Engage Students with Creepy Crawly Hands-on Science

Launching your lessons with a hands-on activity is a great way to get kids re-engaged in your classroom after Spring Break!

Our most popular items for your students’ return are bugs and critters. Kids of all ages love exploring the world of creepy crawly bugs. Explore metamorphosis! Or teach about the critters’ roles in the ecosystem. Gather a variety of critters and host a bug show.

If you prefer to not have live critters, consider life cycle models for a hands-on, but not creepy-crawly, way to explore the life cycle of insects.

Caterpillars and butterflies.

We also provide classroom and individual student kits

Ants.

Harvester ants are HUGE and easy to observe. Keep them contained in a habitat.

Ladybugs.

Don’t forget a habitat!

Mealworms.

We also provide a growing kit with food, burlap, mealworms, pupae, and beetles; as well as an experiment kit to explore the mealworms’ sensitivity to light.

Praying Mantid egg case and habitat or individual egg case.

Pill Bugs.

These harmless roly poly bugs are a great choice for those of us who might be a tad bit squeamish about other bugs.

Snails: land and pond


Earthworms

Crayfish

Water Fleas

Crickets

Desert Millipede

Redworms

Hydra

Milkweed bugs and eggs

Planaria

Silkworms

Tenebrio Beetles

Vinegar Eels

Drosophila Fruit Flies

Brine Shrimp.

Shh, here’s a secret: Sea-Monkeys are actually brine shrimp.

 

What are your students’ favorite critters to explore?

Butterfly Student Kit Review


The Butterfly Student Kit from Heath Scientific comes with a butterfly habitat, guide, dropper, and coupon for live caterpillars. The caterpillars and their food are mailed directly to you, any time of year. The product comes with a guarantee that at least 3 of the 5 caterpillars will turn into butterflies.

The Science

Watching the metamorphosis process is fascinating as butterflies go through four distinct stages of life. Learn the butterfly’s life cycle by observing it firsthand.

Reviews

This product tends to get high and enthusiastic reviews.

One reviewer described how her children would rush to see the progress of the caterpillars every morning and would call “Hey, Mom, come look at this!” Soon, she found herself rushing to the caterpillars and calling, “Kids, come look!” also.

A 5th grade teacher reviewing this kit said it helps her students really remember the metamorphosis stages to see it firsthand.

Easiest pet ever

Simple care.

No messes to clean up.

No feeding: caterpillars come with enough food.

If the butterflies emerge when it’s above 55 degrees outside, you can let them go in the wild. If not, they live for 2-4 weeks and eat sugar water.

For All Ages

Children of all ages–and even adults!–enjoy this butterfly kit. It’s a favorite gift for elementary-aged children, particularly the 5-7 year-old age range, but children as young as 2 thoroughly enjoy the butterfly kit. (Of course, always be careful with young children. Small parts can pose a choking hazard.)

Adults reviewing the product frequently mention how they themselves were, surprisingly, captivated by watching the metamorphosis.

 

Silkworm Life Cycle

Known for the silk thread they produce to form their cocoons, the silkworm is the larvae stage for the Bombyx mori moth. As an insect that undergoes complete metamorphosis, it has 4 stages of development.

Eggs

The eggs are very tiny and are usually laid near the end of summer or early fall. They remain dormant until spring or when warmth stimulates a spring season environment. It takes the eggs about two weeks to hatch after they are activated.

If you want to store Silkworm eggs, be sure to put them in a fridge right away (don’t freeze them). Keep them near the warmer part of the refrigerator.

Larvae (Silkworm)

silkwormsNewly hatched silkworms are small (1/8 inch), hairy, and eat tender mulberry leaves. The hair gets shed when they go through their first of five growth stages called instars.

You can tell an silkworm is about cross an instar stage because it will hold its head up in the air. Its important to not touch or disturb the silk worm as its transitioning between instar stages. It will then shed its outer layer of skin. After each instar the silkworm is able to eat tougher mulberry leaves and will be bigger.

After 5 instar stages, the Silkworm will encase itself with a silk cocoon.

Pupa (Cocoon)

Silkworm cocoonSilkworm cocoons will be shades of white, cream, and yellow. They will have a glistening shine because of the silk they are made from.

After 2 weeks, the silkworm releases an enzyme from its head that dissolves the silk. It then emerges as an adult moth.

Adult (Moth)

Adult: Bombyx Mori mothSilkworm moths (Bombyx mori) do not eat or drink. They crawl around but do not fly. Females have a larger abdomen and are not very active. Males have much larger antennae and will vibrate its wings rapidly as it seeks a female.

After reproduction, the male moth dies. The female will lay eggs within 24 hours and die shortly thereafter.

Interesting Silkworm facts

Due to hundreds of years of domestication (providing abundant food and pampering them), Bombyx mori (silkworms) do not crawl away in the pupa stage and can’t fly in the adult stage.

Silk is harvested by killing the pupa (by heating or pricking with a needle) and then unwinding the thread of silk, which can be half a mile long.

The entire life cycle only takes a couple months.

The Bombyx mori silkworms were originally domesticated in China where the secret to producing silk was closely guarded for centuries but was leaked around 200 BC and eventually was also produced in India and Europe.

Silkworm pupae are a delicacy eaten in China.

Where you can buy Silkworm Supplies

Silkworm food

25 live silk worms

25 silk worm eggs

Silkworm life cycle model

Where you can learn more about Silkworms

Detailed life cycle

History and general information

Another step-by-step life cycle

Life Cycle of a Butterfly

Emerging monarchThe butterflies’ cycle of life is very different from the rest of nature. The butterfly’s lifecycle has four stages; which include Egg, Larva (caterpillar), Pupa (cocoon), and Adult. Butterflies are important to nature because they are an agent of pollination. This means they pollinate flowers, which happens when pollen grains are transferred from the male to the female part of the flower.

Egg

Butterfly eggs consist of a hard outer shell; the outer shell has wax on the inside to prevent it from getting too dry. These eggs are usually affixed to a plant leaf with glue that quickly hardens. The egg stage lasts for a few weeks.

Caterpillar

During the larva stage the caterpillar consumes plant leaves, finding and consuming the plant leaves is how the caterpillar spends most of its time. Many caterpillars have markings on their rear end that look like eyes. This along with ability to produce chemicals that smell or are toxic offers defense from birds and other predators.

Pupa

This is the stage in which the caterpillar searches for a desirable location in which to turn itself from larva into a pupa (cocoon). The caterpillar will attach itself to a branch or limb and molt for the last time. Metamorphosis takes place and a butterfly emerges at the end of this cycle.

Adult Butterfly

Adult Butterflies are not able to fly until their wings gain blood circulation and completely unfold; this usually takes 1-3 hours depending on the type of butterfly. Without a net or other type of protection they are very vulnerable while waiting for their wings to function. The adult is known as the imago, as an adult the butterfly gains the ability to reproduce. The adult butterfly has 4 wings and 6 legs.

Learning Activity for Children

Butterflies are fascinating for children because of their beauty and the simple fact that they fly. Rarely can a book teach a child the stages of a butterfly’s life cycle better than simply experiencing it. Raising butterflies through their life cycle is a fun educational activity for children. To successfully raise butterflies through their life cycle, you will need:

  • Painted Lady Caterpillars with food.
  • Vials and lids
  • And a two foot hanging butterfly net

Where you can get Butterfly Supplies

Heath Scientific provides these supplies along with complete instructions in a Live Butterfly Classroom Kit . Though designed for the classroom, it is a great activity for parents and children of all ages.
Other butterfly supplies are: