Daily Archives: May 11, 2009

Explaining Death to Young Students-Waterbugs and Dragonflies by Doris Stickney

Last week one of my students experienced the death of a family member. To support the child, after a discussion with the parent, I said I would choose some stories to read. After searching I decided to read this wonderful story. Many of the books were too explicit to use at the moment. The children discussed the story with every child’s thoughts valued. To some it was just a nice story. After speaking to the child the story was targeted to I was surprised that she understood the message. This is a really lovely story for young children and explaining death. I also used this to ‘ kick off’ thinking writing and have included some more examples of their writing. Please take the time to read the story. I’ve included a link to where you can purchase this book, as I believe every school should have a copy in their teacher resource library.

Waterbugs and Dragonflies

Down below the surface of a quiet pond lived a little colony of water bugs. They were a happy colony, living far away from the sun. For many months they were very busy, scurrying over the soft mud on the bottom of the pond. They did notice that every once in awhile one of their colony seemed to lose interest in going about. Clinging to the stem of a pond lily it gradually moved out of sight and was seen no more.

“Look!” said one of the water bugs to another. “One of our colony is climbing up the lily stalk. Where do you think she is going?” Up, up, up it slowly went….Even as they watched, the water bug disappeared from sight. Its friends waited and waited but it didn’t return…

“That’s funny!” said one water bug to another. “Wasn’t she happy here?” asked a second… “Where do you suppose she went?” wondered a third.

No one had an answer. They were greatly puzzled. Finally one of the water bugs, a leader in the colony, gathered its friends together. “I have an idea”. The next one of us who climbs up the lily stalk must promise to come back and tell us where he or she went and why.”

“We promise”, they said solemnly.

One spring day, not long after, the very water bug who had suggested the plan found himself climbing up the lily stalk. Up, up, up, he went. Before he knew what was happening, he had broke through the surface of the water and fallen onto the broad, green lily pad above.

When he awoke, he looked about with surprise. He couldn’t believe what he saw. A startling change had come to his old body. His movement revealed four silver wings and a long tail. Even as he struggled, he felt an impulse to move his wings…The warmth of the sun soon dried the moisture from the new body. He moved his wings again and suddenly found himself up above the water. He had become a dragonfly!!

Swooping and dipping in great curves, he flew through the air. He felt exhilarated in the new atmosphere. By and by the new dragonfly lighted happily on a lily pad to rest. Then it was that he chanced to look below to the bottom of the pond. Why, he was right above his old friends, the water bugs! There they were scurrying around, just as he had been doing some time before.

The dragonfly remembered the promise: “The next one of us who climbs up the lily stalk will come back and tell where he or she went and why.” Without thinking, the dragonfly darted down. Suddenly he hit the surface of the water and bounced away. Now that he was a dragonfly, he could no longer go into the water…

“I can’t return!” he said in dismay. “At least, I tried. But I can’t keep my promise. Even if I could go back, not one of the water bugs would know me in my new body. I guess I’ll just have to wait until they become dragonflies too. Then they’ll understand what has happened to me, and where I went.”

And the dragonfly winged off happily into its wonderful new world of sun and air…….

From: “Waterbugs and Dragonflies : Explaining Death to Young Children”
by Doris Stickney


Cheers Nina

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My Prep Report – Water Bugs and Dragonflies

Prep Report May 2009



Developing the concepts & skills needed to be a confident and capable learner is evident in our planning and classrooms. Promoting a ‘love of learning’ underpins all that we do.


The Early Years Program is the foundation of our classroom planning. Assessment is driving our teaching and learning with student’s needs being targeted. Strategies such as Guided Reading are being introduced along with shared Big Book reading, Modelled Reading, Round Robin reading and Independent Reading as part of the student’s daily program.

Comprehension – Reading for meaning is our constant driver with children being asked to retell events, ask questions, make statements about texts and respond to what they have read or have had read to them in a variety of ways i.e. creative – performance or visual arts, written etc… Differentiation is evident in our planning documents allowing children to be working in their learning zone.

Writing and developing a passion for writing is part of our daily classroom program. Children are given opportunities to write every day. Sounds are reviewed constantly with our program extending to blends, three letter words, common words and spelling rules to targeted students or as a planned teaching focus. Strategies are taught within the writing session through targeted groups or when responding to individual needs. The Early Years teaching strategies i.e. Shared Writing, Modelled Writing, Guided Writing, Interactive Writing and Independent Writing are developing or being introduced to our Prep students. Developing student’s letter formation (handwriting) is incorporated into our daily program.




 Our planning for this term is comprehensive, targeting initial concepts and understanding needed to extend learning. We are collecting and learning about data, the concept of chance, days of the week, number to 10/20 and beyond, exploring time, introducing addition and subtraction, and ordinal number. Oral counting and automatic response are incorporated into our daily program to develop thinking skills. The Early Years strategies are being introduced in our classroom i.e. planned focus and targeted groups ensuring that individual learning needs are met and children are learning in their zone.


Our Transdisciplinary Theme in our current inquiry is ‘Where we are in place and time’. Our central idea is ‘documenting personal histories allows us to reflect on and celebrate who we are and where we’ve come from alongside ‘we all have our own personal histories and traditions. The children are very engaged in this inquiry. Thank you to ……….. for coming in and speaking to our Prep students about history. This talk set the scene and the students have been busy discovering about themselves and others. This week the Preps are going on their first excursion to the Immigration Museum. Parent support has once again been wonderful.

In my last post I talked about the wonderful responses my preps wrote about the text Water Bugs and Dragonflies. I have included a number of samples in this post.

Cheers Nina

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