Are you looking for a simple nature study to do with your children? Sometimes we moms think we have to dream up something elaborate in order to teach our children something of value or to help them enjoy learning, but that’s really not necessary! This simple but fun nature study on dragonflies is sure to help your children enjoy learning about something they’ve probably seen before but haven’t really taken the time to study. So whether you’re looking for some fun summer learning or a quick-and-easy nature study to help you ease back into the school year, we think this dragonfly nature study is just what you need!
A great way to start your nature study on dragonflies is to simply observe them. This may happen spontaneously, or it can happen by seeking out areas where they will be plentiful such as ponds or streams in mid summer. As you observe, use a sheet of paper or nature journal pages to note the following:
- Where did you see the dragonfly?
- What time of day?
- How much time does it spend flying as opposed to lighting on something?
- Does it fly smoothly or in little “darting” movements?
- Where does it light most often?
- What kinds of coloring or markings do you see?
- Do you notice anything else about its behavior or movements?
- What else do you notice?
This dragonfly photo was captured as it was basking in the sun on our deck. We had the chance to observe it for a while. It was happy perching there and wasn’t going to move any time soon, regardless of us being there.
I absolutely love the lighting in this photo. And from an artist’s perspective it makes me inspired for a project that emphasizes light such as stained glass or a sun catcher. Another dragonfly art project could be a mosaic for the garden as decor or even jewelry creation. You can see a tutorial on Zentangle Dragonfly Art by clicking here.
I recall the way this dragonfly moved was very robotic. It seemed more like a space creature close up than an animal, and it brought about an interesting conversation between my daughter and me. Even the sounds the dragonfly made were more mechanical than biological. Your observations may guide the study. Perhaps an interesting science fiction story might come out of your insect study, rather than science. Allow your child’s interests to guide the study to a degree.
I think this dragonfly was most likely a Great Blue Skimmer, even though not blue in the body, because the color can vary and it was the eyes and wings that sold me on the idea. (If you can clarify that for me please leave a comment below.)
Topics of Study on Dragonflies
Not sure what to have your child research? Here is a list to help you get started. You might have your child research one or all of them. How he or she records or retells what was found might depend on your child’s learning style and development/age. You might require middle school and high schoolers to write a mini research report, keep a journal, or give an organized oral presentation to the family or homeschool co-op. For a younger child, reading books together or independently and then asking him/her comprehension questions on the material might be a good place to start. Notebooking is a great alternative to worksheets and is a helpful tool for elementary and beyond.
- life cycle and life span of a dragonfly
- identification (taxonomy) with a field guide
- common species
- behavior: diet and mating habits
- habitat/preferred environment
You might like to have a look at the poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson, The Dragon-Fly (1833):
Today I saw the dragon-fly
Come from the wells where he did lie.
An inner impulse rent the veil
Of his old husk: from head to tail
Came out clear plates of sapphire mail.
He dried his wings: like gauze they grew;
Thro’ crofts and pastures wet with dew
A living flash of light he flew.
There is a wonderful opportunity here for memorization or even copywork for younger children and some analysis and grammar for older children.
Book List for All Ages
- Dragonflies of North America: A Color and Learn Book with Activities
- Are you A Dragonfly? Backyard Books
- Dragonflies: Catching- Identifying- How and Where They Live
- Stokes Beginner’s Guide to Dragonflies
- Dragonflies: Magnificent Creatures of Water, Air, and Land
- Creative Haven Entangled Dragonflies Coloring Book (Adult Coloring)
- Dragonflies & Damselflies: A Folding Pocket Guide to Familiar Widespread, North American Species (A Pocket Naturalist Guide)