Praying Mantis Egg Case Observation a return to our study of the praying mantis

Through most of the Fall we were lucky enough to be able to observe a praying mantis, Lucy, in our classroom. All of the books we read told us that she would die when the weather got colder. Even though we had discussed her lifespan, our friends were still pretty sad when she died. Our hearts were made happier though by the discovery of two praying mantis egg cases on a bush outside! We did some research as a class and learned that if we let the egg cases hatch in November, the baby mantises would not survive over the Winter. We decided to freeze the egg cases so the babies would stay dormant until warmer Spring weather was here.

For five months the eggs have been safe in my freezer. Finally this week, I announced at meeting that it was time to take the egg cases out and prepare for them to hatch. The kids are SO excited about the prospect of seeing baby praying mantises. Since everyone wanted a chance to see the egg cases, I put both of them out at meeting so each child could take a turn observing them.

Some friends wondered what the egg case smelled like. Others tried to see if they could hear anything inside. Everyone got a very close look with a magnifying glass and took note of its physical appearance. The conversation we had surrounding our observations and our questions was so involved, I started documenting our friends' good thinking in a web.

After observing our egg case, I put it out on the table during free choice with magnifying glasses. Many friends used their free choice time to explore the egg case further and even sketch what it looked like.

One of our praying mantis egg cases.
Inaya, Emilia, and Naisha sketch the egg case while they continue to make observations about it.

Emilia even took her learning a step further. After she finished sketching the egg case, she went over to our praying mantis books and grabbed a few for reference. Then, she drew an egg hatching with nymphs coming out of it. "How can I write nymphs?" she asked me. After that, she drew an adult praying mantis on a third piece of paper. "What do you call this one?" she asked. I helped her label both of her pictures with the appropriate titles. "Look! I made the whole life of a praying mantis!" she beamed.

Emilia assembled her work into a mobile and made sure her pictures were hanging in order. At meeting, she shared her work with us and our friends were very impressed! They asked her questions about her thinking gave her lots of positive feedback.

This led to a great discussion about the praying mantis life cycle. Although I still hear many kids mention that they wish Lucy hadn't died, we also agreed that we have been very lucky this year to observe the entire life cycle of a praying mantis. "These baby nymphs will grow up and be big like Lucy!" Aiden pointed out.

Our friends gathered to watch a video an egg case hatching (video link below).

The egg cases generally take 4-6 weeks to hatch, so we have a few weeks to wait patiently. The kids are very concerned about the babies eating each other if they are left in the same container for too long. "They eat bugs!" Ethan reminded us. "They can't eat their brothers! EW!" David laughed. We've also learned that each egg case can have anywhere from 50-100 mantises inside! As a class, we've decided that once the egg cases hatch, we will keep a couple nymphs in separate containers in our classroom for observation. The rest will be released on our playground, since we can't possibly care for 200 baby praying mantises at once!

Stay tuned for more mantis mania as we continue to observe our egg cases and learn about these insects!

Created By
Randilyn Bowling


Created with images by sharyrong - "vigilant"

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