Saturday, 9 March 2013

Growing crickets in the classroom

Teachers will realise it would be great to grow some insects to allow the students to experience some living things going through their life cycle.
Silk worms are the classic example, but unfortunately they hatch just when the mulberry leaves are sprouting, so its hard to get food even if you have a tree handy. By the way, you can buy silk worm food in powdered form, just don't start on one kind of food and switch to the other.
Stick insects look great, but I found they can be fussy to keep.
Any how, here is another insect that is readily available and easy to keep:


Here's a view of their home  through the lid. You can see the food and water gel in plastic lids and the toilet rolls for them to hide in.

Here's the side on view

 Crickets are available from the pet store as food for reptiles. They come in a chinese food type containers- move them to a bigger box ( like a storage box) with air ventilation such as a square cut out of the lide and covered in flyscreen mesh. Use old egg cartons or empty toilet rolls to give places to hide.
To keep them you need ;
Food- ground up dry dog food- process it in a pepper mill or morter and pestle. Add teaspoons when the food is used up. You can use a plastic jar lid as a food bowl. Also add a bit of carrot (or carrot peel) for feed and water.
Water; soak water crystals such as you buy to keep plants hydrated. Give a teaspoon every second day - they will drown in open water.
Eventually, your crickets will want to lay eggs. They will need a chinese food container which has moist peat moss in it.( Just soak according to instructions.) You will see the eggs as little white dots. Remove the peat moss container and put into a separate  container with food and water crystals, or they'll get eaten by the adults!
Crickets need to be at about 28 degrees celcius to grow, so this is a good summer activity. You may be able to place them on a warm area such as the top of a fridge or hot water tank to prolong their life.  If you're really keen, you'll need a heat mat, and thermostat again available from a pet store.

Here the babies have been moved to their own container.

Eggs take about 2 weeks to hatch into tiny pepper grain sized crickets. You can buy small, medium and large crickets. Large cricket will be really to lay eggs when purchased.
PS- They make a lovely cricket chirp all day, to make you think you are in an outdoor class room!!

Australian Curriculum:


        develop knowledge of the Natural Environment through understanding about the Physical World, Earth and Space, and Living World
Early Stage 1 outcome
A student:
Stage 1 outcomes
A student:
Stage 2 outcomes
A student:
Stage 3 outcomes
A student:
identifies the basic needs of living things
describes external features, changes in and growth of living things
describes ways that different places in the environment provide for the needs of living things
describes that living things have life cycles, can be distinguished from non-living things and grouped, based on their observable features
describes ways that science knowledge helps people understand the effect of their actions on the environment and on the survival of living things
describes how structural features and other adaptations of living things help them to survive in their environment
describes some physical conditions of the environment and how these affect the growth and survival of living things

Old syllabus:

Stage One:
 • all living things are different.
 • living things grow, reproduce, move, need air, take in nutrients and eliminate wastes.
• the senses are used to receive messages from all around.

 Stage Two:
• plants and animals live in environments that supply their needs.
• change occurs throughout the lifetime of living things.
• living things depend on other living things to survive.

  Stage Three
• living things show variation within a species.
• the activities of people can change the balance of nature.
• groups of living things have changed over long periods of time.


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