As presented, this activity fits
- Grade 2 - "Small Crawling and Flying Animals" unit
With modifications for topic and students' skill levels, this
activity would also fit
- Grade 1 - "Needs of Plants and Animals" (units #1, 6 and
- Grade 3 - "Animal Life Cycles" (units #4, 6 and 7)
- Grade 5 - "Wetlands" (units #2, 3 and 4)
Connection to other curriculum areas can be incorporated
- Math (measuring, calculations)
- Art (sketching viewpoints and by direct observation,
- Language arts (journals, reflection, poetry)
- Drama (skits, charades, role playing)
- Social studies (map reading, communities)
Students will observe a water strider to discover
- How it meets its basic needs
- Its relationship with other living and non-living things in the
- How it avoids predators
Late spring through to early fall
20 - 30 minutes
Review the concepts of interdependency, adaptations and
One pail and one magnifying glass per student or small group
Wetlands - slow moving or still water
- Water striders are usually present in large numbers in an area
so they are easy to spot.
- Have students look for water striders moving about on the
- If no water striders are seen within a few minutes, move the
group to another area.
- Have the students crouch down and watch the water
- Are the striders on the water surface or in the water? (Answer
- on the surface.)
- Can you see the water strider's shadow on the wetlands bottom?
If so, looking at the shadow, what seems to be at the ends of
the legs? (Answer - small bumps that may appear to be feet are
actually tiny dents in the film of the water surface.)
- Do any of the striders appear to be eating? What do you think
they eat? (Answer - small insects that either swim up to the
surface or fall into the water.)
- Ask your group to watch carefully (water striders move very
quickly) as you
- Pick up a tiny piece of DEAD material from the ground.
Drop it onto the water surface. How do the water striders
react? (Answer - the water striders detect the slightest water
movement through sensory organs in their legs. If the object is
small and light, the striders may approach it, thinking it is an
insect. If the object is heavier, they flee, fearing a
- Put your hand in the water and move it about. How do the
striders react? Large water ripples may mean a big predator is
- If there are striders close to the edge, move your arm above
them. How do they react to a possible threat from above? Do
they move away quickly or stay very still?
- Scoop up a water strider and some water in a pail. Have each
student use a magnifying glass to look for these physical
characteristics and special adaptations.
- Water striders are insects. Insects have three body
parts, six legs and a pair of antennae.
- Front legs are short - used for grasping prey.
- Middle legs are long - used for "rowing".
- Back legs are long - used for "steering".
- Middle and back legs can be used for quick jumps to catch
- Striders' claws are set up higher on their legs than other
insects. This is so the claws do not pierce the film of water
- All legs are covered with water resistant hairs. These
trap air to help the strider walk on the water surface.
- Wide spread legs distribute the strider's weight over a large
area. This also helps the strider walk on the water.
- If you are unable to catch one, discuss the above features as
students watch the striders moving around.
- RELEASE THE WATER STRIDER BACK to the wetlands.
- Discuss the relationship water striders have with other living
and non-living parts of their environment.
- Living: Water striders
- Eat small insects on the water surface.
- Are eaten by some species of larger insects, fish and water
- DO NOT bite people.
- Non-living: Water striders
- May burrow into mud or under stones during the winter or if the
water temporarily dries up
- May overwinter under fallen leaves on land near the water
- Cement their eggs onto floating objects just under the water