questions as “Can I touch you?” “Are you comfortable like that?” etc. There will be a gallery of bugs and after 4 minutes spotlight each group for the others to observe and guess their bug.
Guided Imagery or Narrative Pantomime (depending on age and focus of students)
Sitting in your own space close your eyes. This is a silent activity, so without speaking, just relax and sit comfortably.
Imagine that you have just gone to bed. All night you’ve had dreams of the bugs we just looked at, of the bugs you became with your bodies. Then you hear your alarm go off *beep *beep *beep. Wishing you had just a few more minutes to sleep, you yawn and make yourself get up. You reach your arms up to stretch and you notice something’s different. Your arms feel different than they usually do. They’re much longer. Then you realize you don’t have fingers but your arms just end with little suction cups. You open your eyes wider and realize you have more than two arms and two legs. In fact, you notice many things have changed overnight. You look down and see….you’ve turned into…a bug! You inspect your new legs. You think about how many legs you now have – is it 6, 8, 12, 100? What do your legs feel like? What do your legs look like up close [use adjectives from the board]? Do you have wings? If so, what do they look like? You use your new arms to touch your body. How does it feel? Is it slimy, hard, spiky? [Insert adjectives recorded on the board from the first activity.] This is weird, you think to yourself, but also exciting. You’ve always wondered what it would be like to be a bug. Not knowing how long you’ll stay this way, and not wanting to waste any time, you begin to explore your surroundings. But you aren’t in your room, you’re in a bug habitat. Are you in the grass, in the forest, [add more details from their brainstorming on the board]? You begin to move around the unfamiliar space, touching everything around you. How does the grass or floor feel different now that you’re a bug? Everything is so much bigger than you ever anticipated! You’re tiny! As you continue exploring, minding your own business, you hear a sound behind you. The ground shakes. You slowly turn and see a giant walking toward you. A giant who towers over you and makes an earthquake with every step. But as you take a closer look, you realize, that’s not a giant, that’s your friend, looking for you. You think about how excited you are to tell your friend what happened to you and what it felt and looked like being a bug. So you find your way back to your bug bed, close your eyes, and go to sleep. In your dreams, you recall all the adventures from the day. You think about what it looked and felt like to be a bug. You dream of your new body and home. When morning comes and you wake up again you slowly open your eyes and hesitantly look down at your body. Phew! You are relieved to see that you are human again. It was fun to be a bug but now that you’re human, you can tell everyone about your adventure as a bug.
Without talking the students return to their seats where their nature journals and pencils have been pre-set. Students are given instructions to draw a picture about their lives as a bug. Using the pictures at your table as a guide draw yourself as you imagined making sure to base all the parts of your body off of real bugs! Remember to include details about what your body looked like and what your habitat looked like.
Imagine if you were a scientist or an explorer and you discovered a new creature, you would call it something that described what it looked like so people could remember it. Come up with such a name, and write it on the picture.
- What did you observe when we used our bodies to create bugs?
- What did you observe as you looked at the world through a bug’s eyes?
- How did it feel to be a bug? Has anyone ever wondered what it would be like to be a bug before?
- Was it sometimes hard to think about yourself as a bug?
- Why do you think this was so?
- How did you think differently as a bug, than when looking at bugs?
- What surprised you about thinking as a bug?
- What questions do you have about a bug’s experience and physical appearance?
- When you’re working on your nature journal, what new details might you think about including?
- When comparing and contrasting two animals, what types of similarities and differences might you now look for?