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Are cicadas your favorite insect?

  • 1.  Are cicadas your favorite insect?

    Posted 05-20-2021 01:42 PM
    As I wrote in 2017, we all have our favorite animals, and sometimes they are insects or other small creatures!  
    In my neighborhood we currently have the emergence of the cicada Brood X, and there are plenty of cicadas in the yard for everyone to have their own. Some children are scared of the exoskeletons (ecdysis) left behind by the nymphs as they change to the adult form and others try to collect as many of them as they can!
     
    Here are a few resources for learning more about these amazing and sometimes annoying insects:
    https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/brood-x-cicadas-are-emerging-at-last1/
    https://www.cicadamania.com/

     I'd love to hear about your favorite sites for helping children learn about interesting small animals that show up in our yards and playgrounds. 


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    Peggy Ashbrook
    Early childhood science teacher
    Alexandria, VA
    NSTA The Early Years columnist, Science and Children
    Early Years blogger, https://www.nsta.org/blog/all?keywords=Early+Childhood
    Author: Science Learning in the Early Years, and
    Science Is Simple
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  • 2.  RE: Are cicadas your favorite insect?

    Posted 05-20-2021 02:52 PM
    For kids who are a bit unsure about handling insects, I love using these magni-viewers. They're easy for littles to hold and manipulate, and they can observe from the top or the sides without the insect running away. For cicadas, they are so slow moving that kids can easily pick them up, have them ride on toy cars, toy boats, or play in dollhouses. They are my favorite teaching insect! I'm such a cicada fanatic that I put a collection of activities together for what can be a neighborhood or school-wide event, The Cicada Olympics. https://www.drcindysmith.com/cicada-olympics

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    Cindy Smith, PhD
    Associate Professor; K12 Education Director
    George Mason University's Potomac Environmental Research and Education Center
    Woodbridge VA
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  • 3.  RE: Are cicadas your favorite insect?

    Posted 05-21-2021 08:06 AM
    Small containers that help children see details  without fear of the small animal, and also to protect that small animal, are a great resource!
    Books that show up close detail are helpful for children who need to get comfortable with the idea of a different looking living organism before they can get close to it.
     What are your favorite books for learning about small creatures such as insects, isopods, and spiders?

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    Peggy Ashbrook
    Early childhood science teacher
    Alexandria, VA
    NSTA The Early Years columnist, Science and Children
    Early Years blogger, https://www.nsta.org/blog/all?keywords=Early+Childhood
    Author: Science Learning in the Early Years, and
    Science Is Simple
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: Are cicadas your favorite insect?

    Posted 06-02-2021 10:43 AM
    I admit that I cringed at the thought of children using live insects for Olympics and entertainment, because it sounds too much like zoos.  But I really enjoyed the photos on your website!  The students seem to be handling these great creatures carefully while they get up close, hands-on experience with nature. Plus it is adorable : ).  I think I might try making something more geared towards what big bugs might "wish" they could do, such as a cicada playground / amusement park.  In Reggio Emilia that was one of their famous projects that the children wanted to do -- design an amusement park for the birds.  If it happens this summer, I will post photos.  Thanks so much for what you are sharing!

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    Mars April Caulton
    Education Coordinator,
    Mary Crane Centers
    Chicago IL
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  • 5.  RE: Are cicadas your favorite insect?

    Posted 06-02-2021 12:16 PM
    Thank you for your comments Mars,
    My bigger idea is to move kids away from fear of insects, and to slowly gain an understanding of how essential they are to us and life. Not to get too much into research, but globally as well as locally insects are declining. You can see this trend around porch lights, and  even when driving around during the summer. How many bugs are you seeing smashed on your windshield?  Bringing the awareness that insects play a critical role in our ecosystems and food production is important. In my experience working with preservice elementary ed teachers, I ask them what they remember learning about bugs in their K-12 years. Most of them like butterflies and understand their life cycle, and many believe most bugs are gross and that bees are always looking to sting them. They are likely to share these fears with their students. By immersing them in insect activities, we slowly change their mindset. Like for example, I took them all (allergic students could opt out if desired) to our honeybee teaching hives. Even when dressed in full bee suits, for some it was challenging to be around around bees because they knew 'for a fact', that the bees wanted to sting them. After watching the honeybees go about their jobs in the hive, the realization dawned on them, that bees are just doing what they need to do in life, and humans aren't really a part of their daily life.  I also have them sit quietly and observe and describe pollinator behavior on a flower (e.g. how long a bee spends on a flower, what it does when it lands, etc..).
    Changing insect aversion as adults is more challenging than teaching insect empathy at a young age. Providing opportunities for kids to engage with insects in a fun way allows them to explore life cycles, differences in males, females and hopefully to build empathy for insects. I'd love to help kids become protectors of our environment by recognizing the different aspects of the ecosystems.
    Long-winded I know...
    Thanks very much for your feedback

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    Cindy Smith, PhD
    Associate Professor; K12 Education Director
    George Mason University's Potomac Environmental Research and Education Center
    Woodbridge VA
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  • 6.  RE: Are cicadas your favorite insect?

    Posted 06-03-2021 07:09 AM

    Cindy - I love this!  I actually teach at a school in Woodbridge and would love to hear more about your center!  My thing is worms :). I agree that every one loves butterflies.  Not everyone loves worms lol.    I do a unit on worms, and emphasize how much good they do.  I have had classes that spend their recess digging for worms.  We move our bodies to pretend we are worms making holes in the dirt.   We sing Herman the Worm.  I bring in worms hidden in dirt....the students find them and explore with them.  Many of them get over a resistance to touching/holding them over the course of a week.  My students spend at least 30 minutes every day enjoying this and don't ever lose interest.  My victory this year...one boy said "I was wrong, worms aren't yucky".  



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    Susan Ferguson
    Lead Teacher
    St. Paul Preschool and Kindergarten
    Woodbridge, VA
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  • 7.  RE: Are cicadas your favorite insect?

    Posted 06-03-2021 09:10 AM
    Hi Susan,
    I too love teaching with worms! I've got a nice population of compost worms working in my backyard composter if you ever need more. A few years ago we did a bunch of worm activities with kindergarteners and preschoolers in Manassas where the kids predicted the day before - what the favorite foods of the compost worms would be (e.g. they enjoy watermelon much more than citrus). The next day they checked their prediction. Kids were excited to discover that compost worms like the same food that they enjoy. The looked a life cycles and lined up different sizes of worms.  Lots of fun. I'd love to talk with you further off line about our center in Woodbridge. csmitc@gmu.edu

    As for cicadas near you, you can find them in Lake Ridge Park along the trails or, even better, almost any area with deciduous trees in Fairfax and bring them back to your school. Keeping freshly cut branches with them helps. I gather them in for programs in 5 gal buckets with a bunch of live branches.  https://www.princewilliamtimes.com/news/where-are-the-cicadas/article_bad761e2-beff-11eb-830f-4bd4c47b948a.html

    Smith, C. and M. Landry.  2013. The Wonder of Worms:  Inquiry-based learning for early elementary. Science and Children. National Science Teachers Association, Vol. 50:6 (6pp) 2/1/2013



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    Cindy Smith, PhD
    Associate Professor; K12 Education Director
    George Mason University's Potomac Environmental Research and Education Center
    Woodbridge VA
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  • 8.  RE: Are cicadas your favorite insect?

    Posted 06-05-2021 06:53 PM
    Hi all, a child and a worm actually led me to my doctoral work.
    Deb
    GrowingWonder.com

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    Deborah Schein
    instructor and consultant
    Minneapolis MN
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  • 9.  RE: Are cicadas your favorite insect?

    Posted 06-01-2021 04:05 PM
      |   view attached
    Hands-on counting with cicada exoskeletons on the mirror frame.

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    Mars April Caulton
    Education Coordinator,
    Mary Crane Centers
    Chicago IL
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  • 10.  RE: Are cicadas your favorite insect?

    Posted 06-18-2021 12:08 AM
    Hi Peggy,

    Fun fact: Cicadas share a family relation to shrimp and lobsters," the FDA posted on Twitter on Wednesday. ... Careful if eating them could become shellfish allergic... common allergies in the U.S., along with those to milk, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans


    Bugs are fun when there is a light table and bug slides to look at.

    Whiteney brothers light table for kidsbug blocks for use on light table | Light table, Bugs, Transparent resin



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    Melanie Smith
    The Preschool Doctor
    thepreschooldoctor.com
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