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Iridescent Insects

Fascinated with animal feathers, scales, and shells that seem to change color when they move? Create your own naturally iridescent insect colors!

  • Grade 1
    Grade 2
    Grade 3
  • 30 to 60 minutes
  • Directions

    1. Ask students if they have ever noticed that some insects, birds, or fish seem to change color as they move. What is happening? What you see is the light hitting the surface and ultraviolet rays bouncing back from different angles. If the animal’s covering (scales, shells, or feathers) reflects light at several different angles, they are often iridescent.
    2. Encourage students to look for pictures of insects that have one main color, but seem to reflect different colors when they move. What are some of your favorite Iridescent Insects? Choose one that appeals to you.
    3. Invite students to use Crayola® Scissors to cut the insect’s shape out of construction paper that is the main color of the insect. Add six construction paper legs.
    4. Students glue insects to white paper with a Crayola Glue Stick.
    5. Students use a white Crayola Gel Marker to fill in areas where they see iridescent colors on their insects. Color over the marker with the appropriate color of Crayola Gel Markers.
    6. Use Crayola Glitter Glue to highlight iridescent areas. Air-dry flat before displaying.
  • Standards

    LA: Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.

    LA: Use information gained from illustrations (e.g., maps, photographs) and the words in a text to demonstrate understanding of the text.

    LA: Read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, in the grade level text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.

    LA: Participate in shared research and writing projects.

    LA: Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade level topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.

    SCI: Obtain information to describe the relationship between the needs of different plants and animals (including humans) and where they live on the land or in the water.

    SCI: Construct an explanation for how plants and animals (including humans) can change their environment while meeting their basic needs.

    SS: Use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools to generate, manipulate, and interpret information.

    VA: Use visual structures of art to communicate ideas.

    VA: Select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: Big Book of Bugs by DK Publishing; Simon & Schuster Children's Guide to Insects and Spiders by Jinny Johnson; Hello, Bugs! By Smriti Prasadam

    Organize a field trip for students to visit an insect zoo. Students make sketches of insects that have unusual markings or features, such as iridescence. After the trip, students document learning on a class blog.

    Invite students to investigate birds and tropical fish that are also examples of iridescence. Students prepare a talk for classmates to share their new knowledge.

    Bubbles are an interesting form that also are examples of iridescence. Students investigate bubbles and add paint to bubbles in order to print the bubbles as they pop. Are the bubbles colors still iridescent? Why or why not?

    Students explore how light and color are interrelated. What is color? How does reflection work?


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