A bee expert was contacted from the United States Geological Survey, at the Patuxent Wildlife Center in Beltsville Maryland . He agreed to come and talk with the class. He was told about the children's short attention span and also to bring visuals. To prepare for the visit, the Red Room revisited some of their original bee related questions and came up with additional ones. The bee expert was able to answer all ot the children's questions and he offered some new ways to further investigate bees.After the expert left, some children helped fill in the answers to their questions on chart paper.
The expert left collecting cups and instructions on how to catch our own bees. Soapy water was put in the colorful cups. The bees were attracted to the color and would drown in the soapy water. The cups were carefully lined up along a fence in the playground. Children decided to rope the traps off and write signs to inform the other classes so they would not disturb the traps. After a day the children strained the water in the cups and collected the bees in a plastic bag. The children immediately noticed that they had caught more flies than bees.
After the initial bee trap, the children searched through several books to find other ways of attracting insects to investigate. Some children invented their own bug traps and put them in their garden; checking them each day for results.Other traps were carefully constructed using directions from library books.
Another investigation took place when the children noticed that some people did not like bugs. A survey was taken to see which children within the class liked bugs. After this was established the children went to the other classrooms to find out who else liked bugs. A large chart was made to compile the data. The final chart was presented at a meeting and discussed to see what could be learned from the survey. The Red Room children were able to decipher from the graph that the majority of children from each classroom did like bugs.
When the assorted bug traps had been set up for a week or two, the class discussed how each trap did.
A chart was made depicting the many different bug traps the children had made. First the children named each trap and then the results were recorded on a large piece of chart paper. One boy's trap made of a box with sticky glue, did not attract any bugs. To depict this on the chart, he drew a circle with a bug in it and a slash through it. There was much pondering as to how they could make the trap more successful. Another trap called the "Butterfly Bar" attracted only wasps. Some traps filled with water when it rained and had to be emptied. The trap to the right was more of an experiment. Leaf litter was put into a makeshift funnel and a bright light was placed above the litter. The theory was that the litter loving insects would prefer the dark and dig down only to fall into the jar below. The children observed several insects using this method.
In addition to searching for and discovering bugs on the CYC playground, the camp took a field trip to a local wooded area with a stream nearby. The children gasped with delight as they observed butterflies, dragonflies, and numerous other bugs. At one spot on the path children discovered a plethora of pill bugs. Each child was able to collect many of these small creatures in their bug catchers. The trip took them along the edge of a stream where the children searched for bug that liked water. One parent was a biologist and brought along a special net that the children helped throw it out into deeper water. This way they were able to collect additional species. Later a book was put together using photographs from the field trip and the children's words. The children enjoyed reading this during free time.
Just like the children had seen the expert do, they pinned dead insects to a piece of recycled Styrofoam for a better look. When the pinned display was first started, one boy told the class about its fragility. After that, each child took care when examining the brittle insects.
Another display was created from observational drawing the children did of bugs they had found throughout the summer. A template was made for the children to fill in. A bulletin board was set up outside of the classroom door using these pages to show the school some of the many bugs that had been found
The Public library was over flowing with books about insects and bugs, fiction and non-fiction. Our main resource for identifying bugs was The Audubon Society Field-Guide to North American Insects and Spiders by Milne. This book proved to be an invaluable resource because it contained photographs in the front half of the book and the detailed hard-to-read print in the back. Children could thumb through the photographs easily and the adults could turn to the back to read the information such as what they eat and the type of habitat they prefer.Some bugs were looked up on the Internet to find their true names, habitats, and other interesting information.
For story time some collections of non-fiction books were read. The first week some of Eric Carle's well loved books were featured, The Hungry Hungry Caterpillar, The Clumsy Click Beetle, etc. Another week, Anansi stories were read,including, Anansi and the Moss Covered Rock, Anansi and the Talking Melon, etc. The Pill Bug book was read when introducing an experiment with pill bugs. Two non-fiction big books on butterflies were read before the trip to the Butterfly Garden to prepare the children for what they might see.