Spring is best enjoyed outdoors, and it's a great time to learn about all the little critters that share our world with us.
I can't tell you how many times I've taken children to the zoo, only to have them all oo-ing and ah-ing over a beetle or a roly poly. Sound familiar? There's a couple of things that make all those little critters so appealing: they're tiny, and kids seem to love tiny things, they move, and that's pretty cool, and there are so many of them that you can almost always find one to check out!
It's amazing to see the relief on children's faces when they realize that bees aren't out to get them! We also talk about how a bee's stinger is part of her body, and that she dies if she stings something. If we aren't a threat - batting at her or bothering her, then she most likely won't bother us either.
If you have a garden area, even a small one, you probably get lots of insect visitors that you can observe. Try giving children a pencil and a notepad and encouraging them to draw what they see.
Check out the aphids on our cabbage plants! (Yes, it really is cabbage. I let them go to flower, and then we watch the insects come, and we also like to nibble on the tasty cabbage flowers ourselves - although not if they're covered in aphids!)
It's no surprise to find ladybugs crawling on the cabbage, and we often find ladybug pupa too!
I've blogged before about seeing the butterfly exhibit at the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens, but I'll mention it again anyway. If there is an opportunity for you to walk through a live butterfly exhibit, I hope you will - unless your children are scared of them. Last year I took 3 different groups of children to the exhibit, and the first 2 groups LOVED it. There were 2 kiddos in the last group who didn't like bugs getting too close to them, and it didn't matter that they were harmless and beautiful. I should have prepared those kiddos better for our trip, or let them skip it. 20 years of teaching, and yes, there is definitely still more for me to learn!
If you don't have a garden area, and you can't get to an exhibit, you might consider raising butterflies. I've had a lot of luck with painted lady butterflies, which I've ordered from Insect Lore before. There are other companies too, that's just the one I've used. The first time I raised butterflies I had them in a cardboard box enclosure with plastic side windows. Please, please, don't use that! It wasn't big enough for the butterflies to fly in, so they'd launch from one side, crash into the windows, and unable to hold onto the slick plastic, slip to the floor. They were able to climb up the corners, between plastic sheets. Sad! After that I made a wire frame that fit inside a large plastic bin, and added a fine mesh cover.
I've bragged about Bella's book club at the Botanical Research Institute of Texas before too. Check out the fun insect learning activities we enjoyed at one of their story times. If you are in or near Fort Worth, I highly recommend joining them!
Of course there are times when you need to take the learning inside, and if you are a teacher, there are times you need paper and pencil activities too.
If you are interested in insect themed arts and crafts, please check out my Insect board on Pinterest,
there are so many people with so many amazing ideas!
I've put many of my best insect photographs into a fun sentence-picture matching activity. (It is $3.50 to buy from my TeachersPayTeachers store).
I used a lot of preprimer and primer words, and designed the activity for student success. I tried it out with a former student, and as you can see from the look on her face, she was ecstatic to discover she could really read all the sentences. If you're working on early reading, or you have a junior entomologist on your hands, I hope you'll check it out!
If you'd like to see all my insect themed resources, just click here!
Have an awesome spring!