This activity is something that I will remember for many years to come! It was so easy, but there was so much learning that came from it – for both the kids and myself. I love the animal unit in science and a lot of the expectations revolve around interaction with actual animals. I also love the idea of a class pet; however, since I am not in the classes full time, because I cover teacher preps, and do not have my own classroom this presents a challenge. I wanted to have students responsible for a pet though. This year, I choose mealworms. They are very low maintenance and inexpensive. They also serve the main purpose of showing students a metamorphosis. (Link for printable booklet at the bottom of the post.)
I am currently in the process of of this experiment! I got 5 containers from a local dollar store and placed the class into 5 groups. Each group has a small container with roughly 5-8 mealworms. On the bottom of each container we put oatmeal and we placed either a piece of apple or carrot into the container. On the very first day, students observed their mealworm and made observations about their new pet. The held, measured and weighed their mealworm and observed it with a magnifying glass. There was so much excitement in the classroom with this activity! Groups were excited to check on their mealworm every day when they entered the classroom. We also changed their food each day (or late Friday and early Monday over the weekend.) I’m definitely learning along with the kids on this one…and loving every minute of it!
I started to get a bit worried when the mealworms seemed to take longer to go into their pupa state then I expected, but sure enough, one by one they did. We did not hold the mealworms in this state because they are fragile, but we did observe them through magnifying glasses in the container. Finally, the beetles emerged! I had a container at home for my kids and was lucky enough to catch one of the mealworms molting on a Sunday night – and I got it on video!
The excitement when students discovered that there were beetles in their containers was a highlight of the year for me! To be honest, some students were less than thrilled that their cute mealworm was now a beetle, but either way, they watched the transformation and will, hopefully, remember it forever! I know I will.
Although this experiment was intended for my Grade 2 class, I did bring the mealworms into the kindergarten classes during prep. I figure the more that they are exposed to and get to experience, the better. With kindergarten, students got to hold, measure and weigh the mealworms as well. I will then bring them back for them to observe once they have completed their metamorphosis.
Click here to download an activity booklet: