Inquisitive Insects

Lesson adapted from Art Makes U Smart


Students will learn the basic parts of an insect. They will answer a questionnaire and use their answers to determine what shape, color, or number of variable attributes their insect will have. Students will also gain experience with folding, bending, and curling art-making materials.


NGSS: LS1.A: Structure and Function
All organisms have external parts. Different animals use their body parts in different ways to see, hear, grasp objects, protect themselves, move from place to place, and seek, find, and take in food, water and air.

Make art or design with various materials and tools to explore personal interests, questions, and curiosity.

VA: Cr3.1.2a
Discuss and reflect with peers about choices made in creating artwork.


  1. Ask students to close their eyes and visualize an insect. Ask them to think about the different parts that make up the insect they are imagining. Ask students to share out some ideas with the whole class.
  2. Show a basic image of an insect to the class. Point out the main parts such as the head, thorax, abdomen, wings, legs, eyes, antenna, etc. This is also a great time to introduce exoskeletons. Optional: Have students label the parts of an insect in their science notebooks.
  3. Show a few more images of insects to the class. Talk about the similarities and differences between these insects. Students might notice things like the different number of wings, legs, leg shapes, body shapes, antenna shape and size, etc. Relate the differences in the insects you've shown them to the differences between humans. Point out a few differences between humans such as eye and hair color, height, age, number of teeth, things they like to learn, and other various experiences. Explain to students they will be creating art that represents things that make them unique.


Step 01

Hand out the questionnaire (see last page of lesson) to students, and guide them through the questions, explaining that their answers to the questions will help determine what their insect looks like.

Step 02

After students have answered the questions, hand out a piece of printmaking paper or colored tagboard and direct students to use a pencil to draw/create the head, thorax and abdomen as they go through the attributes that correspond with their answers to the questionnaire.

Step 03

Steps 3-8 (Student artwork will vary)

Head shape: students will draw a square, triangle or circle depending on their answers.

Step 04

Thorax shape: students will draw a horizontal or vertical oval depending on their answers.

Step 05

Thorax design: students will draw straight lines or wavy lines depending on their answers.

Step 06

Abdomen shape: students will draw a vertical rectangle or horizontal oval depending on their answers.

Step 07

Abdomen design: students will draw a certain number of a certain shape depending on their answers.

Step 08

Number of eyes: students will draw a certain number of eyes depending on their answers.

Step 09

Step 9

Once the head, thorax, and abdomen have been drawn in pencil, have students use a dark colored marker to outline their pencil lines.

Step 10

Step 10

Have students color their insect however they'd like.

Step 11

Step 11

Explain that for the legs, antennas, and wings students will be gluing on various art-making materials. Have students gather three chenille stems that are the closest match to the flavor of ice cream they listed as their favorite. Allow students to experiment with how they’d like to bend their chenille stems to make an interesting leg shape (zig-zag, wavy, spiral, etc.). Using tacky glue, adhere the six legs to the sides of the insect body they colored previously. Have students place the leg with a dot of tacky glue on the chenille stem, and press it down on their paper for 30 seconds.

Step 12

Step 12

For insects wings, students will need to gather two, four, or six pieces of tissue paper depending on their answers. Students will either pinch the corner of their tissue paper, or accordion fold it, depending on their answers. Students then glue their wings to their insects however they’d like.

Step 13

Step 13

For the insect's antennas, students will need to gather two art straws in a color of their choice. Depending on their answers, students will make their antennas curly or fold them in a zig-zag. Have students glue their antennas onto their insects.

Step 14

Step 14

Finally, give students the freedom to add any facial features they’d like such as a nose, mouth, or tongue (proboscis). Using additional chenille stems, art straws, or construction paper will add interest.

Step 15

Have students mount their inquisitive insect on a piece of construction paper, and sign the backside.


Display artwork where everyone can see. Review the questions and which shapes and designs correspond to each. Have students guess which insect belongs to which student, and tell which attribute(s) helped them come to that conclusion, encouraging the use of vocabulary words.

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