Games, contests and tricks add spice to the entomology project. Those used in other activities can often be adapted for entomology use. Other state project books may include representative games, contests or diversions. Playlets can be for entertainment or to express some idea for later discussion. Pantomime or charade performances can also be used in this way. The following is an example of a playlet for 4-H'ers to modify and build on.
Man: Look at all the bugs crawling, hopping and flying
around here. I'll bet they blew over from the Smiths' yard.
The wind is strong enough today.
Cindy: What kind of bugs are they Daddy?
Man: I don't know exactly. All I know is that I hate 'em.
Fred: Those going from blossom to blossom are honeybees. Those in a colony on that stem are aphids. Some ladybird beetles are eating some of them. There are some leaf beetles, and...
Man (interrupting Fred): Never mind all that. Let's get rid of them. If you want to look at bugs, go over to Smith's garden. As far as I'm concerned there are only two kinds of bugs, live ones and dead ones. And dead ones are the best kind
Cindy: How are you going to make them dead, Daddy?
Man: Well there are too many just to stomp on, so I guess we'll poison them.
Man: Let's see. Didn't Mom have some bug spray left over when she sprayed her lilacs a couple of years ago?
Cindy: Oh yes, it's under the sink in the kitchen. I was playing with it yesterday.
Fred: Is that what's in that jug? The label was all smudged and hard to read. Cindy, you shouldn't have been playing with that. Besides its pretty old, and it should be...
Man: Fred, don't be such a fuss-budget. Anyway, we're going to use it all up today.
Cindy: Should I get the hand sprayer Mom used?
Man: OK. No wait a minute. That will be too slow for this job. Mom has a spray attachment for her vacuum cleaner. We'll use that.
Fred: You better read the "Cautions" on the insecticide label before you do anything.
Man: Are you trying to throw a monkey wrench in the works to get out of helping us'? If that stuff is so dangerous they wouldn't be allowed to sell it to the public. In fact, I'm going to make a big strong batch of the stuff and kill those bugs once and for all.
Cindy: What are you going to mix it in?
Man: We'll need something big. The pickle crock is about the right size. We can wash it out good when we're done. Well, let's get everything together.
Act II is left for your club members to write. But before you do Act II, discuss all the things you saw in Act I that were wrong. Fred expects some problems and dangers with the spray program as it is. Can you help him solve the problems when you write Act II. Modify the script or subject of Act I any way you would like.
This is good for learning the identity of common insects. The leader should collect 25 or more common insects and label them with a common name. Allow the 4-H'ers time to study the collection for a while. For the contest replace the common name labels with number tags. Have each member number a sheet of paper and write the name of each insect after the number that corresponds with the insect's tag number. If each insect is put in an individual box, the insects can be distributed to the group and passed from one member to the next until everyone has seen all the quiz insects. This will solve the problem of the group crowding around a collection trying to see it at the same time. Reward the person who identifies the most insects with a small prize or some other sort of recognition.
Quizzes can be more fun if they are made into games like TV game shows. For instance, a series of dashes, where each dash represents a letter in an insect name, can be written on a blackboard. Players take turns guessing letters in the name. Each time a letter that appears in the name is guessed, the letter is placed above the appropriate dash or dashes on the blackboard. The person guessing a correct letter gets one point. At some point, enough letters will be filled in so that a player is ready to guess the insect's name. If the guess is correct, 10 points are awarded. If the guess is wrong, the guesser is eliminated from further guessing until the next game.
"Bug Baseball" is a team game that requires a set of file cards prepared with quiz questions. The pitcher of one team selects a card from the stack and asks the question of the person at bat on the other team. If the at-bat person answers correctly he/she has a hit and advances to first base. If the person can't answer or answers incorrectly, the pitcher attempts to answer. If the pitcher also misses the question, the batter has a strike against the pitcher. The game proceeds according to the general rules of baseball. An umpire, who has a list of all the questions with correct answers, rules on whether questions are answered satisfactorily or not.
Flash cards prepared by pasting insect pictures on file cards can be used in various ways to train or quiz members in insect identification. Flash cards can be used in lieu of written questions, for instance, in the "Bug Baseball" game.
Certain kinds of puzzles also develop or reinforce learning. The following are available from the State 4-H Entomologist. "Elmer Fudd's Garden" is a word-search puzzle that includes quiz questions. "Riddle Bug Hunt" is a set of 29 riddles. It can be used at meetings as a quiz or as an insect list for a collecting contest during a collection field trip.