Friday, April 16, 2010

Taxonomy and the Animal Kingdom: Arthropods- Part One

For weeks, the children have been joyfully searching for small insects in the yard; so, I knew that the upcoming unit on arthropods would interest them.

The children began their unit on arthropods by reading the books What is an Arthropod? by Bobbie Kalman and Under One Rock: Slugs, Bugs, and Other Ughs by Anthony Fredericks and with a trip to the garden. A few weeks ago, our CSA farmer, Mike Record, suggested that we remove the mulch from our garlic bed; when we began, I realized there was such an interesting variety of arthropods living in the mulch that we decided to hold off on this task until we began our arthropod unit.

Even the youngest members of our community loved collecting arthropods and hauling loads of mulch around the garden with the wheelbarrow. The children found millipedes, centipedes, bean beetles, milkweed bugs, earwigs, and pill bugs/roly polys.

Afterwards, they got the opportunity to closely examine their specimens in specimen jars.

During line time, the children had the opportunity to view a small selection of aquatic arthropods, or crustaceans. The children examined a live lobster, barnacles, and a shrimp. In addition to helping the children to understand the amazing success and diversity of arthropods (they have been around for 500 million years and are still evolving, account for more than 90% of life on Earth, and live successfully in practically every habitat on Earth), beginning with crustaceans is a great way to give children the opportunity to learn about anatomy (it is much easier to see and feel the exo-skeleton, head, thorax, and abdomen on these larger creatures). The children were very interested!

I'm sure you can't guess what I might have had for dinner.... (but I hear arthropod risotto is quite tasty).

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