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 Thirty-Minute and One 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.
  • Models (pictures, toys, puppets, stuffed animals, etc.) of the following insects: dragonfly, bee, fly, grasshopper and ant
  • Paper bag (with the above objects inside)
  • Student copies of record sheets (Handout One: Insect Investigator)
  • Clipboards with pencils attached
  • Investigator materials proposed by students (such as magnifying glasses, flashlights, special hats, etc.)
Home Connection 

Interactive Parent / Student Homework:Give each student a copy of Handout One: Insect Investigator 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:

    Hold up the "mystery bag" for the students but don’t show or tell them what is inside. (Inside the brown paper bag are models of the five insects listed above. Example: a stuffed bumblebee, a toy grasshopper, a picture of a butterfly and an ant farm.) Tell the students they may ask you questions to help them guess what is inside. As they guess an object, take the object out of the bag. (Note to teacher: make sure NOT to tell students it is an insect!) You may give hints as needed. After all insects have been pulled from the bag, ask students what all of the items from the bag have in common. Guide the students to state that they are all insects.

  2. Briefly name and describe each insect, giving some basic facts. Let the students volunteer what they know about the insects. (Second Grade extension: have students name specific body parts and characteristics of insects.)

  3. Explain to students that they will be "Insect Investigators." Ask students to describe what it means to be an investigator. Ask students to give examples of investigators they know (e.g., Inspector Gadget).

  4. Ask students what type of materials they think they might need in order to be investigators. Write their ideas on the board and then help them find the materials they propose, if appropriate.

  5. Ask students how an investigator can keep track of information. Show students their record sheet, clipboard and pencil they will be using while on their very important investigation.

  6. Review (or introduce) how to use tally marks to keep track of information. Demonstrate using tally marks on the board to tally the eye colors of students. Talk about the number of tallies and compare the numbers. (There are ten more students with brown eyes than blue eyes.)

  7. Closure: Have students sing "Buzzy the Bumblebee" song from Lesson One: What’s All the Buzz About?

  8. Day Two:

  9. Review the names of the insects discussed in Day One.

  10. Describe the procedures to the "insect investigators" for going on an insect hunt. Pass out the record sheets (Attachment One) on the clipboards and show students how they make tallies for each insect observed when they are outside. Tell the students that in order for their records to be correct, inspectors need to work accurately and try their personal best.

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

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

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

  16. 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.