Author: David L. Harrison
Illustrator: Julie Bayless
Target Ages: 4 - 10
Genre: Poetry Collection
Welcome hummers, diggers, leapers, and creepers to Crawly School for Bugs! Meet your classmates and teachers, and get ready to learn all the important buggy lessons, such as
The danger of welcome mats
How to avoid birds
And the best way to bug humans
Watch out for the school nurse (she loves to draw blood), and please try not to eat any fellow classmates!
“Tick Lesson: The Problem with People”
Teacher says it’s not a rumor,
people have no sense of humor.
She says they hate it when we bite,
hide our heads and dig in tight.
She says they’re good with evil squeezers,
quick to grab us with their tweezers.
She says if someone yells, “I gottom!”
prepare to have a painful bottom.
“It pays to hide,”
our teacher said.
“Change your color,
something else instead.
Sit so still
One kid went
without a trace
but we can’t
This playful collection envisions life through the perspective of insects attending school. Children will connect to the natural and imaginative worlds as they read these poems.
Some of the poems are on lessons the bugs need in relation to humans. For instance, “Cricket Lessons: How to be Annoying in 4 Easy Steps,” provides instructions for driving people crazy at night! The process is broken into 4 lyrical stanzas, each part with an illustration. The humorous and all too realistic steps including hiding, waiting, chirping, and doing it again! In “Today’s Lesson in Grasshopper Class,” the grasshoppers do not understand how humans can eat them—and in so many different ways (creamed, roasted, sautéed). The grasshoppers look with horror at a recipe book . The final line adds a twist of irony: “It’s fine to eat/the farmer’s crop/but eating US/has got to stop!!”
Sometimes the bugs learn lessons about themselves. In “My Life as a Lightening Bug,” the speaker feels like the butt of others’ jokes as they call him “dim bulb,” “winky,” and similar names. The only time he feels appreciated is when the lights go out. An illustration shows another bug following him and trying to read a book. In “Stink Bug Class” everyone is wondering about the “awful” and “unlawful” smell. Even the stink bugs do not realize they are the source of it until everyone is pointing at them. Finally, “Private Thoughts of a Praying Mantis in the Lunchroom” reveals the daily struggle to resist his natural tendency to eat other bug (i.e. his classmates).
In addition, the insects take classes in survival, such as “Camouflage Class,” “What We Learn in Bird Class,” and “Hiding from Spiders: Run, Don’t Count!” Each poem teaches the students in an amusing way how to avoid predators. The illustrations add humor. For instance, as they learn how to avoid birds and study a flip chart with one on it, there is a bird shadow right above them. To avoid looking at the spider, they walk by with books on top of their heads.
Crawly School for Bugs is an entertaining and creative collection of poems full of whimsical illustrations, lively language, catchy rhythmic patterns, witty situations, and imagination aplenty. The collection can be enjoyed for an engaging read-a-loud session or as a springboard for other lessons and extension activities.
Activities and Extension Ideas for Lesson Plans:
- Science: This book connects well to a study of insects. Incorporate the poems into an insect unit or use the book as a springboard to learn more about insect.
- Sound devices: Connect with a lesson on rhyme or alliteration. “What’s Left of Termite Class” is especially well suited for a lesson about alliteration, and “Tick Lesson” is perfect for a rhyming one.
- Poetry: Pick an insect. Write a poem from its perspective.
- Fact vs. Fiction: Children learn facts about the various insects through the poems. However, through the literary elements of hyperbole and personification, there are also fictional elements as well. Together, distinguish fact from fiction in one or more poems.
- Writing: Using “Cricket Lessons: How to be Annoying in 4 Easy Steps” as the inspiration, teach students how to write a simple process paragraph. Then, instruct students to write one on a creative or funny topic of their choice.
- Social Studies: Discuss what quality or qualities makes each bug special. Connect that idea to how each person has his/her own special qualities that make him/her special.
Visit No Water River for the Poetry Friday link up.
Visit Susanna Hill for Perfect Picture Book Friday.
If you are a teacher, parent, or poetry lover, you can win a copy of Crawly School for Bugs: Poems to Drive You Buggy. U.S. residents only.