Students estimate how many examples of living things could be found around the school. Use a class set of magnifying glasses and go for a walk around the school and playground to find examples of living things. Collate the class findings and sort these into categories.
Students work in small groups to sort pictures of animals. Students explain to the class the criteria they used for sorting. Using the pictures available discuss the concept of ‘minibeast’ and encourage students to articulate a shared definition of a ‘minibeast’. Display the definition in the classroom.
Once a definition of minibeasts has been decided upon, develop subcategories for sorting – insects, arachnids, molluscs, annelids, myriapods etc.
If possible visit the Museum of Victoria, to see the
Bugs Alive exhibition, the
Royal Melbourne Zoo, to see the butterfly enclosure, or the
Insectarium Victoria. Alternatively, investigate the ethical considerations of setting up a bug enclosure in the classroom, and explore how this may be achieved.
Getting to know a minibeast - Divide students into groups to explore a subcategory of minibeasts. Students use non-fiction books, internet images and websites written for young students, such as
National Geographic for kids. Students record the common name of the minibeast, the features of the minibeast and interesting facts about the minibeast. Students share the information collected in their group with other students, who listen to the speaker and take notes.
Complete an author study on Eric Carle, with a focus on the art work he used for books about minibeasts. (see The Bad-tempered Ladybird, The Honeybee and the Robber, The Very Busy Spider, The Lamb and the Butterfly, The Very Quiet Cricket, The Very Lonely Firefly and The Very Clumsy Click Beetle). Explore the common themes in these books.
Choose two Eric Carle books and make comparisons between these, in terms of characters, plot, setting, artwork. Make inferences about Eric Carle’s attitude to minibeasts.
The minuscules are short animated films about different minibeasts. Each episode is a short narrative, which students can recount. Watch an episode and explore the way the creators of the film have captured the characteristics of the highlighted minibeast. Use an online app, such as Toontastic to innovate on a recount of one of the animated films.
Explore pictures of cyclical events. For example - sleep patterns, day and night, days of the week, months of the year, seasons. Talk about sequence and order. Reinforce concepts such as before and after (see also
Victorian Curriculum Mathematics, Year 1).
Explore language needed to talk about cycles to connect ideas in sentences:
- Use temporal conjunctions or connectives and phrases, written on large cards, to describe and explain what happens during some of these cycles.
- Examples of temporal conjunctions include: after, when, while, as.
- Examples of temporal connectives and phrases include: next, then, following that, after, once, leading to, as soon as, during, next, throughout, from this point.
- Where appropriate, use conjunctions or connectives and phrases which denote cause and effect, for example, – because, so, leading to, resulting in.
What am I?
Once students have developed some content knowledge about minibeasts, create a What am I? quiz for their peers. What am I? quizzes are made up of three or more clues, expressed as statements. Each clue contains at least one relating verb. Explicitly teach the relating verbs expressed in the present tense, that are needed to construct the statements for the quiz - am, is, can be, have. For example:
- I am an arachnid, but not a spider.
- I have six to twelve eyes.
- I have a tail, that can curl.
- My sting is poisonous.
Provide students with a list of conjunctions to extend their sentences with an additional clause. Model examples for the students.
Example of linking words (conjunctions):
- Before, after, during, while, as soon as, when, so that, because, even though.
- I am coloured light brown so that I can camouflage in the fallen leaves.
- I trap my prey in my long legs before biting it.
A relative pronoun can also be used to expand the noun group (post-modifier or qualifier):
- I have a large body which I use to carry my egg sack.
Entomologist fact file
Students work with a partner to make a fact file sheet about a minibeast.
Discuss the purpose of this specific type of information text and how a reader reading a fact file obtains the information quickly.
Explore the text features that allow the quick access to facts.
Mentor texts such as
Steve Parish kids books are useful to highlight text layout, the use of headings, diagrams, and visuals.
Use mentor texts in shared reading sessions to highlight sentence beginnings common to report and explanation texts, where the subject is placed in theme position (at the beginning of the sentence). For example:
- Insects are found in every environment on earth, from the desert to the rainforest.
- They have lived on the earth for millions of years.
- Some insects, such as the Antarctic midge, live in the Antarctica.
Plan a minibeast exhibition
Students make a minibeast model out of modelling clay and use a cardboard box to make a diorama of its habitat.
Invite members of the school community to view the models. Students orally provide information about their selected minibeast and its habitat. Students will need time to rehearse their presentation, and receive feedback from peers prior to the minibeast exhibition.
Explore the life cycle of a minibeast through shared reading. Present students with diagrammatic representations of life cycles and the same information presented in written format only. Discuss the differences between these two types of reports and when each might be more suited.
Conduct an internet image search about insects’ lifecycle. Print images that show diagrammatical explanations. Devise a checklist to determine the effectiveness of these images.