Do you want your students to use their powers of observation and hearing to find out how an egg changes to an insect? Making observations and listening are all part of this elementary lesson plan. The lifecycle of a grasshopper provides a wealth of material to excite young students.
Objectives and Standards
Use books, pictures and discussions to learn about the lifecycle of the grasshopper.
Use their senses to make observations of characteristics and behaviors of living things.
Infer from observation that living things need air, food, shelter.
Demonstrate awareness that living things depend on their environment to meet their basic needs
Grasshopper Green is a Comical Chap
Gather your students together and share with them the verse Grasshopper Green from A Child's Own Book of Verse by Ada M. Skinner. What things in the verse are true facts about the grasshopper? (e.g. his movements, where he lives) After discussing the humor of this verse you may like to introduce the real grasshopper story with a copy of The Grasshopper Book by Wilfrid Swancourt Bronson, or Are You a Grasshopper? by Judy Allen and Tudor Humphries. Take time to examine the pictures and discuss the characteristics of the grasshopper. Compare the book details with the verse.
A Marvelous Metamorphosis
Ask students to give their definitions of the word metamorphosis. Ask them to tell of other living things that go through metamorphosis (butterfly, frog).
After examining books and pictures about the grasshopper gather students together, and print the stages of the lifecycle of the grasshopper on a large chart. Eggs: these are laid in the grass by the mother grasshopper and are very tiny and oval shaped. Nymphs: these are similar in appearance to an adult grasshopper, but they do not have any wings. During this stage they outgrow and molt their skins up to five times. Adults: after about one month a nymph becomes an adult with wings. They live about two months and lay their eggs towards the end of the summer.
Activity 1: A Life Cycle Circle: Provide students with two circles of paper the same size. Invite them to divide one circle into quarters, and illustrate and label one of the stages of the life cycle in each part. From the other circle cut out one quarter, then attach the two circles together with a brad fastener and use as a wheel to show the development. Remind students to refer to the chart for the four life stages.
Activity 2: A Filmstrip Story: Provide students with long strips of paper and ask them to fold them into several sections. In each section show the grasshopper in its stages of development. Remind the students that the molting process could be used in several of the sections - compare with a snake shedding its skin. Encourage the children to write their own captions for each picture.
Oh No! Who is Looking for a Tasty Treat?
Discuss with the class how predators can have an effect on the lifecycle of the grasshopper.
Invite students to make up a poster with a grasshopper in the center and pictures of its predators all around. They could add words such as "Please don't eat me" or "No I don't want to be your supper" etc. Birds, lizards, spiders and rodents all find grasshoppers a delectable snack.
Other factors that have an effect on the population of grasshoppers include the weather. For instance a mild winter and a dry spring allow many more eggs to survive and hatch. Invite students to divide a paper into two sections. On one side show grass and lots of eggs with the nymphs hatching and the heading "A Dry Spring." On the other half show grass in a rain storm with just one or two eggs and no nymphs with the heading "A Cold Wet Spring."
It's That Tiny?
Elementary students often have difficulty grasping how big or how small things are. In order for them to appreciate how tiny a grasshopper egg is you could bring in grains of rice and a hen's egg. Tell them that the rice represents a grasshopper egg. Invite them to trace around the rice grains and try to measure them with non standard measures such as safety pins, or blocks. Pose questions such as: How many grains of rice (grasshopper eggs) equals a gram?
Nothing Beats the Real Thing
Encourage students to bring in grasshoppers or explore areas around the school to locate them. Look in areas with grasses. Use a net to trap the insects, place them gently in a container. Transfer them to an aquarium with a screened lid. It is recommended that there is a light source either in or near the aquarium to provide heat. You will need a dish of sand for the grasshoppers to lay their eggs. Provide fresh grass, lettuce, cabbage or other plant material that would be native to the area. They do not need water as they obtain this from the food they eat.
Students will be able to observe at first hand the characteristics of the grasshopper and, if the conditions are favorable, the hatching and life cycle.
Can You Hear it?
To give your students an idea of the sound a grasshopper makes share with them the book The Very Quiet Cricket by Eric Carle. At the end of the book there is a "sound." Explain to students that this is a simulation of a cricket sound, and that it is made by their wings rubbing together. A grasshopper makes a very similar sound by rubbing his back legs together.
Conclusion and Assessment
Using books, pictures, discussions and the presence of the insects in the classroom invite students to describe, illustrate, write and talk about their discoveries.
What do grasshoppers need to survive from egg to adult? From where do they obtain these things? What did they see the grasshoppers doing?
Did the students understand:
That there are four stages to the lifecycle of the grasshopper?
That a grasshopper has certain characteristics?
That a grasshopper uses its environment for its needs?
Resources and References
Grasshopper Information, http://insected.arizona.edu/ghopperinfo.htm
Curriculum Standards for Science, 2004 in correlation with National Science Education Standards, 1996
Characteristics and Needs of Living Things: It's Alive. Published by Scholastic Canada, 2000
A Child's Own Book of Verse, Book One by Skinner, Ada and Wickes, Frances. Yesterday's Classics, 2006
The Grasshopper Book by Swancourt, Wilfrid. Sunstone Press, 2008
Are You a Grasshopper? by Allen, Judy and Humphries, Tudor. Kingfisher Press, 2004
The Very Quiet Cricket by Carle, Eric. Philomel Books, 1990