Patterns in Nature

Looking for Similarities and Differences

Patterns exist everywhere in nature. Early on we learn to recognize them, and they help us make sense of the world. It starts simply – noticing that night follows day, plants have leaves, animals move, and winter snows change to spring rains.

This recognition of repeating events and reoccurring structures and shapes naturally leads to our organizing and grouping things together and inspires us to look more closely. We recognize that insects are animals with six legs, the seeds of evergreen trees are contained in cones, and birds build nests every spring. Careful observation of similarities and differences within groups helps us further classify both living and non-living things. Snowflakes are all six-sided crystals, yet they can be sorted into categories by growth pattern and specific design. Insects, like butterflies, beetles, and grasshoppers, can be separated into easily recognizable orders based on their shared traits. And, while all leaves share a similar function, they can be differentiated by shape and venation patterns. Continue reading Patterns in Nature

Patterns in Nature Table of Contents

Patterns in Nature – Resourcesbooklet, bibliographies, etc. (password needed)

Patterns in Nature – Vocabulary for Children

Patterns in Nature – Vocabulary for Children

abdomen  The body section behind the thorax; the back end of an insect or spider.

altricial  Baby birds that are helpless and featherless when they hatch and depend upon their parents for food and warmth for several weeks.

amphibians  A group of animals with moist skin including frogs, toads and salamanders, that live part of their lives in water breathing with gills, and part on land breathing with lungs. Continue reading Patterns in Nature – Vocabulary for Children

All Sorts of Insects – Background

The world is full of all sorts of insects. You can find them everywhere you go, whether swimming in a pond, weeding your garden, playing on the playground, or enjoying a picnic lunch. It is said that there are 200,000,000 insects for every person on earth. Scientists have identified more than a million different kinds of insects. And they think there are millions more species still waiting to be discovered.

Insects belong to a group called arthropods. Unlike you and me, with our bony internal skeletons, an arthropod’s body is covered with a tough outer shell, or exoskeleton. This exoskeleton is divided into segments that allow the critter to move. In fact, the word arthropod means “jointed legs.” Arthropods include not only insects, but also centipedes, crustaceans, and arachnids like spiders, ticks, and mites. Continue reading All Sorts of Insects – Background

All Sorts of Insects – Activities

FOCUS: Honeybees, grasshoppers, and butterflies are all insects, yet they look and behave very differently from each other. So what makes an insect an insect, and how is it different from other animals? Insects all share the same basic design of three body parts, six legs, wings, antennae, and compound eyes. Variations in the size and shape of these parts account for their great diversity. We’ll learn to recognize common groups of insects by their characteristic features and watch them as they go about their daily lives.

Objective: To begin to explore and ask questions about insects.

Give a variety of adult insects in jars to children to examine in small groups, and ask what they notice and wonder about them.

Materials: a variety of live adult insects collected in clear jars with lids, magnifying lenses.

Objective: To construct and compare felt insect models and identify common features and differences in insect anatomy.

Ahead of time, create bags of insect parts using the five Build an Insect templates and a variety of craft materials. In every bag use the same material to represent Continue reading All Sorts of Insects – Activities

All Sorts of Insects – Puppet Show

Toad Gets Bugged

Characters:  Teddy Toad, Shirley Spider, Davy Dragonfly, Bombardier Beetle, Giant Water Bug.

Teddy Toad  I’ve worked up quite an appetite in the garden today and a nice insect would taste great. (tapping sound) Is that the pitter patter of little buggy feet I hear? Who’s that walking down my garden path?

Shirley Spider  It’s me, Shirley Spider. Let me pass!

Toad  Afraid not! I’m ready for an insect snack and a crunchy bug like you would be perfect. Continue reading All Sorts of Insects – Puppet Show

All Sorts of Insects – Standards


The activities in this unit help children understand the basic concepts in the Disciplinary Core Ideas listed here. You can use the following list as a guide for lesson planning. These Disciplinary Core Ideas are taken from Grade Band Endpoints in A Framework for K-12 Science Education. Additionally, our activities give children opportunities to engage in many of the Science and Engineering Practices and reflect on the Crosscutting Concepts as identified in the Next Generation Science Standards. Continue reading All Sorts of Insects – Standards

Leaves – Background


Leaves are all around us. They are a welcome sign of spring, brightening the landscape with fresh green. They give us shade in summer and color fields and hillsides emerald. Every fall they dazzle us with their fiery display of color. Leaves come in a variety of shapes and sizes, yet a close-up look reveals patterns that help us identify them. Despite differences in form, all leaves perform the same vital function – capturing sunlight and turning it into food for the plant. Continue reading Leaves – Background