Awesome Insects

Students learn about insects and their impact on the natural world by asking and answering questions about informational texts in order to become inquisitive, active readers.



Unit 2

2nd Grade

Unit Summary

In this unit, second graders learn about insects and the impact insects have on the natural world. Building on what students learned in Unit 1 about habitats, they will explore how different insects rely on their habitat for survival. Through this exploration, students will learn the unique characteristics of insects, how insects can be both beneficial and destructive, and the stages of an insect’s life cycle. By the end of the unit, students will have a deeper understanding of and appreciation for the beauty of the insect world.

This unit consists of predominantly shared reading experiences to help students practice different reading strategies and skills. Building on Unit 1, students will continue to be inquisitive, active consumers of texts by asking and answering questions, and they will continue to deepen their understanding of the role text features and illustrations play in helping a reader better understand the content of a text. Students will also begin to explore the connections between scientific ideas and concepts using cause-and-effect language and will continue to strengthen their habits of discussion as they debate and analyze key ideas of the unit.

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Texts and Materials

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Core Materials

  • Book: Insect Bodies by Bobbie Kalman and Molly Aloian (Crabtree Pub Co. 2005)   —  IG570L

  • Book: Insect Life Cycles by Bobbie Kalman and Molly Aloian (Crabtree Publishing Company, 2005)   —  NC760L

  • Book: Insectlopedia by Douglas Florian (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2002)

  • Book: Helpful and Harmful Insects by Bobbie Kalman and Molly Aloian (Crabtree Pub Co. 2005)   —  NC790L

  • Book: Ants by Melissa Stewart (National Geographic Kids, 2010)   —  470L

  • Book: Bees by Laura Marsh (National Geographic Kids, 2016)   —  530L

  • Assessment Text: “The Life Cycle of an Ant” by Hadley Dyer; Bobbie Kalman (Crabtree Pub Co)   —  NC870LL

  • Book: Ladybug (Grow With Me) by Kate Briggs (Creative Paperbacks)

Supporting Materials


These assessments accompany this unit and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.

Unit Prep

Intellectual Prep

Unit Launch

Prepare to teach this unit by immersing yourself in the texts, themes, and core standards. Unit Launches include a series of short videos, targeted readings, and opportunities for action planning.

Essential Questions

  • What impact do insects have on the natural world?

Foundational Skills

Fluency Focus Areas

  • Read with expression and volume to match interpretation of the passage.
  • Use proper intonation to show interpretation of the passage.
  • Reread in order to confirm or self-correct word recognition and understanding.

The main fluency focus of this unit is on reading an informational text with the right expression and intonation to show interpretation of the passage. This includes knowing how to read different text features to highlight the feature's purpose. This also includes rereading and self-correcting in order to figure out the meaning of domain-specific, multisyllabic, or tricky words.

Writing Focus Areas

Sentence-Level Focus Areas

  • Write simple and complex sentences
  • Use frequently occurring conjunctions “because,” “but,” and “so”

As students master complete sentences in Unit 1, we move on to expanding sentences to make them stronger. The focus in this unit is on writing complex sentences using the conjunctions "because," "but," and "so." Including conjunctions in their sentence-level writing not only makes sentences stronger and nuanced, but it encourages students to develop more specific and detailed points.

Paragraph-Level Focus Areas

  • Brainstorm using a Single Paragraph Outline

Students are introduced to the Single Paragraph Outline in this unit as a way to outline their paragraphs before writing. 

Informational Writing Focus Areas

  • Participate in shared research and writing projects 
  • Brainstorm and outline before writing
  • Introduce the topic 
  • Use facts, definitions, and text features to support a point 

Students participate in two shared research projects in this unit; one after learning about insect life cycles, and one at the end of the unit. The focus in both is on crafting strong topic sentences and text features to match their writing.

Speaking and Listening Focus Areas

  • Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions 
  • Build on others' talk in conversations by linking their comments to the remarks of others 
  • Ask and answer questions about what a speaker says in order to clarify comprehension, gather additional information or deepen understanding of a topic or issue. 

In this unit, students transition from focusing on clarifying and sharing their thoughts during a discussion to engaging with the thinking of others. Students learn how to build on others' talk in conversations and to ask questions. The focus areas and discourse in this unit align with Tier 2 of the three tiers of academic discourse and row 2 of the Academic Discourse Rubric (K-2). See the Teacher Tool on Tiers of Academic Discourse to help support students with the focus areas for this unit.



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To see all the vocabulary for Unit 2, view our 2nd Grade Vocabulary Glossary.

Content Knowledge and Connections

  • Explain ways that insects are helpful:
    • Pollination
    • Produce products like honey, beeswax, and silk
    • Eat harmful insects, dead or dying animals, or animal droppings
  • Explain ways that insects are harmful:
    • Destroy crops, trees, wooden buildings, and clothes
    • Carry diseases, bite, or sting.
  • Identify the distinguishing characteristics of insects:
    • Exoskeleton
    • Six legs
    • Three body parts: head, thorax, and abdomen
    • Compound eyes
    • Two antennae
    • Mouthparts on their head
    • Wings are not an insect characteristic; only some insects have wings.
  • Explain insect life cycles:
    • Complete (Four steps: egg, larva, pupa, adult)
    • Incomplete (Three steps: egg, nymph, adult)

Supporting All Students

In order to ensure that all students are able to access the texts and tasks in this unit, it is incredibly important to intellectually prepare to teach the unit prior to launching the unit. Use the intellectual preparation protocol and the Unit Launch to determine which support students will need. To learn more, visit the Supporting all Students teacher tool.

Lesson Map

Common Core Standards

Core Standards


Supporting Standards

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Unit 1

Exploring Habitats


Unit 3

Stories of Immigration