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Elementary    |    Lesson Plans

Why Do Fireflies Light Up?

By Rita Januszyk and Alison Haas

Why Do Fireflies Light Up?

Life Science NGSS Elementary Grade 4

Sensemaking Checklist

Unit Overview

This featured Grade 4 life and physical science unit launches with a phenomenon of the backyard and the woods with sparks of light. In this ten-lesson sequence,  students as scientists make observations of fireflies in the backyard and the woods. Students ask questions and find the driving question, Why do fireflies light up? Students obtain information about firefly internal and external structures. Students develop a Firefly Model of firefly structures and their functions to describe the cause and effect of the firefly lighting up structure. The model is a predictive tool for thinking. Students investigate the function of sight and explain how people and other animals can see an object. They develop a model: How We Can See an Object to show what causes an object is seen is that light reflected off an object enters the eye. They obtain information about the predator-prey relationships with fireflies. Students interpret data from investigations about bats and how bats use their sensory system to avoid eating fireflies. Finally, students revise their final Firefly Model and explain the answer to the driving question, What do fireflies light up? Fireflies light up to find a mate and warn predators to stay away.

Summative assessment (artifact): Students develop a Firefly Model and construct an explanation to answer the driving question: Why do fireflies light up?


Why Do Fireflies Light Up? Grade 4 Life Science Unit was developed by:

  • Rita Januszyk and Alison Haas (unit writers)
  • Kathy Renfrew for the science notebook lesson inspiration
  • Grade 4 science teachers and students at Avery Coonley School, Downers Grove, Illinois
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