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.



Alternate Unit 2

2nd Grade

Unit Summary

In this unit, students learn about insects and the impact insects have on the natural world. 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. 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. 

When discussing the texts, students continue to focus on following agreed-upon rules for discussions and sharing their ideas with partners, small groups, and the whole class. Previously, students focused on clarifying and sharing their thoughts during a discussion, and in this unit, students work on engaging with the thinking of others by building on others’ talk. Students practice linking their comments to the remarks of others and asking and answering questions to clarify understanding or gather more information.

Students continue to build writing fluency by writing daily in response to the Target Task question. Students learn how to use frequently occurring conjunctions as a way of including stronger, more nuanced answers to questions. Additionally, students build their informational writing skills by participating in two shared research projects. Students learn how to conduct research, how to brainstorm and outline paragraphs, and how to include facts, definitions, and text features to support a point.

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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

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

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

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

Before you teach this unit, unpack the texts, themes, and core standards through our guided intellectual preparation process. Each Unit Launch includes a series of short videos, targeted readings, and opportunities for action planning to ensure you're prepared to support every student.

Essential Questions

  • What impact do insects have on the natural world?

Reading Focus Areas

  • To understand details in an informational text, readers think about how details are connected.

  • Text features help the reader clarify their understanding about a particular idea or topic.

Writing Focus Areas

Informational Writing

  • Participate in shared research and writing projects.

  • Introduce the topic.

  • Use facts, definitions, and text features to support a point.

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.



abdomen adult antennae aphid arthropod characteristics cocoon compound eyes colony egg emerge exoskeleton fertile hatch hive host honeycomb larva metamorphosis mouthparts molt nectar nymph parasite pest pollination pollinate pollen pupa scavenger solitary social thorax venom wing bud



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

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.

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)

Lesson Map

Common Core Standards

Core Standards


Supporting Standards

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Unit 1

Cinderella Around the World


Unit 3

Belonging and Friendship: Pinky and Rex

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