'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

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Monday, 16 August 2010

Dung Beetles



When I am relieving for a teacher who is ill, one of my favourite days is to (with permission) disregard whatever the kids are usually doing, and spend the whole day studying Dung Beetles.  The kids enjoy ewwwing over the name in the introductory talk, but almost always get very interested, very rapidly, in this wonderful and useful species of insect.

I set up 10 or so different teaching stations around the room, covering topics like:

Dung Beetle lifecycle

Dung Beetles in Ancient Egypt (Scarab worship,  hieroglyphics,  lapis lazuli etc.)

Dung Beetle maths (a series of problems involving problems like distance of rolling dung-balls of a certain circumference, given a certain speed etc...)

Dung Beetle Art (colours, iridescence, blending colours and colour mixing, stone door-stop scarab painting etc.)

Dung Beetle physiology (name the parts, what use are the elytra, How can you tell a dung-beetle from other beetles etc.)

English essay: "Why are Dung Beetles so important?"  Or "Why I like/ don't like/am indifferent towards dung beetles"

Dung Beetles Interesting Facts Quiz (Do Dung Beetles have poo preferences?  Where are dung beetles found?   What do dung beetles do with all their dung? Are dung beetles good or bad parents? etc.)


At lunchtimes, I've often had to prise kids away from their projects and banish them outside to have their lunch.



  1. I can certainly understand why the children would be interested in Dung Beetles and your activities sound terrific. Bet you get asked back time and again!
    Thanks for visiting my blog. Nice to meet you!
    PS I love green too. By any chance is your favourite number 4 ?

  2. Most creative. This is how teaching used to be in England where gifted teachers would run with random interconnecting projects that often thrilled the children. Sadly, politicians stuck their big ugly oar in, took away the trust and created intricate prescriptions that nobody really understood. However, what I really want to know is who provides the dung when you are studying dung beetles? The school caretaker? The principal? The government?

  3. Welcome to TLVD Helen. And thank you. I don't really have a favourite number. Unless it's 144.

    Thank you for your compliment YP. We use metaphorical dung that we get from that creek.

  4. Like your pupils, I find this topic very interesting. BTW, I do like Dung Beetles & think they are very valuable and very necessary.

  5. Yes Meggie - it's a horrible job, but something's got to do it!