AKB: Roly Polys – The Land Shrimp of the Forest

AKB: Animal Kingdom Book

Slowly, though sometimes somewhat unsteadily, we’ve been working through this Animal Kingdom Book project. What have we done so far, let’s see, Cnidaria, Worms, Mollusks, Echinoderms, and now we are on Arthropods. The author of our biology book has split the study of arthropods into three smaller groups: insects, arachnids, and crustaceans. The insects will have to wait until spring – I cannot with good conscience raise little butterflies now and let them out into below freezing temperatures. That’s just butterfly cruelty. And arachnids? Sick. We got those over as fast as possible. But crustaceans? That sounded like something we would need to go to the Aquarium for.

And we will, don’t you worry. It’s already on the calendar.

But actually, there is a little non-bug buggy thing found all around our house that is technically a crustacean.

The Roly Poly. The Pill Bug. The Potato Bug.

Or, as the bio book author points out, the Isopod.

It’s like a big land shrimp.

You know what, though? That actually makes me think of them as less cute. (Kind of like my reaction to learning about sea stars! *shiver*)

Since it is dead of winter, there weren’t any roly polys outside to be found so we couldn’t dig some up, keep them in a little container, and observe them for awhile like the book suggested.

That takes a two week mini unit down to about one day.

But we did find some fun YouTube videos. (I feel like this is becoming a regular pattern here. Though I’m not complaining. I know when the weather gets warmer and the kids are running barefoot on the grass and dirt again, they’ll find these little potato bugs and tell me some random fact that they learned. Or more likely, they’ll say, “Hey, Mom! Remember that video we watched?” So although the learning isn’t as hands on as I would like, they will still remember and they are still learning. That’s what I tell myself.

I mean, now that you know roly polys are more related to lobsters, crabs, and shrimp than to actual insects, do you think you’ll forget that anytime soon?

(The real question might actually be, do you think you will ever need to know that anytime ever. And the answer is no. But you are smarter! And that is worth something.)

We also wrote little Roly Poly poems in the form of cinquains. My kids thought this was a dumb activity. Therefore, they half heartedly wrote their poems (or in some cases, refused to do it at all) and then promptly just threw them away.

You know what? It was kind of an add activity for a biology lesson. But it was in the bio book and I thought they might like it.


Anyway, here is my poem.

land crustacean

armored, multi-legged

creeping, stalking, waiting

hiding amongst the trees

potato bug

And here is one I remember my dad telling me when I was a little girl. Not any less sinister, but I have fond memories of corralling up as many little critters as I could to show my dad just so he could recite the poem to me again. (I’m sure he got plenty tired of it, too.)

It was a dark and stormy night.

The moon was dipped in blood.

Around the corner murder lay:

A dead potato bug.

The other child who thought a little roly poly art would be fun and worth her time was, surprise surprise, my 3rd grader.

She was just as proud of her cute creation as I am of my recent one. So proud, in fact, that I decided it was best not to bring up the correct way to spell “Roly Poly.” You just don’t want to wipe out cute smiles that like.