March 24, 2010

Bugs and Bugsicles

Insects in the Winter

by Amy S. Hansen

Illustrated by Robert C. Kray

Boyds Mills Press, 2010

ISBN #978-1-59078-763-2


Ages 6-10

“It is late September and the sun is still warm when a Monarch Butterfly lands on a purple aster. She’s grabbing a quick sip of nectar before flying south.

A Honeybee aims for a yellow marigold. She will need food to get thorough the winter.

On the grass below, five Pavement Ants hurry past, carrying seeds. They march underground, going down to their nest to get away from the dangers of frost.”

I always wondered what insects did in the winter and where they went. This realistically illustrated picture book answers just that. Following the gentle introduction describing the preparations for the fall season, the book follows different insects as they prepare and settle in for the winter, and in some instances, die, after leaving their eggs safely secured. Text filled with specifics and interesting details about the insects traces among others, a dragonfly, praying mantis, field cricket, ladybug, a pavement ant, and Arctic wooly bear caterpillar (turns into a wooly bear moth), whose body is adapted to freeze and thaw and the alluded-to bugsicle. The book ends with a poetic slide into winter and a promise of spring to follow.

The large illustrations contribute well to the text and show the insects up close, in their natural habitat, and in detail. There is an author note, additional reading suggestions, and an index. Best of all, the back matter suggests two experiments related to freezing that the readers can easily do.

This book holds great information and should delight any nature lover or curiosity-filled kid and will answer the questions about where insects go in the winter for anyone.

Activity 1

Look up insect life cycles and find out the difference between metamorphosis and incomplete metamorphosis. Name two insects that exhibit the different life cycles.

Use this page to follow the Monarch butterfly’s development.

Use this page to follow the dragonfly’s development.

This site has lessons to follow the development of some insects.

Use this information to learn about metamorphosis.

Activity 2

Carrry out one of the experiments in the book. Record the results and write up the findings using the scientific method.

Use this form to guide your write up.

Learn more about Amy S. Hansen and see her other books.

National Science Standard: life cycles; organisms and their environment

Book provided by author.

Little Black Ant on Park Street

March 3, 2010



Little Black Ant on Park Street

By Janet Halfmann

Illustrated by Kathleen Rietz

Soundprints, Smithsonian’s Backyard, 2009

NF information, ant point of view

Grades K-3 

            “Little black ant pokes her head from a tiny sandy hill dotting the lawn of the house onPark Street. It is sumertime and the anthill is a flurry of activity.

            Beneath the hill lies a busy ant city, with many rooms connected by little tunnels. There are rooms for the ant queens, nurseries for the eggs and babies, a sickroom, fod storage rooms and bedrooms for the workers.”

With a storybook feel, the activities and life of little black ants in this book carries the reader through the work of an ant from an ant’s point of view. From finding a tasty meal to share with the other ants to aphids to a new queen, this book shows in fascinating detail what ants do and how they live and work. The brightly colored art contributes to the interest and comprehension of the text and illustrates the size relationship to ants and their world very well. The book is deceptively simple in appearance but holds a wealth of information for budding entomologists and young readers alike.

Activity 1

Look up the ant life cycle. Create a bar graph illustrating the number of days each part of the cycle takes to grow an ant from egg to adult.

Enchanted Learning has a simple diagram. 

Activity 2

Look up information about aphids. Write a paragraph explaining how they show mutualism with the ants.

See definition of mutualism and explanation here.

See Growing With Science for three posts about this book and excellent information from Roberta’s work with ants. Her blog Wrapped in Foil disusses the book thoroughly. She suggests many great activities to accompany this fun book.

Good ant information

More ant facts

Information and ant photographs

Lesson relating to ants

Some great ant pictures

National Science Standard: life cycle of organisms

Book provided by author.


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