Who needs a slug?

Who needs a slug? was the question this week at a program I gave at the public library. The children, ages 6-10, carefully picked through habitat-like containers I had compiled the day before from my yard. For some reason slugs were scarce this week, but there were plenty of roly-polies (isopods), millipedes, earthworms, and I even managed to catch a few centipedes—for viewing only as these animals can give a painful bite. With magnifiers in hand, the children made both life-size and diagram-size drawings in a science notebook made from a folded sheet of paper. There were a few die-hards who had to be reluctantly parted from their invertebrate companions.
A wonderful book about the lives of insects for those of you who enjoy a conversational read and want to know “what are they up to?” is Broadsides from the Other Orders: A Book of Bugs by Sue Hubbell (Mariner Books, 1998).
I also enjoyed reading an amusing and eye-opening article about entomophagy (insects as food) in Science News (June 7th, 2008; Vol.173 #18). Apparently insects are full of wonderful protein and minerals! One of the experts, Patrick B. Durst, a senior forestry officer with the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s regional office in Bangkok, suggested that removing the heads makes insects more appealing and entomophagy advocate David Gracer says they are no more disgusting than shrimp. How many times do you have to offer a new food to children before they will try it?

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1 Response to Who needs a slug?

  1. Peggy Ashbrook says:

    There is a wonderful article about isopods in the March 2014 issue of Science and Children:
    The Amazing Ecology of Terrestrial Isopods by Christopher Dobson and Dan Postema.
    The third grade students carry out experiments and they make observations over time as they care for these small animals.

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