Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Pillbug/Roly-Poly Craft

Before we got into learning about actual insects, we spent a few days talking about things that seem like insects. Things like spiders, pillbugs, worms, millipedes, etc. I had had the "spiders aren't insects" fact drilled into me sufficiently, but I never knew that pillbugs are crustaceans (like crabs!), and it was good to review just how else these "bug-like" creatures are alike and different from each other.

For one activitiy, we made these cute little pillbugs that roll up into balls. The instructions are here, and it's fairly simple: cut seven triangles of equal size and join them with a paper fastener so the segments can slide under each other. Cute.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Insect Unit Schedule and Lesson Plan

Ever since we started homeschooling, I have had this vague idea that no one ought to leave school without having made an insect collection! I'm not sure why. It just seems like one of those things…one must do! So, now we have finally gotten around to it and we can just close up shop and call it good, I guess! :)

My little Juniper just started kindergarten "officially" this year (she's been hanging around while the other kids have school for a long time, of course) and this seemed like a fun unit for her to start with. There are loooooots of ideas online for "bug activities" and crafts, but most of them are geared for quite a young audience! And since we tend to do a lot of stuff directed to the older kids, it was nice to find some cute little kindergarten-style crafts for Junie's sake. Although…honestly…the older kids really seemed to enjoy the simple little crafts too. I think it's relaxing for them to just sit and make collages, or play with pipe cleaners, sometimes. I sometimes join them myself!

Fall was a great time to study insects. The weather is so lovely and mild that it's a pleasure to be outside, and the insects haven't flown away or gone into dormancy or whatever yet. And I must say our insect collection turned out way better than I anticipated. I pictured a few sad-looking bugs in a box, like I had when I was in school (although I was very proud of mine…thus my feeling that it was a "must-do," probably)—but we ordered some great supplies and got a beautiful-looking display box, and it made all the difference! Sebastian has probably been the most enthusiastic worker on the collection, and he has arranged it and made it really beautiful! So it has been fun.

We really enjoyed a series of short animated videos from a show called "Minuscule," which I think is/was a French animated show? You can find lots of them on YouTube. In fact, I tried to buy a DVD of some collected shows, but it is only made for the other kind of DVD player (Region 4 or 2 or whatever it is). But if you search for "Minuscule" on YouTube you'll find a bunch. 

Here is an example of one of our favorites, about bees, called "Le Convoi." Many, many of the others were very fun as well.

There is also a movie made by the same creators (and featuring many of the same insect characters) called "Valley of the Lost Ants." This one WILL work on U.S. DVD players and we quite liked it. There are almost no words, just lovely animation. It reminds me in tone of the documentary Microcosmos, which I saw for the first time at BYU (International Cinema!) and loved. (I think I read somewhere that the Minuscule people were inspired by Microcosmos, so that makes sense.) We watched "Valley of the Lost Ants" for our Insect Celebration at the end of the unit.
Goldie drew this darling picture of some insects :)
This chart helped us keep it all straight...
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