Lesson Plan

Major Insect Orders Mini-Book

Grade Level:
Middle School: Sixth Grade through Eighth Grade
Lesson Duration:
90 Minutes
Common Core Standards:
6-8.RST.1, 8.SL.4, 8.SL.1, 6-8.WHST.2, 6-8.WHST.9, 6.EE.6, 6-8.RST.7
Additional Standards:
MS-LS4-2, MS-LS4-1


This activity familiarizes students with the six most populous orders of insects by producing Mini-Books with the name  of each order on a separate page, examples of common insects in that order, a picture, identifying characteristics, and an interesting fact.


There are more insects than any other organisms on Earth. Insects are in the Phylum Arthopoda, identified by their jointed legs, segmented bodies, and exoskeletons. All insects have these characteristics, but other characteristics further define Class Insecta: three pairs of jointed legs, bodies that have three segments, one pair of antennae, and usually two pairs of wings (some groups have one pair or none). ("What Is”, 2014)

This activity focuses on the six largest orders of insects, based on number of identified species in that order. The graph below includes information about each order including their identifying characteristics (Moisset, 2008; “Insect Orders”, 2014):

Order Name Common Name Identified Species Characteristics Characteristics Description
Coleoptera Beetles 400,000 "hard wing" Pair of hardened wings meet in the straight line down back
Lepidoptera Butterflies, moths 150,000 "scaly wings" Two pairs of large wings covered with small scales
Hymenoptera Bees, wasps, ants (only have wings at certain times during life cycle or not at all) 130,000 "membrane wings" Two paris of thin, clear membranous wings; front pair larger than rear
Diptera Flies, midges, mosquitoes 120,00 "two pairs of wings" although second pair is reduced in size One pair of wings; second pair is reduced in size and often not seen
Hemiptera True bugs, cicadas, aphids 82,000 "half wings" Triangle on back behind the head formed by the wings
Orthoptera Grasshoppers, crickets, katydids 20,500 "straight wings" Four wings, front ones thickened; jumping hind legs

Focus Questions:

What are identifying characteristics of an insect?
What are the different major orders of insects and how can you tell them apart?
Where do you find insects and how can you capture/photograph them?



Learning Target:

I can identify insects and the characteristics that place them in the six most common insect orders.


(10-15 minutes)

Project the image from the PowerPoint 1, “Classification 3: Major Insect Orders Mini- Book” that shows an insect from each of the six major insect orders. Ask students to make observations about the insects….How they are alike? How they are different? Guide students toward understanding that how they are alike answers the question: “What makes an insect an insect?” How they are different answers the question:  “What is the major characteristic of each order?”


30-60 minutes to review activity, collect materials, and make copies


Download Lesson Plan

Download PowerPoint 1

Lesson Hook/Preview

Insects play an important role in our lives and are the most common organisms on Earth. There are some insects that can harm you or damage crops, but the majority of insects are good for the environment. They help us to pollinate our plants, are an integral part of food webs, make products that we can use, and recycle wastes. They are easy to observe and catch in any type of environment. There are over thirty identified orders within the Class Insecta. This activity familiarizes students with the six most populous orders of insects by producing Mini-Books with the name of each order on a separate page, examples of common insects in that order, a picture, identifying characteristics, and an interesting fact.


(25-30 minutes)

Students will create Mini-Books highlighting the primary characteristics of the six major orders of insects.

  1. Each student needs a piece of computer paper and scissors to make their personal Mini-Book.
  2. Students will create a front cover including a title, their name, and colored picture. On the back cover students will make up a publishing company name, logo for the company name, location, and copyright date.
  3. On each of the six pages on the inside, students will add the name of the order, examples of common insects in that order, a picture, identifying characteristic, and an interesting fact. This information can be found in books, textbooks, or online. Coloring makes the Mini-Book more interesting and fun to read.

Directions for making a Mini-Book:

YouTube Video

Written Directions


characteristic; levels of classification: kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species

Assessment Materials

(15-20 minutes)

Students share their Mini-Books with others in the classroom and check books for completeness before turning into the teacher for a final grade.



(Up to 4 hours)

Students are challenged to find an example of an insect from each of the six most populous orders. Presentation of their insects could be through a traditional insect collection of mounted insects or another option is to take a picture of an insect from each order, which is less destructive to the environment.

Additional Resources

For a great resource for teaching students about insects and shows several methods of collecting insects, visit Purdue University's website for 4-H.


Gibb, Tim. "How to Make an Awesome Insect Collection | Purdue | Entomology | Insect | Collect | Supplies | Specimen | Mounting | Identifying | Displaying | Preserve | Labels." Purdue University, 2011. Web. 15 July 2014 <http://extension.entm.purdue.edu/401Book/default.php?page=home>

Moisset, Beatrix. "Overview of Orders of Insects." Welcome to BugGuide.Net! - BugGuide.Net. Iowa State University Entomology, 6 Sept. 2008. Web. 10 July 2014.<http://bugguide.net/node/view/222292>

Staff, Writer. "Insect Orders." Insect Orders. Insect Identification Org, 3 Apr. 2014. Web. 09 July 2014. <http://www.insectidentification.org/orders_insect.asp>

"What Good Are Bugs? - National Wildlife Federation." What Good Are Bugs? - National Wildlife Federation. National Wildlife Federation, n.d. Web. 09 July 2014.<http://www.nwf.org/Kids/Ranger-Rick/Animals/Insects-and-Arthropods/What-Good-Are- Bugs.aspx>

"What Is an Insect?" What Is an Insect? University of Kentucky, n.d. Web. 09 July 2014. <https://www.uky.edu/Ag/Entomology/ythfacts/4h/unit1/intro.htm>

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Last updated: January 10, 2018