Carrie Robledo, APRIL SUMMEY
English Language Arts, Science
Material Type:
Lower Primary
  • NCEngineers
  • Second Grade
  • Stem
  • k5engineers
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike

    Education Standards

    Making Insects Come Alive

    Making Insects Come Alive


    In this unit, students will research insects and dive into writing juicy paragraphs with main ideas and supporting details. They will create their insect out of various materials to get ready for the gallery opening.

    Instructor Directions


    Making Insects Come Alive

    Submitted by April Summey

    Henderson County Public Schools 


    Driving Question / Scenario

    Help!  The local artist who uses nature clippings to create art pieces has come down with the flu. He needs you to fill in for him and he has a gallery opening in two weeks!  You will need to research an insect, write about it, and then include a creative way to showcase the insect. 


    What materials will you need?

    What steps should we take first?

    Project Summary

    In this unit, students will research insects and dive into writing juicy paragraphs with main ideas and supporting details. They will create their insect out of various materials to get ready for the gallery opening. 

    Estimated Time

    2 weeks 

    Materials / Resources

    -Articles about various insects.  Students started with Encyclopedia Britannica found within NCWiseOwl

    -Various nature clippings 

    -Elmer’s liquid glue 

    -Makey makeys plus Playdoh

    -Access to Scratch 

    -3D printer

    -Access to TinkerCad (students can log in with Google)

    -Access to devices to be able to use or for StopAnimation  

    -Insects Google Slides Presentation 

    -Main idea/details graphic organizer

    -Juicy paragraph notes template

    -Bees of Minecraft Article 


    2nd grade 


    ELA, Science 

    Educational Standards


    RI.2.2 Identify the main topic of a multiparagraph text as well as the focus of specific paragraphs within the text.

    RI.2.3 Describe the connection between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text.

    W.2.2 Write informative/explanatory texts in which they introduce a topic, use facts and definitions to develop points, and provide a concluding statement or section.


    2.L.1.1 Summarize the life cycle of animals


    • Birth.

    • Developing into an adult

    • Reproducing

    • Aging and death

    Classifying Objective

    1. Be able to write the main idea(s) and supporting details for a text.

    2. Be able to identify the focus of specific paragraphs within a text

    3. Analyze how paragraphs are connected and provide transitions when writing informational text.

    4. Write paragraphs with a clear focus, details, and a closing sentence.

    5. Develop a creative way to showcase your insect.

    Project Outline


    Help!  The local artist who uses nature clippings to craft insect pieces has come down with the flu. He needs you to fill in for him and he has a gallery opening in two weeks!  You will need to research an insect, write about it, and then include a creative way to showcase your insect. He wants to do a unique opening that shows the insects in a variety of ways, not just with nature clippings like he has done in the past. 


    As a class, how can we ensure that the gallery opening is a success and that it includes a variety of insects represented in many different ways?  

    What materials will you need?

    What steps should we take first?

    How can we make the insects come alive? 


    After sharing the problem, have students brainstorm next steps. To brainstorm insects, ask them to write down as many insects as they can and then after 3 minutes play a game where each student names one of their insects, but they can’t repeat one that has already been named. When they run out of insects, they sit down. The winner is the person who says the most insects. After the game, I share some examples of insects with pictures (found in the Insects Google Slides Presentation) 


    Next, explain that the artist has sent over a video showing his artistic process.  Video about the artist


    After watching the video, also explain that this time the artist wants to include informational writing pieces about each insect in the gallery. The writing can be strictly informational or written from the insect’s point of view.  Have students brainstorm where they could find information about insects. 


    Next, have students brainstorm ways that they can make the insects come alive.  Some might say we can do art pieces made from nature clippings like the artist.  Steer them to develop some new ideas...could they 3D print the insects, could they use Makey Makeys with Scratch, could they use Brush Ninja ( or PixilArt (  to create a StopAnimation video teaching about the insect?  


    During this stage, explain to students that you will be doing some mini lessons on writing. Give each student the Bees of Minecraft article and explain they are going to work on finding the main idea. Explain that the main idea and details are similar to a table. The top of the table is the main idea and the legs are the details that hold it up. Students will write the main idea of the text on the main idea and details graphic organizer. Dive into the text by looking at each section to help students. Students should be encouraged to write on the text as they find the focus of each paragraph. You will need to do a mini lesson on paraphrasing the text as well. Tell students that they can’t be a pirate and steal the words. They must put them into their own words. There is an example paragraph in the Google Slides. 


    The Minecraft article is found on Newsela so the Lexile level can be adjusted for different levels. Before students begin writing details, they need to come to a consensus about the main idea. Advanced students might point out that the article actually has two main ideas: Big insects existed long ago and Minecraft bees would not survive due to their dimensions. After filling out the main idea/details chart, model for students how to turn the information into a paragraph. How could you open the paragraph, what would be in the middle, and how would you close it?  A sample paragraph is found in the Google Slides presentation. 


    Explain that when they research insects, they will need to find the main idea and details of the text. Many of the insect articles will have several paragraphs and each paragraph will have a different focus.  Share with students that when researching they must have reliable information. 


    Look at this website and discuss what students notice and wonder. 

    Help Save the Endangered Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus

    What lessons can we learn from this website? 

    Guide students to understand that anyone can create a website with incorrect information. 


    We are going to use NCWiseOwl and Britannica Elementary to research insects. 

    -Go to and then click Britannica Elementary to search for your insect. 

    -Read the entire article

    -If you were to write three paragraphs about your insect, what could the focus of each paragraph be? Stress that one of the paragraphs must be about insect life cycles. Allow students to brainstorm other possibilities as a group: habitat, physical features, behaviors, interesting facts, etc. Share the examples from the Google Slides Presentation. 


    Once students select an insect and begin their research, model for them how to take notes using the Juicy Paragraph Notes Template. Include a reminder about paraphrasing. 


    As students continue their research, do a mini lesson on various ways to start and end paragraphs.  Show students examples of writing samples that don’t have transitions between the paragraphs and give them solutions to use when they do their writing. 


    Once students have completed their graphic organizer for all three paragraphs, they can start their writing. Some students may choose to write from the insect’s point of view, while others may want it to be strictly informational. 


    Once students are through with their writing, they need to plan for how to make their insect come alive: 


    If they are using nature clippings to make the insect come alive...take a nature walk and collect nature clippings. Tell students to look for materials that they will use to make their insect. Remind them to include all of the features that the insect has. They can also make a plan for how to creatively show the life cycle. 


     If students are making their insects with TinkerCad to 3D print, have them do a sketch of the insect at this time using  or Google Drawing.


    If they are using the Makey Makeys, they will construct their insect out of Playdoh. They can also draw out the life cycle of the insect and plan how to create that out of Playdoh.  They also need to plan what they would say about each stage in the life cycle so they can record that in Scratch.


    Students using BrushNinja/Pixel Art will draw a sketch of their insect and map out the frames of the stop animation video. They could include frames that show the life cycle.  


    Here are notes for each way that they choose: 


    Nature clippings: Spread paper or a tarp on the floor for the nature clippings and make sure that you have plenty of Elmer’s glue. Students will draft their piece to include all of the features of the insect as well as the life cycle. 


    Tinkercad to 3D print: Students can log into Tinkercad with their Google accounts and join your class.  Make sure to include a tutorial on how to move the camera views to make sure all of the parts of the insect are connected.  


    Makey makeys and Scratch:  View the Makey makey tutorial ( Students will create the insect out of Playdoh including all of the important features. Then they will code the Makey makeys with Scratch ( to tell about their insect. For example, if an alligator clip is attached to the playdoh larvae, they could provide details about that part of the life cycle. If an alligator clip is attached to the legs, they might share details about how the insect traps their prey.  If you click here and then hit see inside, you can see the code that students created.  There are pictures below as well as a video. 


    BrushNinja/PixelArt: Students will go to or and draw their frames. They can adjust the frames to last longer or shorter times. It is also very easy to share their stop motion creations.  Here is a student example.


    Students will revise their creations as needed. Throughout the process, you might ask the following…


    Nature clippings: Are you including all of the features of the insect?  How can you incorporate the life cycle? 


    TinkerCad to 3D print: Are all of the features attached? How could you show the life cycle with 3D printing?


    Makey makey and Scratch: What information do you want to include about the insect? What do you need to record in Scratch? How can you hook up the Makey Makey to complete a circuit and work correctly? There is a lot of trial and error involved during this step. 


    BrushNinja/PixilArt:  How can you make your stop animation video show details about your insect?  How can you show their life cycle with details?   

    Closure / Student Reflections

    Students will share their writing and creations by displaying them in gallery-like fashion. They could invite in parents or other classes to see their masterpieces. 

    Possible Modifications / Extensions

    Students could write less paragraphs about their insect. 

    Depending on the insect, you might have to guide students to more informational sources such as books or other websites besides Britannica. 


    You could focus solely on one product type instead of giving all 4 options. TinkerCad and Scratch are great tools, but will require minilessons with 2nd grade students 


    Please scroll down to see student samples! 


    Sample writing piece  and art from a second grader: 


    Video from Makey Makey:  



    Pictures of the insect life cycle: 





    BrushNinja/PixilArt student example.


    TinkerCad Sample Caterpillar


    TinkerCad Example Hawk Hummingbird Moth (will have to do a mini lesson on grouping before 3D printing)