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Friday, November 9, 2012

Insect Hotels, Potato Peelers, and Spy Cameras?

Collecting materials
Children are scampering about collecting materials along the edge of the field for an Insect Hotel. Arms and backpacks are overflowing with dried grasses, pieces of bark, handfuls of soil, sticks, leaves, and stones.
"I see something red for the hotel! It's a stick! Insects would like that in their hotel. Oh, it's a living a tree. Can we pick some Amy?"
The students have found a large stand of redosier dogwood. They are fascinated by the color and the flashing of red on a bleak November day. I explain it would be okay for us to take a small sample since there is so much. I cut a branch and divide it amongst them. They know this is special and they carefully slide their red stick into their pockets.
The collection and wandering continues for an hour. Many discoveries are made by these scavenging 1st and 2nd graders. A dead poplar tree being visited by woodpeckers, balsam pitch that makes your fingers stick together, and the "AH - Tree" that when it's buds are crushed smells spicy and good.

We haven't even started building yet! And what is an insect hotel anyways?

Insect Hotels are heavy
Many 1st and 2nd graders in Vermont study insects as part of their science curriculum. Within the medium of science students also wrote, sketched, read, and sang all about insects. Lets not forget about math as well! On this ECO day students from Moretown Elementary and East Montpelier Elementary Schools are building winter homes for their insect friends.
Where do insects live? What do insects need in order to survive?  Where do insects go in the winter? Do they hibernate or do they die? By creating a cylinder out of chicken wire students fill the hotel with their collected materials. Through the process of actively building many of these questions get answered and empathy for these small and amazing living creatures deepens.
Students were also guided in safely using potato peelers to whittle green elderberry branches. Safety is taught in small groups and the privilege of using such a new tool is taken seriously by the children. Children become immediately focused on whittling windows and spy cameras for their insects. Their is a comfortable hum of busyness while new motor skills are being practiced. It's peaceful and purposeful. Another hour passes of child led learning and inquiry.

Peeling safely

Soon the hotels are opened for business and a tour begins as each group describes their creations. Hotels with roofs, elevators, porches, 4 floors, dining rooms, windows, beds and indoor pools! Where would you like the stay tonight? How about an Insect Hotel!

A future architect

Open for business!


  1. It is a good way to teach students.Students can learn more rapidly by involving in the environment.Keep up sharing such nice posts.Spy cams