Dinosaur Train: Make a Dragonfly
Help students learn some basic insect anatomy by creating a model of a dragonfly. Students also learn that some animals they can see in the world today also lived at the time of the dinosaurs.
Related Episode: 111 "Don's Dragonfly" and others
Subjects: Science, Art
Students build a dragonfly while learning about its anatomy and origins.
- Photographs of real dragonflies, from books or Internet
- Construction paper – pre-cut into a small quarter-sized circle (1 per child)
- 2 Wooden ice-pop sticks or wooden tongue depressors (2 per child)
- Strong tape (such as Duct Tape)
- Pipe cleaners (6 per child); 2 pipe cleaners cut in 1/3s
- Colored markers
- White glue (or glitter glue)
- Small googly eyes (optional)
- Stick-on "jewels" (optional)
Related Video Clips
Dinosaur Discoveries: Dragonflies (1 minute) and Don's Dragonfly (47 seconds)
- PREPARATION: Complete a dragonfly per instructions below, to have a model to show students before they make their own.
- Ask students if they’ve ever seen a dragonfly. If so, what did it look like? Show them photographs (or video) of dragonflies from books or the Internet. Have them look at these pictures to describe a dragonfly in detail. How many wings does it have? What color(s) are they? How many legs? Does it have antennae? If so, how many? Explain that dragonflies are insects, and that all insects have six legs and two antennae.
- Show video clips from "Don's Dragonfly," as well as Dr. Scott's live-action segment on dragonflies.
- Show students the completed dragonfly project, and explain that they will get to make their own. Explain that, like all insects, a dragonfly’s body is divided into three parts: the head, the thorax, and the abdomen. Point out these parts using the model you prepared. The head is obvious, the thorax part of the body below the head to which the wings and legs are attached, and the abdomen is the "tail-like" thing below the thorax (the 2nd ice-pop stick).
- Make the Head. Give each child a small construction paper circle. Have them create two eyes by gluing on googly eyes, or drawing eyes with a marker.
- Make the Thorax. First, glue the completed head onto the top of a wooden ice-pop stick. Then have students decorate the rest of the stick with colored markers. Then make the four wings by bending 4 pipe cleaners into elongated loops. Use strong tape to attach the two wings to each side of the thorax. Then have students use the six 1/3 pipe-cleaner pieces to create legs. Next, have them bend little “feet” at the ends of these legs, and attach 3 legs to each side of the “thorax” on the opposite side of the stick that has the 4 wings.
- Make the Abdomen. Decorate the second ice-pop stick with markers, glue and glitter, and stick-on "jewels." Then use strong tape (or glue) to attach this ice-pop stick below the "thorax" one.
- Dragonflies are just one of many types of animals around today that were also around on Earth during the time of the dinosaurs. Older children can create a book or computer slideshow of other "Other Animals That Lived in the Age of Dinosaurs." Some animals they might include are cockroaches, fish, sharks, crocodiles, frogs, salamanders, and small furry mammals.
- When dragonflies are very young, they look quite different than their adult version. As nymphs, living in fresh water, they don’t have wings, of course. Help children find a nature video on the Internet that shows the dragonflies’ life cycle. Then children can write their own short play of the “Life Cycle of a Dragonfly,” creating fun costume wings for the final stage.