Bugs, not usually a favorite animal to study, can teach children in unusual ways. There are over 750,000 different species of insects so finding a bug that is interesting to a child is easy. Crickets were the chosen insect for this unit (doesn’t bite and is easy to find or buy at pet store or bait shop) but all the activities can be used with a child’s chosen insect to study.
Reading is the most important skill to reinforce at all age levels through the year. After choosing crickets (or a child’s favorite insect) to study, take a trip to the library and find books about crickets. Here are some titles to check out at the library.
A Pocketful of Cricket by Rebecca Caudill Ages 5 to 8
This Caldecott Honor classic celebrates Jay, a six year old who finds a cricket and makes it his friend. He shows a sense of wonder about nature in verse-like prose.
- Chirping Crickets by Melvin Berger Ages 5 to 10
This is one of the Let’s Read and Find-Out Science books. It includes hands-on activities for children to do while learning about crickets.
- I Wish I Were A Butterfly by James Howe Ages 4 to 8
The littlest cricket is sad when a frog told him he is the ugliest creature around the pond. The Old One, a spider on the pond, spins a wise tale about the real beauty of friendship and convinces the cricket to sing again.
- The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden Ages 8 to adult
This is one of the Chester Cricket series. It is a Newbery Honor book that shares a story of friendship and loyalty through Chester, a country cricket, who arrives in New York City. It can be a favorite read aloud story to share.
- The Very Quiet Cricket by Eric Carle Ages infant to preschool
A small cricket hatches and the other insects greet him. The little cricket wants to respond and greet the insects, but nothing happens when he rubs his wings together. Finally, he spies another cricket and attempts to greet her. This time he chirped the most beautiful sound. There is a computer chip that makes a very accurate cricket sound at the back of the book.
Use library books, encyclopedias, and the internet to research facts about crickets. Have a child find 10 interesting facts about a cricket and write them down on paper. Here is a list for crickets that one child compiled. Each child will have a different list of facts.
Field Cricket Facts
- Cricket is an invertebrate and has no backbone.
- Crickets were kept as pets in China and Japan in cages or boxes for their sounds.
- Only the male crickets chirp.
- The rate of the chirps can tell the temperature outside.
- Crickets have 3 main body parts – head, thorax, abdomen.
- Crickets grow by molting – shedding old skin and expanding to a new skin about 10 times before they are adults. This is simple metamorphosis.
- Crickets jump 20 to 30 times their body length or about 3 feet into the air.
- Crickets can’t make sounds with their mouths but rub their wings together to make sounds.
- In the autumn a female cricket lays between 150 to 400 eggs.
- Cricket fighting is a sport in China.
Entomologists are scientists who study insects. In 1758 a Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus developed a method to classify plants and animals which we still use today. A phrase to help us remember the order of classification is – KING PHILIP COME OUT FOR GOODNESS SAKE. This reminds us that the beginning letter of each word in the sentence stands for the order of classification.
Have a child find the classification for Field Cricket.
Kingdom – Animal;
Phylum – Arthropoda;
Class – Insecta;
Order – Orthoptera
Family – Gryllidae
Genus – Gryllus
Species – Gryllus assimilis (common name – Field Cricket)
Cooking and baking are also fun ways to learn. Crickets are food for many people in the world. They are actually quite healthy when we compare to other foods. Crickets are low in calories and fat and high in protein and calcium.
|100 grams of cricket contains: 121 calories, 12.9 grams of protein, 5.5 g. of fat, 5.1 g. of carbohydrates, 75.8 mg. calcium, 185.3 mg. of phosphorous, 9.5 mg. of iron, 0.36 mg. of thiamin, 1.09 mg. of riboflavin, and 3.10 mg. of niacin.
For the adventuresome here is a website that shares recipes using bugs. The cookie recipe is from the Audubon Institute.
Chocolate Chirpie Chip Cookies
2-1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 12 oz bag chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup dry roasted crickets
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In large bowl, combine butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla; beat until creamy. Beat in eggs. Gradually add flour mixture and insects; mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded measuring teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
Chocolate Covered Crickets
20 live adult crickets
4 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate
Rinse the crickets, pat dry and freeze them for half an hour until they're dead in a tight fitting container. (This can be tricky….) When dead, take out of freezer pulling off their legs and heads. Place on cookie sheet in 250 degree oven. Bake until they're crunchy (about 15 to 20 minutes). While the crickets are baking, melt the semi-sweet chocolate. Dip crickets in the melted chocolate and put them on a sheet of wax paper so the chocolate can cool. Enjoy.
The idea that crickets could tell the temperature was first studied by A. E. Dolbear in 1898. He studied various species of crickets to determine their "chirp rate" based on temperatures and found the snowy tree cricket to be the most accurate. Using T for temperature in degrees Fahrenheit and N for number of chirps, Dolbear published his results in the form of an equation - T=50+[(N-40)/4] This equation for cricket chirping is now known as Dolbear's Law.
|Just for fun and to get a rough estimate of the temperature using any cricket species chirp try this method.
- Count the number of chirps a cricket makes in 15 seconds. Record this number or remember it. Nighttime is the best time to listen.
- Add 37 to the number you wrote down.
- You now have a good estimate of the temperature outside in Fahrenheit!
Under INSECT SCIENCE make chirps using sandpaper wings.
- See how many “chirps” you would need to make in 15 seconds using the temperature of the day.
- For example, if it is 70 degrees Fahrenheit you would need to make 33 sandpaper chirps in 15 seconds. 33 chirps plus 37 would make 70.
- Egg carton sections are great tools to make various insects., The word insect in Latin means “segment” and the egg carton sections are easy to use for segments.
- Making pictures of insects using the tips of fingers dipped in ink or paint is another method of making insect segments. Using the thumbprint for large segments and the little finger for the smallest segments allow for a lot of creativity using crayons and markers to draw features.
- Crickets have compound eyes. Here is a site that describes how to make a compound eye from egg cartons and small mirrors.
- Using the Rice Krispies Treats recipe form a cricket shape while the mixture is still warm. Make 3 segments – head, thorax, and abdomen. Decorate with licorice strips, candies, and frosting for mouthparts, legs, and antennae. Place on a covered wax paper plate. Talk about the parts of the cricket when forming with the mixture.
Rice Krispies Treats Recipe
|3 Tablespoons butter
1 Package (10 oz.) regular marshmallows or 4 cups miniature marshmallows or 1 jar (7 oz.) marshmallow crème
6 Cups Rice Krispies cereal
Melt butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely nelted. Remove from heat. Add the rice cereal. Stir until well coated and begin to shape on the wax paper.
The chirps from crickets are created only by the male cricket. The sound is made by rubbing their wings together not by their mouths. A child will enjoy making their own cricket sounds by placing sandpaper on each of their forearms – wings – using rubber bands to attach. Rub the sandpaper together to make the chirp illustrating how the cricket rubs their wings together. Each wing has a scraper and a file and the rubbing together to make sounds is called stridulation.
To listen to cricket sounds try this website.
Insects Songs and Game
Games are fun ways to review information.
- This game called Draw A Cricket reviews the parts of a cricket.
- Depending on the age of the child you can use a diagram which can be colored in when appropriate for the roll of the die or use a plain piece of paper or erase board.
- You will need 1 die and this can be an individual or group game.
- Each player throws the die on their turn and draws the correct body part. The winner is the first to draw a complete cricket.
1 = head
2 = abdomen
3 = thorax
4 = antennae (1 pair)
5 = wings (2 pair)
6 = legs (3 pair)
Songs can be used to teach and review information also. This song reminds a child that crickets are insects. It is song to the tune of My Darling Clementine.
It's an Insect
It's an insect
not a spider
it has six legs
instead of eight.
3 on this side
3 on that side
and it's crawling on my plate.
This website has more songs about crickets and insects.