The science curriculum required our classrooms to look after a pet. Not being an animal lover, I wasn't too impressed with this but in the pursuit of knowledge I knew it had to be done.
My colleague informed me that there was a Nature Centre that 'rented out' animals for classrooms. I was keen to have a little turtle (one of the few animals that I can bear to touch) but Sharon did all of the groundwork so she got to have first pick out of our options: tortoise, leaf insects, frogs.
I chose the leaf insects thinking that they would be little 'sticky' creatures that would be easy to handle. When we went to pick them up, they turned out to be massive!!!
There were two males (skinnier and more like stick insects - but with long wings which meant they could fly!!) and two females. Pictured is one of the females...huge big fat juicy things!!!
I asked the lady from the Nature Centre if they had any smaller leaf insects and she explained that these ones were getting close to the end of their lives and were therefore fully grown. She paused for a moment and then told me not to be concerned if they died during our 3 week rental period!! Oh...excellent...so do I just bury them if they do? Oh no, she replied...bring them back to us because we use them in kits.
Needless to say, in the 2nd week I found one of the females on the floor of the aquarium one morning. I dug through the 'making box' to find a small coffin-like box and then we had a class discussion about death due to old age.
3 days before I was due to return them, one of the males died. I figured that I would wait to see if the kids noticed before we had to do the 'death talk' again. They didn't notice (the males are boring and way more comouflaged) so I was pleased with that.
I was so relieved to return these insects. Every second day I had to remove them from the aquarium to change the leaves (their food source) whch meant handling them. I would wear rubber gloves and always enlist another teacher or parent to help me.
The first time I had to take one out so the kids could have a close look and a hold I was nervous, sweating and shaking but I explained to my 5 year old students that I needed to be confident and they awarded me with a confidence key at the end of the lesson.
These are the names that the kids chose for the 4 insects: Chewie, Stella, Spike and ......get this.....Super Carrot.