Bug Painting for All Ages

We love bugs and during the summer spend many late afternoons flipping over rocks and seeing what creepy crawlies scurry past. This activity is a great one for families with different abilities and ages because it’s the same supplies but everyone can participate. Of course my son had an elaborate story about an evil spider and super bee to go a long with the painting but my daughter was content with the simple task of making a mess.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some plastic bugs , our little ones are from Lakeshore Learning and our big ones are from Dollar Tree. You will also need some paper , plate and paint.  
  2. For young toddlers I would also suggest some painters tape to hold down the paper so they don’t make an even more amazingly big mess!
  3. Start by pouring the pain tin the plate.
  4. Dip your bug in and make some prints. 
  5. My daughter was skeptical at first.
  6. My son not so much.
  7. I thought the big bugs would be sought after but both of them liked painting with the smaller ones best I think. This also let me sneak in a little exploration about big and little for my daughter. 
  8. As well as allowing her to touch  and explore the bugs we shelter her from in the garden .
  9. I also unintentionally let her explore cause and effect when she grabbed her gleaming white head band with a paint covered hand. Ooops. Still a few girly things to adjust to.

Books About Bugs

An Ant’s Day Off by Bonny Becker is an interesting tale about an ant who has lived his whole life never seeing the sky , or anything beyond the tunnels he works in until one day he decides to take the day off. The text was a little long for my son who kept flip flopping on my bed, but he didn’t want me to close the book either. The story was solid though, my favorite part was when he tried to return to his tunnel and the guard he expected to give him heck, was supportive and even shared that he too has taken a day off.

Buzz by Eileen Spinelli is a really sweet tale about a little bee who loves everything about being a bee, especially flying! When she finds out that bees should actually not be able to fly her confidence in herself and her favorite thing about being a bee is lost.  Luckily that is not where this adorable tale ends and your children will love it. My son came running into the kitchen where I was reading this to my daughter who screamed at me until I let her hold the book so she could touch the adorable little bee.

I Love Bugs!by Phileomon Sturges is a rare find. It is listed as fiction but I would consider it as non fiction, as it really is a great factual book about bugs for older toddlers/ young preschoolers. It is really hard to find simple, short books that include facts and this one is perfect. It doesn’t go into the life cycles of butterflies or how lightning bugs light up, but it does use descriptive words with bright and charming illustrations. Great for the under 3 crowd, and useful for older kids too!

Baby Bumble Bee Craft

This craft can be adapted to almost any ability, as your child is able do less of the steps for them. Obviously my almost 11 month old had limited participation but letting her loose with the marker was the highlight of her day. She kept squealing so loudly I thought the neighbor’s dog would start howling. To say she was happy was a huge understatement and that is the point of activities with such young children, happy experiences, exploration and play. No need to turn it into a bee if you want to keep their masterpiece the way it is but let little ones explore ( with you in arms reach for safety).

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some yellow construction paper or card stock, some ribbon, black construction paper, scissors , pipe cleaner,  a black marker and painters tape.
  2. Start by taping down the yellow paper with painter’s tape. This is a must with toddlers.
  3. Hand the marker to your child. My daughter was sorta like… hmmmm what is this ? So my son jumped in to demonstrate.
  4. She got it all over her hands and started making prints, which works fine too!
  5. Next fold the colored paper in two. So it’s colored on both sides. Cut into the shape of a bee.
  6. Make a slit in the bee’s back.
  7. Make a rectangle of black paper and fan fold it.
  8. Using some of the extra black make a triangle for a stinger.
  9. Using double stick tape ( or glue) put the bee together with the stinger on the bum.
  10. Thread the fan folded paper through the slit. Trim if needed.
  11. Draw a face .I don’t use googly eyes with baby/toddler crafts usually but if you are doing this for older kids feel free.
  12. Poke a hole for the antenna and thread the pipe cleaner through, poke a hole and thread the ribbon through.
  13. Hang up!

Great Book About Bees

Buzz by Eileen Spinelli is a really sweet tale about a little bee who loves everything about being a bee, especially flying! When she finds out that bees should actually not be able to fly her confidence in herself and her favorite thing about being a bee is lost.  Luckily that is not where this adorable tale ends and your children will love it. My son came running into the kitchen where I was reading this to my daughter who screamed at me until I let her hold the book so she could touch the adorable little bee. * She is in the ripping books phase so when I read her books with paper pages ( vs board) I pop her in her booster.

Butterfly Sensory Tub

I love what we call butterfly pasta. Not only does my son eat it well, he plays with it well too.  We made this ages ago but between Easter and Mother’s Day crafts it got lost in the shuffle. As we pulled it out to play with it again I remembered I never posted this sensory activity. Although I didn’t photograph it I popped some of these butterflies into a clear Take and Toss sippy cup through a lid on it and my daughter has been using it as a shaker for weeks. So many uses!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some bowtie ( butterfly) pasta, food coloring, vinegar, ziploc bags, cookie sheets, a medium sized plastic tub, scoops, a divided tray and play tongs. You can also through in some penne pasta as ” Caterpillars”.
  2. Start by putting a few drops of your favorite food coloring into a ziploc.
  3. Add 1 tbsp of white vinegar.
  4. Throw in a few handfuls of pasta. Shake until all the liquid is gone.
  5. Pour out on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper to dry. The vinegar smell will lessen in time, even if it’s strong initially in a day or two it will be all but gone.
  6. Make multiple colors.
  7. Pour dry dyed pasta into a bin with scoops for little ones to explore, add penne pasta as caterpillars.
  8. Using a divided tray you can sort the pasta by color using tongs.

Butterfly Crafts For Kids

When I think of all the things I look forward to as the days get warmer and the flowers start blooming butterflies are at the top of my list. They are a fantastic spring theme for teaching life cycles, about bugs ( especially for those kinds not interested in creepy crawlies) and art lessons about mirror images. Oh and butterfly crafts are just fun and beautiful to make!

The Band Aid Butterflies were such a hit last year we made them multiple times, they are quick, low mess and kids get a kick out of using first aid supplies for a craft.

Hand Print Butterfly

This butterfly offers lots of opportunity to use fine motor skills and makes a cute keepsake too.

Doily Dragonfly

Ok so this one is a dragonfly but it’s so pretty! Make a few adjustments and bam! You have a butterfly.

Lightning Bugs

Ok another technicality these are actually lightning bugs but they could pass for butterflies!

Also check out these simple Butterfly Puzzles from my other blog on FamilyEducation.com

Need some books to go with these crafts?   Check out our children’s book reviews.

Play Dough Bug Sculptures

If you follow us on Twitter or Facebook you may have heard we are prepping to sell our house, this is possibly the least fun adventure I have ever had and I once ended up in Belgium by accident at 5am… long story. I have to keep the house spic and span while we are selling so get ready for some low on mess but high on fun activities like these play dough bugs . If you want to make your own play dough we have recipes even a gluten free play dough recipe!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some play dough in a few colors, some large googley eyes, pipe cleaners, straws and other things you might have on hand like tooth pics, popscicle sticks, buttons… no rules ! Also to protect my table I use an old cutting board as the work space.
  2. Sometimes kids need a guide when they are given a buffet to create with , sometimes they don’t. So I sat down and made this bug as an example of what he could use the materials to make not what he should make , explaining that there was no wrong way to create.
  3. Start creating!
  4. Hard at work
  5. A trio of bugs!

Bug Hunt

Get outside and turn over rocks to find creepy crawly bugs. On our bug hunt we kept count to add some math to our outside learning.

A Few Favorite Books About Bugs


Ace Lacewing: Bug Detectiveby David Bierdrzycki is such a fun read, I started it thinking it would go over my son’s head but he sat listening the whole time. The mystery begins with a missing Queen bee and will have you guessing who is behind her disappearance as Ace tries to solve it. There was a lot of humor that was lost on my then 2 year old but the fun Dick Tracy like illustrations kept him happy while I snickered at the jokes he missed. Very fun read for kids that aren’t yet ready for a chapter book but outgrowing pictures ones.

Bob and Otto by Robert O. Bruel is a lovely story about 2 friends who must part ways , in this case because one is a caterpillar who needs to build a chrysalis and the other an earth worm who needs to dig deep into the ground. What I like about this book is that it goes on to explain that the earth worm’s digging is vital for the trees to grow so that the caterpillar can eat the leaves and turn into a butterfly. I like the lesson about how we all play a part!

The Very Quiet Cricket

The Very Quiet Cricket by Eric Carle is another favorite the story is all about a little cricket who is trying and trying to chirp like the others to talk to all the bugs talking to him but he can’t! Whenever I read it to children ( and it was a classroom favorite too) I would wiggle my shoulders like I was trying to rub my wings together just like the cricket. Kids latched on to that and I loved seeing them so engaged by the repetitive but never boring book. I thought seeing 12 little 3 year olds wiggling was precious but one little 3 year old is pretty cute doing it too! Of course there is a “surprise” at the end that toddlers and preschoolers alike will love.