Toddlers love bugs. I have often thought about what it is about bugs that interests children so much and I think it’s that they are so accessible. No matter where you live you live near some bugs. These bug activities were all done with at least one of my children when they were a toddler. For me that is from about 18 months until 3 , but these activities would be fun for older kids too. It’s easy to find books about bugs for toddlers as well and you can find some of my favorite in this book list about bugs.
Finding activities that both my two year old and her six year old brother enjoy isn’t always easy. More and more he wants to do something she doesn’t have the patience or skill for yet. One thing they both love are hunts. Simple materials, fun game and a ton of learning. This bug hunt has color matching , counting and sorting as well as a ton of fun. This activity was a great way for both of them to play and learn together. As you will see they worked at their own level while working together. Although we used bugs you could use any small items like plastic Easter eggs, simple blocks or even cut out shapes.
- Gather your materials. You will need many multi colored small objects to hide, construction paper in the same colors ( we chose a rainbow theme but you could do any colors) and some kids eager to find things.
- Spread your colors out on a flat surface like the floor or table.
- Hide your bugs. Can you see any in this picture ?
- Explain the rules of the game. Find the bug and sort it in the correct color. For my son I added the following challenges : After he found a bug and put it in the right color I asked him to see which color had the most bugs and which had the least. This made him pause so his sister had a slight chance at finding some of the bugs and gave him a little math lesson too.
- Start finding those bugs! They were so quick it was hard for me to catch any pictures.
- My daughter loved sorting them and every now and then I would sneak one into the wrong color and she’d fix it.
- When we found them all I asked them to count. My daughter counted all the bugs in each color and my son counted all the bugs in every color. He also told me which color had the most, which had the least .
- After that he went off to play Lego but my daughter and I played two more times.
Books About Bugs
We try to always match up activities with books to reinforce active play with quality reading time. Here are 19 great bug books for you and your little bug hunters to check out.
My daughter is 13 months old and loves to listen to me sing. Shocking I know. I am not known for my singing talent, though I do love to see her face light up and how she reacts to the actions and lyrics. This ladybug song is great for summer and we sang it after catching and releasing some ladybugs in our backyard . Your kids don’t care how you sound, so sing . The goofier the better , if I can post it here for all the world to see you can do it in your own home.
I’m a little lady bug, see my spots
I crawl around your garden and in your flower pots
I’ve got some wings that help me fly
And catch those aphids buzzing by!
We’ve made some fun Ladybug Crafts too.
Rock Ladybugs– A great summer craft!
Paper Plate Ladybug – great for little ones.
Ladybug Math – a counting 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).
- 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.
- Start by taping down the yellow paper with painter’s tape. This is a must with toddlers.
- Hand the marker to your child. My daughter was sorta like… hmmmm what is this ? So my son jumped in to demonstrate.
- She got it all over her hands and started making prints, which works fine too!
- Next fold the colored paper in two. So it’s colored on both sides. Cut into the shape of a bee.
- Make a slit in the bee’s back.
- Make a rectangle of black paper and fan fold it.
- Using some of the extra black make a triangle for a stinger.
- Using double stick tape ( or glue) put the bee together with the stinger on the bum.
- Thread the fan folded paper through the slit. Trim if needed.
- 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.
- Poke a hole for the antenna and thread the pipe cleaner through, poke a hole and thread the ribbon through.
- 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.
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.
This butterfly offers lots of opportunity to use fine motor skills and makes a cute keepsake too.
Ok so this one is a dragonfly but it’s so pretty! Make a few adjustments and bam! You have a butterfly.
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.