Three Body Parts


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Students discover which characteristics make insects different from all other animals. Learn that there are more insects than any other kind of animal on Earth. Watch the ways that special body parts help insects meet their needs for food, water, air, and shelter.

Discover which characteristics make insects different from all other animals.

  1. Students will understand that with almost one million types, insects are the largest group of animals in the world.
  2. Students will know that all insect bodies have three segments: head, thorax and abdomen, and know their functions.
    1. Head: An insect's head has a mouth, antennae, and a pair of compound eyes.
    2. Thorax: The thorax is the middle section of an insect's body on which the three pairs of legs are attached. If the insect has wings (one set or two sets), they are present on the thorax.
    3. Abdomen: The abdomen contains the organs that digest food and lay eggs.
  3. Students will identify other insect body parts and understand how they function.
    1. Compound Eye: A compound eye is made up of many little eyes. Each smaller eye sees a small piece of the world. When all the pieces are put together, a very complete picture of what is around the insect is seen. Compound eyes allow an insect to see everything around them perfectly.
    2. Antennae: Antennae are long slender pairs of sensory organs. Insects use them to smell and hear and feel vibrations.
    3. Exoskeleton: The exoskeleton is the hard outer covering that protects the organs of an insect; it also maintains the insect's shape. The exoskeleton does not grow along with the insect, so the insect must shed the old one and develop a larger exoskeleton as it becomes a fully-grown adult.
  4. Students will describe insect metamorphosis: Most insects begin their lives as an egg. The egg then hatches and produces a larva. As a larva, the organism eats and gets bigger until it turns into a pupa, which may be inside a cocoon or a chrysalis. After a time, the pupa breaks open and out comes the adult insect. Almost all insects experience metamorphosis.
  5. Students will understand that, like all animals, insects have basic needs.
    1. Air: Insects need air to breath.
    2. Food and Water: Insects need food to eat (nectar, plants, garbage, even other insects) and water to drink.
    3. Shelter: Insects need shelter for protection from the environment.
    4. Transportation: Insects need to be able to move from place to place in order to find food and shelter. Some insects fly, some crawl, some jump, and some insects even glide on water.
  6. Students will notice that insects use different mechanisms to avoid being eaten. Some insects use camouflage to blend in with their environment. Other insects taste bad and/or are poisonous; they use color to warn other animals not to eat them.
  7. Students will realize that insects are not "true" bugs. Bugs have tube-shaped mouths with which they use to drink their food.
  8. Students will understand that insects have positive and negative effects on people. Some insects, like bees that make honey and silkworms that produce silk for clothing, are helpful. Other insects, like mosquitoes that bite people and moths that eat clothing, are harmful.

  1. Build an Insect: Use clay (body), pipe cleaners (legs), wax paper (wings), and toothpicks (hold clay together) to make insects. Each child can make any insects he/she wants, as long as it has the required three body parts and six legs. Encourage students to name their creations, and use other art supplies for unique features.
  2. Classify: Using construction paper and magazine cutouts, have students classify insects. Draw a line on the construction paper. Label one side insect and the other side not insect. Draw of paste in pictures accordingly. Have students remind you and each other what makes an insect.
  3. Sing "Are You or Are You Not an Insect" Words by Colleen Jackson. Are you or are you not an insect An insect has three body parts, six legs Are you or are you not an insect With an abdomen, a thorax, and a head An insect has three body parts, six legs — (repeat)

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