Spider Craft and Math Game

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 !

  1. 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.
  2. Start by punching the holes in the plastic.
  3. 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.
  4. Cut the pipe cleaners in half
  5. Thread the pipe cleaners through the holes and twist the ends in place.
  6. Add the eyes with glue. Let dry.
  7. Play

Bug Math

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.

  1. 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.
  2. Write out the number totals on your paper, cut and tape into your tray.
  3. Time to play ( and learn).Group the similar bugs.
  4. Count them
  5. Pop them in the right section!
  6. Don’t forget to dance when you are done ! Watch out , those are some mean jazz hands.

Go Eat Dirt!

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.

  1. 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.
  2. Start by putting the cookies in the bag and hammering them to a pulp.
  3. Put the cookies into a bowl and add the pudding.
  4. Mix
  5. Put some of this dirt mix into your serving cup and add some gummy worms.
  6. Add some more dirt mix.
  7. Add the rock candies .
  8. Let chill.
  9. Serve! I have seen it served in toy dump trucks, in flower pots… really your creativity is the limit!

Song

Books

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!


Zinnia’s Flower Garden This book is really useful not just about teaching about flowers and gardens, but also about patience and the annual cycle of a garden.  Zinnia plants and waits, waters, enjoys her flowers, then they die, she collects the seeds and plans her garden for next year.  I love that the main story is perfect for my almost 3 year old but there is much more for older children with longer attention spans. There is a little journal with notes about what’s happening with her garden, and various facts about plants as well.  Like in so many of her books the author celebrates hard work and her characters take great pride in what they do. A fantastic message for readers, big and little. I also love the mix of illustration and photographs in this book especially, it gives the illustrations depth and a really interesting look.

Find and Count Bug Hunt

find & count bug hunt nature activity

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!

  1. 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.Find and Count Bug Hunt
  2. 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. Find and Count Bug Hunt
  3. We drew pictures as well as spelled out the words.
  4. Out you go! Start searching!

    Find and Count Bug Hunt

  5. Make little check marks for the bugs/ creatures you find. We took turns. Find and Count Bug Hunt
  6. 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). Find and Count Bug Hunt
  7. He’s pointing to the  snake we found! Find and Count Bug Hunt 010
  8. Together count up your discoveries. Find and Count Bug Hunt

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!Find and Count Bug Hunt

Bug Books!

Ant's Day Off

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

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

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.

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Band-aid Butterflies

Bandaid Butterfly Craft

My son is a wee bit obsessed with emergencies right now, he plays paramedic or firefighter multiple times a day. Every car ride is a ride in a firetruck … well you get the picture. So I decided to use his enthusiasm for first aid at craft time! This is such an easy craft and  I think they turned out perfectly ! I love the variation in textures with the smooth band aids and the soft fluffy gauze.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some band aids, gauze pads, markers and a piece of construction paper ( or recycled cardboard ! ). Bandaid Butterfly Craft
  2. Start by decorating your butterfly wings ( the gauze) with a marker. We found that dotting the marker works best so the gauze didn’t get all stretched out. Bandaid Butterfly Craft
  3. Open your band aids – this took a while but my son was very proud he did it independently. Bandaid Butterfly Craft
  4. Next pinch the gauze, my son couldn’t do this step.Bandaid Butterfly Craft
  5. Pop the band aids on. We did this step together . Bandaid Butterfly Craft
  6. Add antennae with markers! I was so excited that he did this step, until now he would have had me do it insisting he couldn’t, both of us were proud that he did it with no help.  Bandaid Butterfly CraftBandaid Butterfly Craft

Need some books?

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Caterpillar Books

Make and Count Ladybugs

This number activity combines  number recognition, counting and one to one correspondence. All preschool math skills that are the building blocks for learning addition, subtraction and more complicated operations. This activity is easy to make simpler by reducing how many bugs you use, and using smaller numbers.  If your child has mastered these skills make the bugs into equations. Write 2+4 on the bug and have them use the dots as manipulatives and solve the equation with them!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some black, red and yellow construction paper, a marker, googly eyes and glue. I also used a piece of cardboard to anchor all 4 bugs. Preschool Math Activity
  2. Start by drawing the outline of a lady bug on one of the colored sheets of construction paper. Preschool Math Activity
  3. Cut out all 4 bugs and glue on the cardboard, add smiles if you want!Preschool Math Activity
  4. Cut out black dots for the bugs, after step 5 you may need to cut a few extra out but I found it easier to keep the activity flowing than make my son wait while I cut out the exact numbers he chose. We had a few left overs actually.  Preschool Math Activity
  5. Ask your child to choose a number for each bug. By letting your child choose the numbers it gives them some control which I am sure you agree is a great thing for preschoolers! Write the numbers out on each bug. If your child is able, have them write the number even if it’s huge and messy encourage them to try! Preschool Math Activity
  6. Add glue and the dots to each bug. Have your child count out the number as they add the glue. If your child needs some help with counting , do the glue yourself so your child is simply matching up the dots to the glue. Preschool Math Activity
  7. Encourage your child to count out loud as they add the dots, especially with preschoolers who have a tendency to skip numbers if they are counting out loud, you can intervene and encourage them to start again.  Use gentle corrections and lots of praise. By adding the dots one and a time this encourages one to one correspondence naturally. Preschool Math ActivityPreschool Math Activity
  8. After all the spots have been added to the bugs add glue for the googly eyes. Preschool Math Activity
  9. Add the eyes and let dry. Preschool Math Activity

Need a book about bugs to continue this lesson?

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