To determine what the children already know, they were asked to dictate a bug story and illustrate it with the materials in the classroom. One child thought of bugs as something to step on another child already explored pill bugs on his own. A girl incorporated other animals in a whimsical happy tale. The teachers used some of this information to guide the study. For the children that did not like bugs, teachers hoped attitudes would change. Writing children's words down for them not only respects their ideas but also indicates that words and print have meaning.
Children were asked what they already knew about bugs. Most of the information the children knew was basic and accurate. From this information the teachers could help plan the project. For instance some children seemed preoccupied with the fact that bugs bite. With this information the teachers were able to help guide respect for bugs ability to bite without instilling an irrational fear of them.
After exploring what they already knew or thought about bugs, the children were asked what they wanted to know. From this a list of questions was generated. Many of the questions (those on the photo to the left with red spots) were related to bees and wasps. Using these questions as a guide the teachers initiated the next phase of the bug project (see Phase II).
Parents were encouraged to participate verbally and in e-mails attached to lesson plans. All field trips required parent volunteers for driving and chaperoning. Many families shared books, games and found insects from their home. When children brought these things in, they were given a special time to share with the group. One girl with a biologist father, brought in some cave crickets from her basement. Another family shared a game called "Bug Bingo". One boy brought in a Monarch caterpillar from his garden at home. The Bug Project very much became a family study as well as a classroom study.