Start by going outside and lying in the grass. Close your eyes and listen to the nature noises all around you. What other senses can you use with your eyes closed? Smell the grass and the fresh air. Feel the warm sun on your skin. Listen to the birds, the wind and the bugs. If you hear noises you can’t identify, try to figure out what’s making them.
While you’re lying so still, watch how many bugs magically appear around you. See how many you can find and talk about what it might be like to be a bug and live outside in such a giant world. If you’re looking for a game to play while you’re out here, try our bug bingo checklist.Now that you have an idea of where all the bugs are hiding, try to catch a few. Nets and bug vacuums are wonderful tools that can be found at any toy store, but don’t underestimate the power of two hands and a little patience. Look under rocks or where there are tell-tale signs of life, like ant hills. Use a magnifying glass to look at your new friends and make notes about the environment where you discovered them. If you’re going to have your bug friend over to stay for a while, you’ll need to make sure all the same items are in his box: leaves, dirt, rocks, twigs, flowers, moss, a bit of water, etc.
If you’d like to sing while you’re searching, modify the words to the song “Going on a Bear Hunt” to say “Going on a Bug Hunt.” You can find the original lyrics and tune at this site:
It’s a good idea to make a bug habitat before you go on your bug hunt. Store-bought ones are easy, but homegrown ones are just as fun – all you need is a box or jar with holes in the top. You’ll add all the extras to either option when you catch your bugs.
Now that you have some new bug friends, do some research together to know more about them. What kind of bugs are they, if you don’t already know? What do they eat? Where do they live? How long do they live? How do they grow? What makes them special? This is a great time to educate your child about the bugs’ life-cycle, habitat and food. If you can’t care for your bugs long-term, plan on letting them go after about 2 days.
Now that you’ve seen them in action and learned more about them, pretend to be a bug! Make tunnels like ants, put on a ‘stinger’ (I recommend toilet paper rolls or birthday hats) and play tag with your bums (I call this Bee Tag), do the crab walk or hold spider relays. Or make up your own game using a part of the bug you found.
You can also take a field trip to a natural museum to see the insect display. It can be fascinating for your little one to see all the different kinds of butterflies, beetles and other creepy crawlies science has documented. Talk about your child’s favorite one and bring along supplies to draw a picture.
If you really want to see the world from a bug’s perspective, try watching a movie. There are plenty of amazing documentaries out there if you think your child would be interested, but even “A Bug’s Life” would be fun after these activities.
(Click on image for source)
Suggested Reading: (See call number 595 for a wide variety of non-fiction books on bugs)
- Big Book of Bugs – Theresa Greenaway, DK (ISBN: 9780789465207; Call #: 591.53)
- The Transmogrification of Roscoe Wizzle – David A Elliot (ISBN: 0763611735; Call #:J Elliott)
- The Very Lonely Firefly – Eric Carle (ISBN: 9780399227745; Call #: P Carle) See also: The Hungry Caterpillar, The Grouchy Ladybug, The Very Busy Spider
- Ant Cities – Arthur Dorros (ISBN: 0690045700; Call #: J 595.796 D7379)
- Bug Boy – Carol Sonenklar (ISBN: 0805047948; Call #:J Sonenklar)
- My Father’s Hands – Joanne Ryder (ISBN: 068809189X; P Ryder)
- Miss Spider’s Tea Party – David Kirk (ISBN: 0590477242; Call #: P Kirk) Look for others in this series, as well as a TV cartoon series about Miss Spider. See also: Miss Spider’s ABCs