Fireflies

It’s summertime and school’s out!  That’s good news and not-so-good news.  As any teacher will tell you, children who don’t do some reading, writing and arithmetic during the summer break, will start the next school year needing to brush up on some things they knew before the break.  That’s the not-so-good news.  The good news is summertime is so full of possibilities for fun and engaging lessons, the kids won’t even know they are doing “school things”!  So, during these lazy crazy days of summer, take the classroom outdoors and let the learning continue!

One of things my boys and I always awaited was that first little flicker of light in the backyard.  The return of the fireflies is almost magical!  The kids loved to catch them and put them in a jar, and I just loved the way they decorated the night.  It turns out that those little flashes of light aren’t just random, and they don’t use AAA batteries.  Did you know that the firefly is a member of the beetle family?  Do you know how their bioluminescence (light) is produced?  Did you know that some firefly eggs actually glow too?  How about a mini lesson series on fireflies?  You could incorporate research, writing, keeping a log of sightings, literature and of course, art.  There are many websites that have good information and activities such as the Earth Matters site. CLICK HERE to view the website.

This site I found explains how fireflies talk to each other in the way they “blink” their lights.  Another thing I found so interesting on this firefly.org site is that the larvae usually live for one to two years, but the adults only live about three to four weeks. They can be found on all continents except Antarctica.  Their light is produced by a chemical reaction inside their bodies, and learning about that process has been helpful both scientifically and medically. CLICK HERE to read more.

What can you do to attract fireflies to your backyard?  How about planting a firefly friendly garden?  This next site tells you how.  It also says not to kill the slimy things in your yard like slugs, grubs and worms because that is what the larvae eat.  Dim your lights so they won’t get confused.  And lastly, don’t “jar” them!  I know that one will be hard to enforce, but maybe after your children learn more about fireflies, they will understand why. CLICK HERE for all the details.

Now about the art!  If you have any of those plastic Easter eggs left over, you and your kids can make the cutest fireflies.  Just place a flameless LED tealight into the plastic egg. Poke some holes through the egg with a thumbtack to insert pipe cleaners for the antennae and the six legs.  White reinforcements make great eyes or you could use googly eyes or markers.  You can make the wings out of shiny paper or silver duct tape.  When the sun sets, turn on the tealight and watch the magic.  There is a cute art activity geared for K-3 on the Teaching With Heart site that looks fun.  There are even free printables with the patterns. CLICK HERE to find them.

I’ve just touched on all the possibilities of some summer lessons about fireflies.  Enjoy!

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