When it comes to kids and bugs, there's some kind of magnetic attraction. While they may seem ho-hum to adults, for example, pill bugs have a way of curling and uncurling that can keep a kid mesmerized; while a ladybug can charm a whole crowd.
Want to take advantage of these simple thrills while boosting math and science knowledge at the same time? Try taking a walk outdoors with your Young Biologist, and give her some practice observing, tallying, and categorizing while you're at it. Here's a simple hands-on activity to try together.
What You Need:
- A patch of bug-filled open space such as a yard, park, or neighborhood garden
What You Do:
- Discuss with your child the type of insects he'd expect to find when you take your walk. He may suggest ants, bees, pillbugs, and butterflies. Make a chart showing these insects, but also leave some blank spaces for any other bugs you find along the way. Place the chart on a clipboard so you can walk around and take notes.
- Get outdoors, whether it's your yard, a park, or a neighborhood garden. Have your child make a tally mark in the appropriate column each time he spies an insect. You may want to add an “unknown insect” category to your chart, just in case you come across anything that's not easily identifiable. While you're walking, take time to observe the insects, noting their size and pattern of movement (flying, crawling, or both).
- Make a bar graph to show the insects you found. List the types of bugs on the left, and then on the horizontal line, the y-axis, write numbers 0 to the greatest amount you tallied. Using your tally chart, help your child make bars to show the data. For example, if your data shows 4 bees, have your child draw a bar to number 4 on the graph. Continue until you and your child have represented all of the tally marks on the graph.
- Discuss the data shown on the graph. Have your child tell you what each bar shows. Ask him which insects he saw most or least often. Explain to him that bar graphs make your comparison of insects easy and fun--and they're also a skill that will show up again and again in Big Kid Math!
Sally is an experienced educator with over 14 years of teaching experience. In addition to teaching, she has also created educational materials, including ancillary, textbook, and test items, for Grades K-8 for major educational publishers.