Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Creatures in the Classroom!

My classroom was very busy today with many visitors--none of them human!

As I was doing attendance this morning, I realized that the robins are building a nest outside my window. This is my first year in the room and I have to admit that I was reluctant to move...but now that I know that there are robins, I'm thrilled to be here. Hopefully they won't be too disturbed by our classroom activity and they will continue to build. It would be the perfect opportunity for students to learn about the growth of baby birds! (And I happened to read a great blog post about this yesterday...)

Then, as students began to arrive, one student brought me a butter container with holes in the top. Veteran teacher know what this means--butter containers seem to be the creature transport containers of choice! What was inside? A beautiful Polyphemus moth. Of course, this changed our Morning Meeting a bit, as we looked at information about the Polyphemus moth and followed the excellent links from this great website. Kids were fascinated to learn that the adult Polyphemus moth has no mouthparts! We learned that our moth is a male, because it has such long, feathery antennae.

To make room for the moth, I had to juggle around some other creatures, including our tadpoles. Notice how they still have their external gills. Safe in their plastic container, they got to spend the day on the table, very convenient for viewing and enjoying. Students drew pictures of them throughout the day and made a gallery of beautiful artwork on the closet door.

At the end of the day, we were going to set the moth free. In the transfer process, it escaped. Should have seen that one coming! But I must say that the classroom is much improved by the flapping of a huge moth. The kids took it very calmly, even though it was during our chaotic afternoon dismissal time. Luckily, it landed on my fluency data binder, where I was able to capture it once again in the butter container.

What a day! Springtime in fourth grade is always adventurous. Oh, and somewhere in the middle of all of this we took a science test, learned about the landforms of the Midwest, practiced spelling words, wrote summaries, and took a simulated trip to Mexico City to learn about elapsed time.


  1. Hi Emily,

    As always, this a very motivating blog.

    See my the reply to your comment on my blog.

  2. Hi Emily,
    I am working on a project, you might be able to help. If you want to find out more please contact me. My email is

  3. I was surprised to see the polyphemous moth picture. We hatched one this spring from a caterpillar that a student brought in last fall. We researched it and found out it would only live 5 days and didn't eat during that time. My students had to vote on whether to turn it loose to find a mate, or observe it for 5 days. They chose to release it with no prompting from me. One of my students said, "Boy, I sure wouldn't like to be a moth. You'd have a pretty short bucket list!" Two days later we hatched a hummingbird moth that our bus driver had brought in last fall. We were pretty tickled at our 100% moth crop. I have been devouring your blog posts, taking notes, printing copies...Thank you for sharing so much wisdom! Karen from NE

  4. We had a similar situation with a buckeye butterfly last fall...just like in your classroom, the kids voted to let it go. I'm amazed that you were able to hatch the hummingbird moth! Have you ever tried overwintering a woolly bear? The kids always want to, but I've never given in, even though I'm curious to see if it would work. :)