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!

Inspired By Jasper Johns

I love fine art. I love museums and I kinda like taking my kids there. Ok I love exposing them to art but honestly I wish I could take them to museums for a quick zip through then send them off with their dad to get ice cream while I soak it all in at my speed ( which is normally fast but in an art museum I am a turtle, a lethargic one at that).  Luckily one way to expose kids to fine art day to day is through books. We have a coffee table book that we flip through daily and we all have our favorites. The other day I caught my son pretending to shoot at this painting by Jasper Johns. I suggested we make our own and he skipped off to the kitchen to do just that.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some white paper, red paper and if you want another sheet of card stock to make it sturdy enough to throw things at. Also some round objects like jar lids to make the rings if you aren’t talented enough to make them free hand ( I am most certainly not, even with the lids I did it twice), blue and yellow markers, glue and scissors.
  2. Start by making the target using the lids to trace. Kids or adults can do this. I wanted this project to focus on cutting for my son so I chose this step and he did all the cutting ( which you’ll see later on) but there is not reason it needs to be perfect if wee ones want to do it , go for it.
  3. Next add the bulls eye.
  4. Time to color. This was a lesson in being careful, I didn’t tell him to stay in the lines but he naturally wanted to. I am not big on asking kids while doing art to stay in the lines but practicing control while drawing/writing is a good skill once they are working on printing letters.
  5. Time to cut. I wasn’t sure how far he’d get so I had adult and children’s scissors ready.
  6. He did it all himself – hooray. Cutting is another wonderful fine motor skill and important for writing as well.
  7. Add glue to the red paper. He was dropping “glue bombs” here… what can I say ?
  8. Pop the target on .
  9. Add more glue to the card stock add the target and let dry.

Fine Art Books by Bob Raczka


Artful Reading (Bob Raczka’s Art Adventures) is a perfect combination of promoting an appreciation of art and a love of reading. The concept is simple with each page showcasing a painting of someone reading . What I love so much is that while the text suggests what type of reading the painting is showing it’s still up for the reader to go deeper into each and decide what they are seeing. Both times my son and I rad this book we discussed what the people were reading and which we liked the best. I love books like this.

Here’s Looking at Me: How Artists See Themselves (Bob Raczka’s Art Adventures) is devoted to self portraits and the story behind each one in this fascinating book. This is a book for children older than my son who is 4 but I still showed him every painting ( all self portraits) and read highlights of the text which I found fascinating and can’t wait to share it with my kids when they are a little older. I read a lot of art history books for fun and I learned a few things reading this.  I can’t think of a better book to couple with a lesson about self portraits for kids 6-12.

No One Saw is a more general book  focusing on familiar subjects of different artists. What I think is so genius about this book is that it focuses kids’ attention on the subjects of the paintings and i a natural introduction into a conversation asking children what they would paint better than anyone else.

Monster Box

by Kim

This activity is a great one to keep tucked away for rainy days. You can use things from your craft stash and some regular household items.

What you will need are stickers or self adhesive craft foam pieces, chenille stems, and an empty box (we used a facial tissue box and a sandwich bag box).

This part is the easiest. Have your child cover the box with stickers and craft foam pieces.

While they are having fun you can make fun little appendages for your monster. We bent the chenille stems in zig zags and wrapped them around pencils to get a neat corkscrew look.

I simply poked small holes with a pencil and threaded the stems into the holes and bent the tip to keep them from coming out.

We cut out some white traingles and added some teeth.

What you have is one terrifyingly cute monster box.

Now your kids have a fun monster to play with. Our monsters ate random items and stored small toys.

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Kim is a contributing writer for No Time For Flash Cards, a mom to a toddler, a preschooler, and a foster parent, too. She juggles her day by trying out fun activities and crafts with the kids. After all, she is just a big kid herself. See what she has been up to over at Mom Tried It.

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.

Trash Rainbow Craft

trash collage rainbow craft for kids

I love rainbows. With St. Patrick’s Day around the corner rainbows have been popping up every time I sit down to brainstorm activities. This one was particularly fun because it used things I am cleaning out of my craft dump closet , incorporates my son’s incredible love of pretend play ( he’s a garbage sorter) and most every preschooler’s desire to sort.  You can do this in 2 parts sorting one day, making a rainbow the next or if I was still teaching I’d do this as a cooperative group project. My 4 year old did all the way up to putting the trash on then lost interest until I started putting some on and he ran back to the table saying he could do it better (is everything a competition in your house too? Sigh) so we did the gluing together.Make sure whatever materials you use that they are safe for the age/ ability of child you are doing this with.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a large piece of paper ( I used a grocery bag cut open ), glue, scissors, colored pencils/markers , 7 small containers, small squares of paper in the colors of the rainbow, a mixed mess of “garbage ” -paper/ buttons/foam/plastic toys/ribbon in the colors of the rainbow.
  2. Next fill a container up with all the “garbage”
  3. Start sorting by color.
  4. I was so pleased with how much he liked this part of the activity. It seemed to go on and on forever as he pretended to need a coffee break from his job at the garbage sorting factory. We are not short on imagination in this house.
  5. While he returned to work I made the rainbow with colored pencils.
  6. Time to add glue. We added two glue for a few colors at a time.
  7. Add the objects! We did this part together
  8. Add more glue.
  9. Add more objects.
  10. Let dry.

Books About Rainbows

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Duckie’s Rainbow by Frances Barry is a clever little book , you walk with her as she passes things like a yellow cornfield and blue pond until the pages above create a rainbow . I love the idea but reading it with my son ( who was 2 at the time) all he wanted to do was turn the pages as quickly as he could to make the rainbow. Not a big deal but this would make a better story time book then a bedtime one for that reason.

Planting a Rainbow by Lois Elhert is a wonderful book to use for teaching about flowers and colors. The illustrations are bold and bright, perfect for little curious minds. I have always liked this book because you can sit down and dive into it reading each flowers name on every page , or browse it more casually with a younger child simply noting the colors.

This project too complicated for your toddler? Yesterday in my Link &Learn weekly linky this awesome rainbow project from Toddler Approved was linked. When I saw it after writing this post I knew it would be a perfect link to share as an option for younger kids so I added it in .