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 Summary

As part of the upgrade to Fishtank Plus, this unit was revised in October 2020. See which texts and materials have changed as part of the revision in this guide to our 2nd Grade text adjustments.

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


This assessment accompanies this unit and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.

Unit Prep

Essential Questions


  • What impact do insects have on the natural world?

Insects have an important impact on the natural world. Although you might think insects are annoying, they are incredibly helpful! Many bees help the natural world by making it easier to grow crops. Bees pollinate flowers so they can spread seeds. Ants dig deep in the dirt which helps keep soil fertile, making it easier to grow crops. Other insects, called scavengers, help to keep the natural world clean. They eat things that other animals or insects do not want to eat, like dead or dying animals and insect droppings. Insects can also make things for people! Bees make honey that we eat. Silkworms help make a material called silk that we use to make clothing. However, sometimes insects can be harmful. Some insects, like mosquitoes, spread diseases and can make people sick. Other insects can ruin crops by eating them. Although some insects can be harmful, insects are an important part of the natural world and we should work to protect them.

Foundational Skills

Phonics and Word Recognition Focus Areas

  • Use known spelling-sound correspondences when reading one-syllable and two-syllable words.
  • Use known spelling-sound correspondences when reading multisyllabic words.
  • Recognize and read grade-appropriate irregularly spelled words.

The core texts in this unit include more multisyllabic words than in the previous unit. At this point, students should be able to fluidly identify known spelling-sound correspondences in one-syllable and two-syllable words; however, they may struggle to decode longer multisyllabic words. When prepping for a lesson and internalizing the text complexity of a particular text, we suggest identifying multisyllabic words that may be challenging for students, and using the Syllabication Routine at the beginning of the lesson.

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

  • Expand simple sentences using “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.

Informational Writing Focus Areas

  • Brainstorm and outline.
  • Distinguish topic sentences from supporting sentences.
  • Use facts and definitions to develop points.




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



To see all the vocabulary for this course, 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)

Lesson Map




Common Core Standards

Core Standards































Supporting Standards