Tuesday, April 27, 2010

DIY Science @ Home - Pill Bugs

Don’t just leave science to the science teacher. It’s DIY Science @ Home. You probably already do things that are “science-related” without ever mentioning the word "science."  Okay, not probably...you already do science related things everyday. It’s time to let the kids in on the secret…..it’s science. Get them interested young and it will only help them later on in school. I’m going to start a new post series of Science @ Home, because afterall, I was once a science teacher. I know, it’s even hard for my kids to believe. We’ll keep things easy though, pretty basic.  Very basic.

Today we’re going to build homes for pill bugs. So grab your 2x6, paint swatches, and tools and let’s build a home!

Online Background Resources: (because I'm not going to give you all the info, but I'll show you where to get some)
Enchanted Learning Diagram and Info
PestWorld Info
Pill Bug Info and Collection
10 Cool Facts
Info and Habitat Making

A Few Key Facts:
· Pill bugs are not actually bugs or insects. They are isopods. They are the only crustaceans that live fulltime on the land. (They’re related to shrimp and crayfish.)
· Pill bugs can roll into a ball and sow bugs don’t. Pill bugs are also called Roly-Polies.

Materials to Create a Habitat for Pill bugs:
· A container with small air holes (we used a baby wipe container).
· Dirt, Rocks, Leaves, Twigs
· Wet strips of newspaper or paper towel. Keep the environment moist, but not wet.
· A piece of crushed chalk (provides calcium for their shells).
· Potato, carrot, or apple slices for food.

1) Collect pill bugs from a moist area, such as under rocks, logs or leaf piles.
2) Put pill bugs into the habitat you made.
3) Observe their behavior.
4) Release the pill bugs when you’re done with them, unless you want to try and keep them longer.

Observations: (Some questions to ask the kiddos, you can come up with your own)
1) Do you know what a crustacean is? Can you name a few?
2) Does the pill bug like dark or light? How do you know?
3) What happens when you touch or pick up the pill bug? Why?
4) Can the pill bugs climb? How do you know?
5) How do you think they grow?
6) How do you think they move?
7) How do you think they are different from a ladybug?
8)  Can you draw a picture of a pill bug?

So easy!  Pill bugs are harmless and not scary to touch.  Really, go ahead and touch them.  And remember....they're not insects. 

What habitat making have you done?  Any pill bug catching in your future?  I'd love to hear about it.  Enjoy!



  1. This looks like such a great project for my kiddos - they will just love this. And I had no idea they were not bugs! Thanks for sharing the great idea.


  2. This is so neat. My youngest is always bringing me pill bugs and we wondered why some roll up and some don't. Didn't realize sow bugs were a whole different creature.

    Very enjoyable post - I shared it with my kids.



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