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Old Black Fly Unit Study

Updated on February 18, 2015

Old Black Fly's Been Buzzin' Around

Old Black Fly
Old Black Fly | Source

Old Black Fly Buzzes Around the Alphabet

Old Black Fly's been buzzing around and lands on an alphabet's worth of spilled drips and drops of food. This poem is fun to read aloud with it's lilting rhyme has makes you want to dance.

Use Old Black Fly to start a unit on insects that will inspire reading, writing and scientific experimentation.

Language Arts

Fly Family Reading - Old Black Fly's Favorite Fiction

The Bug Family
The Bug Family | Source

Books about Flies

Reading to children is essential to turning them into lifelong readers. Here are some great stories about flies. The story of Old Black Fly may be available at your Public Library or you may purchase it on Amazon along with many other wonderful fly related books.

Thank you to Naturegirl7 for the suggestion of Liza Lou And The Yeller Belly Swamp.

Old Black Fly Word Wall Pointer

Attach a fly to the end of a dowel. Use it as a pointer to point to the letters in the Word Wall Words that your are working on. Children love to pretend to be Old Black Fly and use the pointer to point to words and read them as they land on labels all around the room.

Non-Fiction Fly Books - Old Black Fly learns about House Flies

Hang the fish net over the reading nook to display books about flies. This net represents a spider's web.

Add some plush House Flies to represent Old Black Fly.

Though it is difficult to find non-fiction books written specifically about house flies, I keep a collection of books about insects and help the children find the pages with information about house flies.

Sometimes a Fly can change Someone's Whole Life - Amos: The Story of an Old Dog and His Couch

One day as the Old Irish Setter lazes his life away a fly comes along. When Amos swats at it suddenly his whole life is changed!

You won't believe how he suddenly can get around and how that changes the life of the whole family. All because of an old black fly.

This is by far one of my all-time favorite books. It will have you in tears it's so funny.

Old Black Flies' Alphabet

Make an alphabetical list of the items Aylesworth used in this book to represent each of the letters of the alphabet.

Apple pie,





frosting, and so forth.

Find pictures of each of the items. Glue them onto index cards. Write the name under each picture and laminate them.

1. Pick 5 cards.

2. Put them in ABC order.

3. Write the words on a paper.

Checkered Tablecloth

Red Checked Tablecloth
Red Checked Tablecloth | Source

Flies at the Picnic Picnic Table

Bulletin Board Fly Words

Cover a table with a Red and White Checked Tablecloth. Place a stack of fly themed words and a basket of plastic flies on the table. Children use the flies to spell out the fly words. For younger children make the word cards with letters large enough for the children to put the flies directly on the letters.

To turn this learning center into a bulletin board, Cover the bulletin board with a Red and White Checked Tablecloth. Attach picnic food and dishes and then use plastic flies to spell words such as:






Or whatever words you are studying with this Old Black Fly Unit Study.

Just change the word to FLIES!

Fly and Spider at the Picnic Video

There are no words with this video so it would be great for the kids to make up their own story and write it down.

Fly Word Family

The Word Family Activity Book includes activities for teaching words that rhyme with fly such as:





You could also make a bulletin board shaped like a sandwich and attach fly cutouts with the fly words on them. To practice these words check out the Cheers on my Word Wall Article.

Swat the Old Black Fly Word

1. On fly shaped accent papers write Old Black Fly vocabulary words.

2. Give 2 children a fly swatter.

3. Call out a word and have the children race to "swat" the word first.

4. The winner chooses a new person to be the swatter.

Fly Swatters can also be used in Read the Room.

Fly Swatter Card Game

Use fly swatters to spell the spelling words called out by your partner.

Spread out a chalkboard sized version of the alphabet or use the Keyboard Area Rug to take turns calling out spelling words.

Fly Swatter Card Game: Use your fly swatter to swat the letters that spell the word while pretending that the letters of the alphabet are flies buzzing around like Old Black Fly. One child mixes the fly cards above with the letter cards below and flips them onto the floor one card at a time. The child who has swatted the most letters before a fly card turns up is the winner.

Matamoscas: The Fly Swatter Word Game - Old Black Fly Game

Japanese Girl Swatting Fly
Japanese Girl Swatting Fly | Source

Swat the letters to spell the words

In this game two teams face off in a relay style running up to to the board to swat the word called out by the teacher and then passing the fly swatter on to the next team member.


1.Make this game easier by having the children swat the letters, numbers.

2. Swat the letters to spell the words.

3. Teacher calls out the definition, translation or antonym.

Flies in the Garbage Can - Old Black Fly Vocabulary Game

Use hot glue to glue felt wings to ping pong balls.

Write vocabulary words on the flies with a marker.

Set up a garbage can with the letter i on it.

Put the flies in the garbage can lid.

If the word has a long i as in Fly put it in the garbage. The rest of the flies go in the other garbage can.

Self checking:

Write the answers on a paper and stuff it into an old washed out container with a cover and leave it in the garbage can. Children can take out this container and check the flies.


The Life Cycle of the Common House Fly - The House Fly goes through four stages in it's life cycle.

Illustration by Debbie Hadley, using drawings from Insects - Their Ways and Means of Living by Robert Evans Snodgrass, U.S. Bureau of Entomology.
Illustration by Debbie Hadley, using drawings from Insects - Their Ways and Means of Living by Robert Evans Snodgrass, U.S. Bureau of Entomology. | Source

Life Cycle of the House Fly

Egg:Did you know that in three or four days a female house fly can lay up to 500 eggs? House Fly eggs are white and measure less than half an inch long.

Larvae or maggots:Less than a day later, in even as little as 8 hours the eggs will hatch. The larvae will then begin to consume whatever food they can find. A Maggot prefers 8 - 10 days in a warm and moist habitat.

Pupa: Then the maggot finds a place that is dryer in a higher location and begins to create a reddish-brown skin. After 3 - 6 days it will emerge as an adult House Fly.

Adult: The lifespan of a House Fly is only 15 to 30 days. You may be able to recognize a House Fly as being a female as the females are larger than the males. Females mature and are able to start laying eggs after only tow days. They will continue to lay eggs for about a month. Females are able to start producing eggs after two days of life and will continue to lay eggs for about a month.

If a female House Fly can lay 500 eggs a day for a whole month... many eggs would she have laid by the end of that month?

See results

A Day in the Life of a House Fly

You will find House Flies nearly anywhere you find you find humans or animals. They like garbage, manure or most anything else that left out in a warm environment.

House Flies get their nutrients from spitting saliva on their food, which liquefies it so they can suck it up with their sponge-like mouths.

Housefly Behavior

Have you ever had a fly land on your arm? It can be most irritating. It is the tiny hairs covering our body that tell us that the fly is there.

Flies Live with Humans and Animals - Label the Parts of a House Fly

Anatomy of a Housefly
Anatomy of a Housefly | Source

Housefly Anatomy

You will find House Flies nearly anywhere you find you find humans or animals. They like garbage, manure or most anything else that left out in a warm environment.

House Flies get their nutrients from spitting saliva on their food, which liquefies it so they can suck it up with their sponge-like mouths.

Laminate and mount a chart diagramming the parts of the House Fly. This will show how to spell words when writing about flies.


Old Black Fly's Math Lesson - Flies at the Picnic

Sandwich | Source

Math Centers

Make a workmat with a sandwich on the left and a glass of lemonade on the right. You might glue these onto red checked paper or glue a piece of red checked tablecloth to stiff cardboard to make it look like a picnic and 5 or more plastic flies for each child.

1. Pass out Fly Workmats and 5 plastic flies.

2. Students place all five flies on the picture of the sandwich.

3. As the class "How many flies are on the sandwich? (5)

4. "How many flies are on the lemonade? (0)

5. "How many flies are at the picnic? (5)

6. Now everybody say 5+0=5.

7. Model how to write this on the board.

Now move one fly over to the lemonade and ask the same questions.

Continue until 0+5=5.


1. Start with 6 flies.

2. Have children write the number sentences.

3. Have children try to discover all the number sentences of the number 8 independently or in pairs or as a part of center time.

This is adapted from an activity in Hands-On Math and was one of my students' favorite math activities. Having flies to move helped them to focus on the math and to retain the number facts.

Common Fly

Housefly | Source

Old Black Fly Math Workjob - How Many Flies?

When food is left out flies often land on it spreading disease.

1. You will need a bag or two of small plastic flies.

2. Make math mats with cut out shapes picnic foods 1-4" in size.

For example: chicken leg, slice of bread, strawberry, and watermelon slice.

3.Using the plastic flies, estimate how many flies it takes to cover each food and record answer.

Social Studies

Old Black Fly likes to Socialize - Keep Old Black Fly off your food

Children Playing in the Kitchen
Children Playing in the Kitchen | Source

Evict the Flies

How to keep flies out of the kitchen:

  • Don't leave food lying around
  • Take out the garbage on a regular basis
  • Wipe up messes right away

The easiest way to keep flies out of your home is to keep things clean.

Songs, Poems, and Chants

There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed Fly - Old Black Fly and the Old Lady

As you sing the song of the Old Woman who Swallowed a fly, add each of the mentioned animals to her skirt. Soon the children will be singing the song on their own and preforming it in the puppet theater.

The next stage is when you find them reading along with the words in the book.

Old Black Fly Sings and Chants - Counting the Flies

Ten Little Black Flies

by Evelyn Saenz

One little, two little, three little black flies.

Four little, five little, six little black flies.

Seven little, eight little, nine little black flies.

Ten black flies in the house.

Ten little, nine little, eight little black flies.

Seven little, six little, five little black flies.

Four little, three little, two little black flies.

One little black fly...SWAT!

Use plastic flies to act out this poem:

1. Start with 10 flies in your hand.

2. Put one on the table for each number you sing.

3. Swat and remove a fly for each number from 10 to 1.

Variations: Write the Addition and Subtraction sentences you are singing about.

Old Black Fly is Caught by the 5 Frogs on the Log - Frogs and Flies Song

Five Green and Speckled Frogs
Five Green and Speckled Frogs | Source

Five Green and Speckled Frogs eat Flies and Learn to Read

Make some frogs and flies, a log and a pond and you are all set to enact the song on the flannel board.

The words to the song or sentence strips can have flannel glued to the back.

  • Sing the song for the children several times using frog cutouts as manipulatives
  • Encourage the children to sing along
  • Then start adding sentence strips
  • Soon the kids will be able to put the sentence strips in the correct order
  • Show the children the spaces between the words.
  • Make cards with individual words and show the children how to match the words to the sentences.
  • Make copies of the sentences for children to cut apart
  • Match the words to the sentences.
  • Challenge the children to put the words in the right order to form the sentences.
  • They can check their answers by matching to the sentence strips.

Arts and Crafts

Old Black Fly's Art Center

You can make a delightful fly craft project with only cut out pieces of felt, pipe cleaners and a clothespin.

There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed Fly Center - Sequencing Activity

1. Color and laminate the pictures.

2. Write the names of the animals on the cards.

3. Children write the names of the animals that the Old Woman swallowed in the correct order.

Physical Education

House Flies are Fast - Old Black Fly Tag Game

House Fly on leaf
House Fly on leaf | Source

Old Black Fly Tag Game

Close your eyes and have someone else very gently touch the hairs on your arm or leg. This is the way that a house fly detects motion.

Now go out on the playground and play Old Black Fly Tag. One person is the fly swatter and the others are the flies. When a fly is tagged it becomes another fly swatter until all the flies are gone.

For the very young children you can play the Old Black Fly Tickle Game. Hold your baby in your lap and pretend that your finger is a fly. Make a buzzing sound and then have your fly land on all those tickle spots. Lots of giggling fun!

Old Black Fly's Guest Book

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    • RoadMonkey profile image


      2 months ago

      Love that fly and spider video! What a great hub, lots of ideas.

    • profile image

      Donnette Davis 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      Hello :) Just popping in to say that I have included this lens on my new lens all-about-bugs

    • akumar46 lm profile image

      akumar46 lm 

      8 years ago

      Old Black Fly used for unit study.Nice and interesting lens.Thanks.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I don't know of anyone else that could make a black flies lens and make it interesting and educational at the same time. What fun! Blessing this, you are so creative.

    • Arizona-Snow profile image


      9 years ago

      Wow, and I thought flies were just pests :)

    • GramaBarb profile image


      9 years ago from Vancouver

      I always enjoy a cup of coffee and sit back and read your lens slowly as they are always so enjoyable. This was delightful!

    • MsSnow4 profile image

      Carol Goss 

      9 years ago

      Wow!! lots of information and fun for the kiddos about the old black fly :) great!!

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 

      9 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      So - there's more to old black flies than you think :)

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Absolutely adorable! I used your felt fly idea to make a math file folder game and purchased some plastic flies at the $ store. You need a file folder, a large die and some black flies.. great for one to one correspondence and counting!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Nice lens it is. Here are so many information about Old Black Fly. Here are also some great links. I will try to browse them.


    • evelynsaenz1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Evelyn Saenz 

      9 years ago from Royalton

      @julieannbrady: Thanks for stopping by to visit the Old Black Fly.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Ah, that old black fly -- funny that we don't see too much of him here in Jacksonville Florida but those damselflies are a whole 'nuther topic!

    • CherylK profile image

      Cheryl Kohan 

      10 years ago from Arizona

      What a cool lens, Evelyn. Flies are disgusting but you've made this into a great science lesson that not only teaches how to keep healthy (cleanliness) but that flies are actually useful (they help reduce the numbers of bad caterpillars). But the best thing that I learned is why it's so darned hard to swat a fly!

    • mariaamoroso profile image


      10 years ago from Sweden

      Nice work! Funny and smiley =)

    • CoolFoto profile image


      10 years ago

      Delightful! Wish you had been one of my teachers. Lens roll to . Your lens will lighten up the feel of my serious Garden Pests lens. lol

      BTW I found you on Face Book.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Great lens

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 

      10 years ago from Southampton, UK

      This is another really great lens anda great educational resource. 5*****.

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 

      10 years ago from Canada

      I remember the song, I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly very well. Thanks for lensrolling to my ant-filled dinner menu!


    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Quick 

      10 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      Flies also make for a wonderful nature study topic for those living in the city with few natural resources around them.

    • naturegirl7s profile image

      Yvonne L B 

      11 years ago from Covington, LA

      Love it! Have you ever read Liza Lou and the Yeller Belly Swamp by Mercer Mayer? I'm not sure if it's still in print, but I think it is. Welcome to the Naturally Native Squids group. Don't forget to add your lens links to the appropriate plexos and vote for them.

    • religions7 profile image


      11 years ago

      Great lens as always. Bugs are a great theme to start from.

    • groovyoldlady profile image


      11 years ago

      Oooo. I love the fly swatter idea! My 7 year old just can't "see" phonemes, so I've started giving her sight words to memorize. I could put them on bug shaped cut-outs and have her swat 'em as I read 'em!

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Well, I'll take mr. old black fly any day over mrs. no-see-um! Fun lens. 5*****

    • RedPanda25 profile image


      11 years ago

      This is a great lens! Welcome to my Children's Books Group. I really like you lens! 5*, by the way.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Totally cute lens and so fun too! Welcome to the Going Buggy Group.

    • RuthCoffee profile image

      Ruth Coffee 

      11 years ago from Zionsville, Indiana

      These lens bring back so many memories of elementary school. Wonderful activities.


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