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!
- 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.
- 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.
- Start creating!
- Hard at work
- A trio of bugs!
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 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.
My backyard is covered in spiders, which has led to my son and I trying to identify the ones we find using the internet . Have you ever googled “Spiders” , I never used to be afraid of spiders, super close up pictures of various spiders changed that for good. So if your little one is into these arachnids instead of googling and risking nightmares, make this fun spider craft, play this game and save yourself the grief !
- Gather your materials. You will need a plastic container, we used the plastic part of a light bulb package but any clear plastic would work. Some paint, a hole punch, googley eyes, glue and 4 pipe cleaners.
- Start by punching the holes in the plastic.
- Next paint the container from the inside. My son loved this part of the craft, he thought it was so cool to watch the paint from under the plastic. Let dry. On a sunny day I put this in the window and it dried (mostly) in 45 minutes.
- Cut the pipe cleaners in half
- Thread the pipe cleaners through the holes and twist the ends in place.
- Add the eyes with glue. Let dry.
I was lucky enough to get gifted these bug counters from a neighbor whose kids have out grown them. I wasted no time using them to teach some math. The goal of this game is to find the matching types of bugs, count them up and then find the number that matches the total in the tray and place them in.
- Gather your materials. You will need some counters ( erasers in fun shapes, poker chips.. or plastic toys work well too), a divided tray, some paper , tape and marker.
- Write out the number totals on your paper, cut and tape into your tray.
- Time to play ( and learn).Group the similar bugs.
- Count them
- Pop them in the right section!
- Don’t forget to dance when you are done ! Watch out , those are some mean jazz hands.
We have been having a blast outside, digging, planting, and finding slugs and worms. When it was raining I wanted to keep the dirt theme going so we grabbed a few treats from the grocery store and made some sweet edible dirt instead. This is an old favorite and there are many different recipes. This is the one I like the best for kids to help make it.
- Gather your materials. You will need some oreo type cookies, chocolate pudding, gummy worms, chocolate rock candies, a zip lock, toy hammer, bowl , and containers for serving.
- Start by putting the cookies in the bag and hammering them to a pulp.
- Put the cookies into a bowl and add the pudding.
- Put some of this dirt mix into your serving cup and add some gummy worms.
- Add some more dirt mix.
- Add the rock candies .
- Let chill.
- Serve! I have seen it served in toy dump trucks, in flower pots… really your creativity is the limit!
Jack’s Garden by Henry Cole is a garden version of the classic ” The House That Jack Built”. We watch as Jack prepares, plants and cares for a garden. I like the detail that the book goes into from the worms in the soil, to the seedlings, birds, flowers and insects that all work together for a garden to succeed. My son loved that Jack seemed to be a teenager, not sure where he got the idea but teenagers are the height of cool for my 3 year old. I also really appreciated the detailed drawings of things along the edges of each page, from slug eggs, to specific insects and different flowers, they all offered more learning while reading.
Construction Countdown by K.C Olson is a counting book that uses backhoes, dump trucks and cement mixers among other things to count. Before I even closed the book my son was signing for more. I read it 4 times since getting it out of the library today. A huge hit here!
Around our home we love to do handprint crafts. There is something so wonderful about using hands to create art in an unconventional way. You can celebrate caterpillars of all kinds with this simple handprint caterpillar craft. This is the perfect activity to accompany any book with caterpillars or the life cycle of a butterfly.
Gather your supplies. You’ll need a few items:
- Tempera paint (in a color of your choice, plus a little black)
- Paint brush (We prefer the wide tip sponge kind)
- Construction paper
- Little hands, of course
- Start out by prepping your work area. Lay down something to protect your work surface.
- Get your paints ready. I pour about a palm-sized circle of paint on a shallow tray or pie pan. That way I can have multiple colors on one tray. This is just preference. Do what works for you. Just be sure to get everything ready before you bring your toddler or preschooler in on the process.
- Next, using simple and clear directions, instruct your child to open their hand flat (like they are making a “high-five”), palm facing up.
- Paint only the palm and not the fingers. Be generous with the paint. Making sure to get all the side and crevicesN
- Paint the fingers up to the knuckle, black
- Remind them to keep their hand open and flat.
- Next, holding their wrist in one hand and their finger tips in the other, lay their hand flat on the piece of construction paper.
- While their hand is still down, press gently on the center of the back of the hand and all the fingertips.
- Lift the hand straight up.
- Repeat 4-5 times, the 5th time leave off the black fingers to make the head.
- Once dry, paint on two antennae and an eye and a smile, if desired.
by Eric Carle
Math and science all together is my kind of activity, but when it’s fun it’s even better. We have all been a little cranky around here and when that happens one of the best ways to shake off the fuss is to go outside! So I made a quick check list and we were off to find creepy crawlers and tally up what we found!
- Gather your materials. You will need a clip board, a marker and a piece of paper. If you want grab a magnifying glass and a plastic jar if you want to collect what you find.
- Make a simple check list with bugs you normally find in your yard. It’s okay if you don’t find some of the things on your list but if you come up completely empty handed that would be a huge bummer. So take their suggestions but fill in some gaps if all they suggest are lions, and tigers and bears! Unless you have those in your yard.
- We drew pictures as well as spelled out the words.
- Out you go! Start searching!
- Make little check marks for the bugs/ creatures you find. We took turns.
- Here he is counting and yelling out the number of ants he saw and I tallied them. ( which reminds me I need some Dr.Bronner’s to get rid of said ants).
- He’s pointing to the snake we found!
- Together count up your discoveries.
The best learning for young children are experiences they can do, and if they are resistant to something at the table, get outside ! You will both be happier and the lesson whatever it is will make a much larger impact than anything you had to force or cajole!
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.
The Very Quiet Cricket by Eric Carle is one of my favorites and I am a little shocked this is the first time I have reviewed it here. 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.
The Gentleman Bug by Julian Hector is a story about a bug but not just any bug a proper gentleman one who lives in the Garden, the Garden being a bug version of London. One day a lady bug comes to town and he is smitten. He tries to get her attention but falls flat. As it turns out though they do have something in common, a love of books and that brings them together in the end. I liked the details of this book, the illustrations were wonderful and the map of the garden in the inside cover was awesome but the story fell a little flat. I am eager to read the author’s other works though because I think there was potential it just wasn’t quite a home run.
Need more bug themed activities?
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