Grade: Elementary
Subject: Science

#2061. Insects and Spiders of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Science, level: Elementary
Posted Tue Dec 5 06:42:52 PST 2000 by Judy Dulin (
Pi Beta Phi Elementary School, Gatlinburg, TN
Materials Required: listed within the activities
Activity Time: several days
Concepts Taught: classification, diversity, life cycles, observation, bar charts and graphs, creating models



All Living Things have Special Characteristics!

Objective(s): The learner will identify and draw characteristics.

Materials: 5 sheets of construction paper (any color) and tape, paper, and pencils or crayons or magic markers for each student, and 10 small poster boards for each label or any large size paper.

Lesson: Cut the construction paper in half and write a physical characteristic or special ability like "has green eyes", "loves animals", "is very funny" or "plays a musical instrument" on one side. Attach these labels to the poster boards. Let students observe themselves in a mirror and then draw self-portraits. Define the word characteristic. Discuss how all-living things have special characteristics including insects and spiders. Discuss physical features, social interaction, and special abilities. Ask the students to attach their self-portrait to one of the boards that describes them.

Eight Legs or Six?

Objective(s): The learner will compare body structure, life histories, and habitats of insects and spiders.

Materials: Large pictures of spiders and insects that may be found in Great Smoky Mountains National
Park (look in the category of ALL LIVING THINGS at, cardboard or blank
index cards, paper bags, markers or colored pencils, names of Great Smoky Mountains National Park
insects and spiders on slips of paper.

Lesson: "Eight Legs or Six" on page 11 from Ranger Rick's Nature Scope: Incredible Insects.
Washington, DC: National Wildlife Federation. 1984 ed. Judy Braus
Available in PBP Library

The Dressing Room

Objective(s): The learner will identify the stages in the life cycle of a moth and butterfly.

Materials: Any poster of the life cycle of a butterfly and a copy for each student of the "The Life of a Moth" sheet on page 3.

Lesson: Create, copy, and distribute "The Life of a Moth" sheets to students. Write the words "cocoon",
"chrysalis", "egg", "caterpillar", and "butterfly" and "moth" on the board. Show and discuss the poster of
the life cycle of a butterfly. Discuss the difference between a chrysalis and a cocoon and the definition of
metamorphosis. Complete "The Life of a Moth" sheet.

Preparing for the On-site Experience

Call the Education Rangers at 436-1292 to ask for a recommended field trip date and location. A site with picnic tables and restrooms will be needed. Early fall or late spring is best for observing insects and spiders.
Complete the school's required field trip forms.
Gather all the materials needed to complete on-site activities. A complete list of materials needed for the field trip is listed here. Materials are also listed for individual activities.

Pencils for each student
Enough magnifiers for each pair of students (optional)
One copy of the insects and spiders score sheet for each pair of students
One whistle
Gum drops of various colors
Trash bags

Four or five adults will be needed. Enlist parent or other volunteers for the field trip. Provide them with copies of the on-site activities, the proposed schedule, and assign them specific duties.

Proposed Schedule

9:00am Park Arrival
9:10am Teacher's explanation of the day's activity, behavior and safety expectations, and bathroom break
10:00am Counting Critters
11:00am Lunch
11:30am Yummy Bugs
12:30pm Clean up (to involve all students, parents, and teachers)
1:30pm Leave Park


Counting Critters

Objective(s): The learner will observe a diversity of insects and spiders and sort insects and spiders into groups.

Materials: Enough magnifiers for each pair of students (optional), one copy of the "Insects and Spiders Score Sheet" on page 9 for each pair of students, pencils for each student, and a whistle.

Special Consideration(s): (1) clipboards make writing much easier for students
(2) extra volunteers can help students with identification of insects and spiders
(3) students may want to wear insect or tick repellent

Lesson: Create and copy a tally sheet to include the insects and spiders listed below. Divide the students into 4 groups to represent each of the four directions. Put one teacher or one
parent in charge of each group. Then ask students to pair up. Distribute copies of the insects and spiders
score sheet on page 9 to each pair. Tell the students that they and their partners are locate as many insects
and spiders as possible within certain boundaries and record it on their score sheet. Demonstrate how they
are to place one mark on the score sheet for each little creature they find in the correct category. Time will
be up when they hear a whistle blown.

Each adult leader should provide the students with the following safety procedures and rules:
No catching creatures-just observing
No destroying habitats or homes of creatures such as rotting logs, spider webs, etc. . ...
No sticking hands in holes or crevices
No killing insects, spiders, or other small creatures that may be found

Remember: All plants and animals and their habitats are protected in the National Park.

Ask students if they were surprised at how many insects they found? Where were the insects where found?

The Insects an Spiders Score Sheet should include Beetles, Dragonflies,Flies,Bees or Wasp, Spiders, Butterflies or Moths, Grasshopper or crickets, Ants, Caterpillars, Cockroaches, and Not an insect or spider

Yummy Bugs

Objective: The learner will create models of insects and spiders and learn the concept of camouflage.

Materials: Four packages of toothpicks, gum drops of various colors, and trash bags.

Lesson: Assemble students around the picnic tables. Distribute bags of gumdrops and a box of toothpicks
to all the tables. Tell the students that they will be creating a model of an insect or spider. Assemble an
insect model to use for an example. Their insect or spider should have all the proper body parts. After they
are finished, talk about camouflage in animals found in the Smokies. Select two areas for hiding the
models. Divide the students into two groups. Assign 2 teachers and/or adult volunteers to each group. Let
each group hide their models in the selected areas. Ask students to return to the picnic tables after they hide
their model. Then ask students to switch areas and try to find one model each. They are to return to the
picnic table with the model they found. Discuss with the students which insects were harder to find and
why. Give volunteers trash bags and asks them to search the areas before leaving to make sure all models
have been retrieved because area wildlife may consume the candy or toothpicks.



Picture Those Numbers

Objective: The learner will produce a pictograph and bar graph of the results of their findings in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Materials: A copy of "Pictograph and Bar Graph of Insects and Spiders Found in Great Smoky Mountains National Park " sheet for each student and 5 or 6 copies of completed pictographs and bar graphs.

Lesson: Create, copy, and distribute copies of the "Pictograph and Bar Graph of Insects and Spiders Found in Great Smoky Mountains National Park " sheet to each student. Tell the student that we are now going to represent the information they collected in Great Smoky Mountains National Park in mathematical pictures. Tell them by using these pictures they will be able to answer more questions about Smoky Mountain insects and spiders. Demonstrate how the graphs are completed. Have an example of a completed pictograph and bar graph. Ask students to compare results with another student for about 5 minutes. Ask the students to explain what their pictures mean. Acknowledge any unusual finds or information to the entire group.

Pictograph and Bar Graph of Insects and Spiders Found in GSMNP

Student Names____________________________________________





Bees or Wasp


Butterflies or Moths

Grasshopper or crickets




Key: Each Circle equals 1 insect or spider

Bar graph 5 10 15 20



Bees or Wasp


Butterflies or Moths

Grasshopper or crickets



School Yard Safari

Objective(s): The learner will find signs of animals (mostly insects and spiders) living in the schoolyard and describe ways the school environment provides those animals with what they need.

Materials: (All optional) clipboards, drawing paper and colored pencils or markers, and hand lenses.

Lesson: SchoolYard Safari on page 151 of the Project Learning Tree: Environmental Education Pre k-8 Activity Guide. Washington, DC: American Forest Foundation, 1993.
Available in PBP Library