Saturday, April 20, 2013

Praying Mantis Egg **Update**

Picture a classroom of 24 first graders.
They are completing their Phonics work and then head out to the restroom.  As they trickle back into the room they see 3 of their classmates with huge grins and sparkly eyes.  The children are trying not to laugh and their teacher {me} keeps telling them not to tell the secret until everyone is back in the room.  Once all the students are back at their seats a few have already noticed what the secret is and are as excited as the other few kids.  Can you imagine what the room looks like and sounds like with 24 first graders once they realise that their Praying Mantis egg casing has hatched?  Well let me tell ya the office down the hall probably could hear us. 

We didn't have as many nymphs as we have had in the past with these but we still had a lot.  We kept them 2 days and then took them outside to release them around the school.  A few of them refused to come out of the bag so I took those home to have my husband release.

I always have one of these at home with my own kids to observe and we were lucky that it hatched yesterday.  We actually got to watch the nymphs swarm out of the casing.   At first I thought they were dead but it didn't take long and they were running and jumping all over the sides of the netting. Sorry the picture isn't very clear but here they are as they are coming out of the egg.

Where do you get one of these wonderful egg casing?
I'm glad you asked:)
I buy mine from Insect Lore.  I love this site.  I have bought several Praying Mantis eggs over the years and I also get my Painted Butterfly Caterpillars from here too. I have only ever had trouble with one Praying Mantis egg and they were wonderful with sending me a replacement for the one that didn't hatch.  Insect Lore also has lot of other wonderful items that I am looking into getting to broaden my Science Center. 
So if your looking for something easy and exiting to do with your kiddos I would highly recommend a Praying Mantis egg. 
You and the kids won't be disappointed:)


Friday, April 19, 2013

Writing Animal Research Reports!

Hey All! I am a first grade teacher from Fall Into First and I wanted to share the fun way that my students learned to write research reports that centered around our amazing class pet! 
We are working on Informative Writing and we are about to begin writing our ZooPals Animal Research Reports! Before I let my students begin their own report, we write an animal research report together from beginning to end so that I can model the steps to informative writing. 

Our whole-group research report is about desert tortoises because we have a desert tortoise as a class pet!  (Did I mention I live in Arizona?)
Meet Shelldon! 
(For the record he has had that name long before the TV show The Big Bang started)
Shelldon became part of my class about four years ago. A former family called and asked if I was interested in adopting him because they were moving and needed to find him a new home. FYI a tortoise is a GREAT classroom pet, they are super low maintenance,  and the kids LOVE him! 

I went to the library and found several easy-read non-fiction book about Desert Tortoises.
(Desert Tortoises by Christopher Blomquist, Desert Tortoises by Sophia Lockwood and Desert Tortoises by Elizabeth Thomas)

We brainstormed the topics we would like to research and wrote them on our planning sheet. We decided to write about:
  • what a tortoise looks like
  • what a tortoise eats
  • where a tortoise lives
  • cool facts about the desert tortoise
Each day we read through our non-fiction text looking for facts that fit our topic. The kids did a great job. We tackled one page a day so we spent about one week researching and writing. 
Page 1 - A desert tortoise has a hard shell that covers its body. Their back legs look like little elephant feel. An adult tortoise is nine to fifteen inches long. 
Page 2 - A desert tortoise is a herbivore. They eat cactus, wildflowers and dried plants. They get water from the plants they eat.
 Page 3 - A tortoise lives on land. They dig burrows to stay cool. Desert tortoises live in Arizona, California and Mexico.
Page 4 - Desert tortoises live up to 100 years. They are in danger of dying out so laws protect them. A hatchling is about 2 inches long.
I wanted my students to get the FULL report writing experience so we did revisions then "published" our report by typing it in the computer lab! 
(I love technology and try to incorporate it whenever possible, this was NOT my students first experience using Microsoft Word) It took a little time and patience but when they typed their report but they were so incredibly proud of themselves!
We made this cute little tortoise art project by painting a bowl brown and gluing on tissue paper.
Next, my students worked in a small group to write their own ZooPals Animal Research Report! Click here to read all about it!  They turned out AMAZING!

Click here to get my Animal Research Report packet!

Thanks for reading! Stop by my blog to find more ideas and resources for your primary classroom!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

{insect invasion} mealworms, crickets, and caterpillars!

Well, we are officially opening up a zoo in Mrs. Lamb's class!
not really
but it feels that way
we have always used several insects for observation during our life cycle unit
it just seemed to happen all at once this year!
Everything came within 2 days
rather than spaced out like we had planned
but I am nothing if not flexible!

So first things first-we began with our mealworm study
the caterpillars were fine in their cup
the crickets were in the closet
and the incubator was warming up waiting on the eggs

I thought I would try to supply to with some management tips if you alo teach life cycles!
one: everything needs a home and a label!
all eggs get a number and an X and 0 for turning purposes

all mealworms are in a personal habitat labeled with parent names
these are solo cups and lids
I've had lots of inquiries! 

Caterpillars actually stay in the container they arrive in. If you order a butterfly kit, this is how it will arrive.
You transfer them to the butterfly tent when they form their chrysalis by attaching the paper towel to the side of the tent. 

and for the lap of luxury
here's the cricket condo!
We attached 2 liter bottles to each side of a central container
one side is filled with moist soil for egg laying (which was all day long!)
and the other with dry sand
if the middle is the "play area" or "living room" 
it just has paper towels and pieces of cardboard to prevent the inevitable cannibalism

now, don't get me wrong
it's a lot of work on my part
but if my class was a tad more well behaved, it would have been easy to do this with them!
they did set up their mealworm habitats
this is the creature they interact with the most
and they are by far the cleanest!
and they can survive falls from desks
and they can't hop too quickly to get away
you get the picture

so here's a peek at what we've done this week in science

these are our birth announcements
Next year I will do some for each insect
but this year they are all mealworms
these are included in my file as well as everything below

and lots of observing and recording

so if you'd like to observe some little creatures with a complete metamorphosis
mealworms are definitely the way to go!
widely available at your local pet store
cheap in large quantities
and clean and easy!
I'm also adding a few more ideas to my unit as we go
I keep finding new ways to explore these boogers
so snatch it up now!

Monday, April 8, 2013

One Egg Lots of Babies

My class is very excited about our new pet egg.
This little egg isn't like any other egg.
It doesn't have a soft baby chick inside.
It doesn't have just one baby in it either.
It has anywhere from 75-200 babies in it.
It is a Praying Mantis egg casing.

These egg casings are much like a spider's egg that when it hatches lots of babies will come out.
Praying mantis are great for gardens and farms.
They eat all the bugs that harm plants.  And they even eat those pesky bugs that bug humans like mosquitoes. 

Once our egg hatched we will only be able to keep them about a day and then they will have to be released in our park.  After that one day the babies will start to eat each other or just die without food like aphids {which I don't have lying around handy}.

The Praying Mantis are known to stay around where they are born or released as long as there is enough food for them.  In the years past that I have had these with my students we have been able to find babies weeks later in the park in the bushes.  The kiddos are always so excited when they find them and always have to show them off to the Kindergarten kids that we have recess with each day. 

We have had our egg casing for about 2 weeks now so any day this next week are so we should have lots of babies to observe.  I know we are excited to see these amazing creatures and learn more about them. 

I would love to hear if you have had any unusual pets or visitors in your classrooms.