Insect Investigator

K, 1, 2

As students work as "insect investigators," they become more aware of their environment and become familiar with several insects and their unique characteristics. This activity is best used in spring or fall.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Forty-Five Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • identify the following common insects: dragonfly, bee, grasshopper, ant and fly.
  • use tally marks to record data.
  • record the number of insects he/she sees in a familiar environment.
  • collect several images in a PowerPoint of the following insects: dragonfly, bee, fly, grasshopper and ant
  • Student copies of Insect Investigator record sheet (handout)
  • Clipboards with pencils attached
  • Investigator materials proposed by students (such as magnifying glasses, flashlights, special hats, etc.)
  • a natural place to sit outside and observe insects
Home Connection 

Give each student a copy of the Insect Investigator record sheet to bring home. Give the instruction to record the insects they observe at home. They work with a parent or guardian to add up their tally marks for each insect. The next day, they bring the record sheet back to school in order to compare and contrast the number of insects found at school versus at home.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Show several images of insects and ask students to name them as you display them. Show them how to use tally marks to count how many there are of each type of insect. Teach them to use the word insect for animals with three body parts, two antennae, and wings. 

  2. Explain to students that they will be "Insect Investigators." Ask students to describe what it means to be an investigator, giving examples of investigators they know from books or movies. Talk about materials they'll need to investigate insects, which may include magnifying lens, recording notebook, and identification book. 

    Tell them about projects where people are asked to count frogs or bird songs for environmental organizations. Discuss how that is good for science and the common good. 

  3. Give students their record sheet, clipboard, and pencil they will be using while on their investigation.

  4. Review how to use tally marks to keep track of information. Talk about the number of tallies and compare the numbers. (There are ten more ants than butterflies.)

  5. Students may only put a mark when they see an insect. (Don’t make a tally if your friend sees a bumblebee.)

  6. Review how to BEE-have when outside. Investigators must be quiet so they do not interrupt the insect’s natural environment; they must stay in the assigned area; and they must return when the teacher gives the signal.

  7. Take the students outside to do their investigations. Explain the boundaries of the inspection area to the students. Allow the students approximately ten to fifteen minutes for their investigation.

  8. Return to the classroom to discuss the findings. Each student adds up the tallies for each insect observed. Discuss and compare the numbers of insects observed by the different students. Discuss why numbers differ. Compare and discuss which insects were observed the most and the least. Encourage students to propose why they think there were more/less of certain insects.

  9. Talk about the strengths of each insect, what the insects are good at doing, and what they contribute.

  10. Ask students how it felt to be an insect investigator. What did they like most and least? Tell them that people who have a career doing this sort of work are called Entomologists.


Assess students through observation of participation and accuracy as an investigator.