Spring is my favorite time of year when working with my first grade students. They know the routines, have become independent, and are flourishing in the classroom. We always end the year by spending a week on each animal group. It is a great opportunity to integrate science into reading. As a bonus, we work on the research standard in writing. Here’s a peek at my non-fiction unit full of insect activities for first grade. Although insects really bug me (ha ha)….they are my favorite group to teach. It is truly amazing how they metamorphosize and change completely.
When we begin any non-fiction unit, I love to choose an anchor chart to build our learning. In this unit, I have a KWL chart and a Schema and New Learning Chart. Usually, I use the opposite of what I used in the unit before just to change things up a bit. I also love to use sticky notes rather than writing directly on the chart paper. This allows me to be able to move any misconceptions and change the chart as needed throughout the week.
The first few days we learn about the basic characteristics of insects. We read All About Insects a mini paper book and complete some simple activities such as labeling an insect, writing about it, and sorting. We also read Fly Guy Presents Insects by Tedd Arnold and On Beyond Bugs! By Tish Rabe. During these three days, the students absorb information about all kinds of insects and their new learning grows.
In typical fashion, I love to incorporate fiction into my non-fiction units. So, on Thursday we always read The Bugliest Bug by Carol Shields. This adorable story is about some sneaky spiders who disguise themselves as insects and hold a contest to see who is the bugliest bug. Their plan backfires on them when a sweet little firefly sees through their disguise. This story is the perfect opportunity to review spiders which we learn about in the fall. After reading this story, we complete a fun little colorful Characters Analysis sort, discuss the characters, setting, and review some fiction comprehension strategies.
On Friday we read the mini book Insects vs. Spiders. We dive into the similarities and differences. I have a fun colorful sort for this too. When we finish reading, I put the children in groups, and they complete a sort together. Sometimes I give them the cards with the words and they sort them, and other times I give them blank cards and they write out the similarities and differences. It depends on the year and my students.
While we do all the fun things explained above during whole group guided reading, we are also exploring insects during our writing time. By day 2 we have a good understanding of what an insect is. On this day we pick our top two insects that we want to learn more about. They choose from ladybugs, butterflies, grasshoppers, bees, and dragonflies. Once they have made their choices, I put them in groups. We work for a day gathering facts about our insect using books and computers. They LOVE this time. I’m not going to lie, I do too!
The rest of the week we get into our groups to work on the reports I have created. They collaborate with one another, research together and work hard to make their reports their very best work. I really emphasize how this is their time to shine and show off how neat and polished their work can be. On the very last day, I allow them to make a craft to go with their project. They also share their projects with their friends in class.
This insect unit is part of a year-long bundle, GUIDED READING WITH A PURPOSE. You can read all about GRP here!
Did you need a digital version of insect activities for first grade? I have that too.
During this week we do some other fun things too! We get caterpillars delivered and begin working in our Caterpillar to Butterfly journals. You can read more about this here!
This week of insect activities for first grade also lends itself to a new fun literature companion I made for The Very Impatient Caterpillar.
You can even shop insect activities for first grade right here at my store too.
Here are some things buyers had to say about my Insect Unit!
“Great unit! Everything about it is great. I use the posters and vocabulary for my focus wall. My kids love the schema sheets and the before/after reading activities.”
“This is a great unit! My firsties loved learning about it all. Great activities!”
“Cute and simple but it includes the facts the second graders need to know. Thank you! Mini-books for our book boxes!”
“I liked the variations that are accompanied with everything. I also liked the crafts and how they can vary for different skill levels.”
And if you’re looking for similar units I have lots to choose from including Amphibians, Reptiles, and more! You can check out all 6 animal units here.