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Insect and Amphibian Life Cycles

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Lesson Title:

Comparing the Life Cycles of a Mealworm and a Tadpole

Curriculum Area:


Technology Strand:

Uses technology but does not address a technology strand

Grade Level:


Essential Question:

What are some similarities and differences between the life cycles of a frog and a beetle?

Activity Summary

This activity requires partners to review in pairs how their animals grew using pictures and their observation journals. Each pair will share their findings with another pair. One pair will share a mealworm’s growth and another, the tadpole’s. Afterwards we will discuss as a class the differences between the two life cycles. I will write their answers on the board. I will also have key words on the board to help them compare the two life cycles. The students will then go into the computer lab and transform our results into a Venn Diagram template provided.


1.01 Describe the life cycle of animals including:

  • Birth.
  • Developing into an adult.
  • Reproducing.
  • Aging and death.

1.04 Compare and contrast life cycles of other animals such as mealworms, ladybugs, crickets, guppies or frogs.


Uses technology but does not address a technology strand

Activating Strategies

At each table of four, 2 students will have beetle photos and 2 students will have frog photos (See files, Frog_Pics and Beetle_Pics). The photographs are stages of a tadpole and mealworm’s growth. They will be given a sheet that shows the cycle but leaves out where each animal should go (See files, Frog_Cycle.doc and Beetle_Cycle.doc). Each pair puts the photographs of the life cycle in order.

After they put their photos in order they have to find another group that also had their animal and make sure their pictures are in the right order. The two then take turns with their own group sharing the changes in their animal.

Students will regroup so that one pair who sorted the tadpole cycle will now be with a pair who sorted the mealworm cycle. Students share their animal with the other pair and vice versa. Each pair will say a sentence or two about each stage before moving on to the next. They will need to point out the changes that happen during each stage.

This will be done using Timed-Pair-Share (A Kagan Structure). During a timed pair share one pair will talk for a 25 seconds. When their time is up the other group will share for the same amount of time. This can go back and forth as many times as the teacher would like.

Technology Vocabulary: 

Detailed Technology Instructions:

Cognitive Teaching Strategies

** Prior to starting this lesson the children will have created journals where they recorded the weekly growth/changes of a tadpole and mealworm. The class of 16 was divided into groups of four. Within each group 2 children were paired together and were responsible for both a few tadpole and a few mealworms. In their journal they wrote and drew how their animal grew and what changes they observed. (See “Photos” in resources to view pictures of the student’s tadpoles and frog.)

After the activating strategy each pair will be given life cycle maps of a tadpole and another for the mealworm (See files, Frog_Cycle_Pics and Beetle_Cycle_Pics). On these the pictures of the animals are put into the cycle where they belong. Each pair will use these to compare the life cycles of a mealworm and tadpole. They can look at the different stages of the tadpole and mealworm in order.

On the board I will make a list of things they could compare. They will include but not be limited to:

number of stages
body changes
length of each stage
where these stages take place.

I will also draw a Venn Diagram with which everyone is very familiar. I will label both circles and review what kind of information will go into each. In pairs they will discuss what would go in each part of the Venn. The pairs will use the Rally Robin structure to discuss the stages. In a Rally Robin the pair talks back and forth. Each person shares one idea or answer and then it is their partners turn, back and forth. I will have them Rally Robin for 3-5 minutes. After that, I will write 3 columns on the board representing the characteristics of the beetle life cycle, frog life cycle and both. I will solicit possible answers for each column from a few students. I will write the answers in each column.

In the computer lab each pair will complete a Venn Diagram using Microsoft Word. Students will open the file, Venn_Diagram, from the Templates folder in Student Activities. The file will have text boxes for names, Frog Life Cycle, Beetle Life Cycle and Both. Students should enter at least 4 facts in each section of the Venn Diagram. They will be getting their answers from the discussion that we just had in the classroom. I will walk around and help any pairs that are having difficulties.

Summary Strategies

When the pair is finished I will print out their Venn Diagram. They can compare their completed Venn with the Venn from someone in another group using a Rally Robin or Timed Pair Share again. During the sharing students will identify one similarity and one difference from the two life cycles.

For directions on how to download files choose: Mac (Kid Pix or Microsoft  Works), Windows (Kid Pix or Microsoft Works or Office), or Mac/PC (AppleWorks).

Re-teaching and Enrichment Activities

As an enrichment activity we could go out and let the animals go in their natural habitat. We could also create pictures using kid pix of what that animal would look like in its natural environment. For children that are having trouble they can go back and look at the photographs and look at the changes the animal has undergone.

The concept for this lesson plan was submitted by

Alexis  Asher

 Allen Jay Elementary, Data last modified: 5/23/2005