Looking for Life Cycles (Grades 3-5) 

This activity encourages children to become citizen scientists by setting up a ‘study site’ in the park or yard.

A black and on a rock, surrounded by several leaves
Many insects love warm weather. You might find an ant in your study site.

This time of year we may notice insects flying by, munching on a leaf or sipping nectar from a flower. What we may not realize is all these different looking insects are one stage in an insect life cycle!

Can you find all the stages of a ladybug life cycle?  A butterfly?  What about an ant?  

A scientists who studies insects are called an entomologist. When entomologists want to study insects, they pick certain areas and make a “study site.” You can do with a hula hoop or a long piece of string.

What You Need

  • Paper
  • Pen or pencil
  • Hula hoop or 6 foot length of string or yarn

What To Do

  1. Scientists study one area and then estimate how many insects are in a larger area based on their sample site.  Find an area in your backyard and using a hula hoop (or a circle of string), lay the hula hoop down on the ground.  Now try to count all the insects you can find within your circle.
  2. Do you see a grasshopper?  Count it before it hops away!  An ant? You might see more than one — be sure to count them all as best as you can. When you are done with that sample, site move the hula hoop to a different part of the yard and count again.  Look for a site that is different from your first one (for example, if your first site was shady, look for a sunny site).
  3. Make a data sheet so you can track the number of each type of insect you see each time you place the hula hoop. Were the insects in your first study site the same, or different?