Many kids are fascinated with insects of all kinds. If you have an inquisitive child who likes to explore nature up close or if you have a child who is interested in science, then this Theme Day based on creepy crawlies is a great way to learn more about the world of insects and other small creatures. It would be a nice Spring or Summer time Theme Day as well since that is when insects are most visible.
Print out the Family Theme Day Planner and decide which activities you’d like to do and in what order.
A few children’s songs come to mind with regards to insects and creepy crawlies:
Sing together the counting song “The Ants Go Marching” – check out http://www.kididdles.com/lyrics/a009.html for the lyrics.
Sing and do the actions to “Itsy Bitsy Spider/Eensy Weensy Spider” - http://www.kididdles.com/lyrics/e001.html
For something more modern, although relating only to the theme with its title, try the song “Spider Web,” by No Doubt.
You can find many free colouring pages online by using your favourite search engine and typing in “insect coloring page” or “bug” or “ant” or “spider” or any other name of a creepy crawly. You can also print out my Creepy Crawlies Colouring Page.
JOURNALING QUESTION PROMPT:
Write out one or more of the following questions in the family notebook or on a piece of paper to glue in your family scrapbook: What are some different types of bugs or insects? What is your favourite bug? What is the difference between an insect and a spider?
Choose the level of your child:
¨ Toddler – discuss the answer(s) out loud first and have your child draw a picture of the answer
¨ Preschooler/Kindergartener – discuss the answer(s) out loud first and write the answer down for him/her leaving one word for him/her to write out himself/herself with your help. You could also encourage him/her to draw a picture as well.
¨ Early Grade School – have your child either write out the answer himself/herself (encourage phonetic spelling) without your help, or offer to help with spelling each word out loud one word at a time.
¨ Grade School – have your child write a sentence or two on his/her own and then read over and discuss the response. (You decide whether to correct the spelling or not)
¨ Older Child – have your child write a longer response (paragraph).
¨ As A Challenge – instead of a question ask your older child to write a story or poem about bugs.
Print out a Bugs Word Search:
Check here for the answer keys:
Raid your child’s bookshelves to find any books on or about insects.
Go to the library with your child to find some books on bugs.
Go to the library on your own to find books on insects or bugs from both fiction and nonfiction to have already on hand for your theme day. Many libraries allow you to go online and search for titles based on subject (search for “bugs” or “insects” under “children’s books”). Reserve them if you can to save time.
Try some of these titles if you can find them :
· Butterfly House, by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Greg Shed, Scholastic Press, 1999 – This beautifully illustrated book tells the story of a little girl and her grandfather who save a caterpillar from a hungry bird and then take care of it until it turns into a butterfly. The end of the book includes facts on how to raise a butterfly.
· Have You Seen Bugs, by Joanne Oppenheim and illustrated by Ron Broda, North winds Press, 1996 – The rhyming verse in this book tells many interesting facts about bugs and the illustrations, which are photographs of paper sculptures, are unique.
· I Love Bugs, by Philemon Sturges and illustrated by Shari Halpern, Harper Collins, 2005 – The very simple rhyming text is about a little boy who, just as the title promises, loves bugs.
· Miss Spider’s Tea Party, by David Kirk, Scholastic Inc., 1994—A counting book of sorts, this brightly illustrated book tells the tale of the lonely and friendly Miss Spider who wants ot host a tea party but the other bugs refuse to come because they are afraid of being eaten.
· Oddhopper Opera: a Bug’s Garden of Verses, by Kurt Cyrus, Harcourt, Inc., 2001 – This collection of poems tells the story of the activities of different bugs throughout the spring until autumn.
· Ugh! A Bug, by Mary Bono, Walker and Company, 2002 – humorous rhyming text and illustrations ask the reader a number of questions on how one could react to different bugs, This book has a neat mix of pencil and watercolour illustrations with little plastic clay models of the various bugs on them.
Try some of these nonfiction/learning titles if you can find them:
· Bug Out! The World’s Creepiest Crawliest Critters, by Ginjer L. Clarke and illustrated by Pete Mueller, Grosset & Dunlap, 2007—An All Aboard Science Reader Level 2, this is a great book for beginner readers with lots of cool information about many different types of bugs.
· Bugs Up Close, written by Diane Swanson and photography by Paul Davidson, Kids Can press, 2001 – Big close up photographs of insects and concise text makes this a good nonfiction book to study bugs with your children.
· Classifying Insects, by Andrew Solway, Heinemann Library, 2003 – This would be great for older children as it has more in depth information about insects with lots of up close photographs.
· Don’t squash That Bug! The Curious kid’s Guide to Insects, written by Natalie Rompella, Lobster Press, 2007 – This is another great resource book for kids with concise easy to read text and lots of photos. This one is different because it examines bugs according to their scientific order.
· The Insecto-Files: Amazing Insect Science and Bug facts You’ll Never Believe, by Helaine Becker and illustrated by Claudia Dávila, Maple Tree Press Books, 2009—This is a fun book packed with interesting bug facts and activities to go along with them.
· Why Do Bugs Bite and Sting?, by Steve Parker and illustrated by Graham Rosewarne, Benchmark Books, 1997—this is an interesting nonfiction book because it answers specific questions about bugs that children may ask such as why do bugs wear bright colors, stay so small, have lots of legs and well as the title question and more?
For something different try this poetry book:
· Flit, Flutter, Fly!: Poems about bugs and other crawly creatures, selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Peter Palagonia. Doubleday Book for Young readers, 1992.
Materials: Coloured paper, various stickers of bugs (check your local dollar store or craft store), (Optional) markers or crayons.
Step 1: Let your child choose the background colour to work on.
Step 2: Give your child the stickers and have him/her arrange them on the coloured paper in either a scene or all over as a collage.
Step 3: (Optional) If your child desires he/she can add embellishments or details to create a scene. My kids opted not to do this.
EGG CARTON BUGS:
Materials: An empty paper egg carton, child-safe scissors, various colours of paint, paint brushes, jar of water, newspapers or plastic mat to lay out, paint clothes or smock (Optional: pipe-cleaners, googly eyes, white glue, facecloth for sticky fingers).
Step 1: Have your child determine what insect he/she would like to make.
Step 2: Help your child cut out the egg carton cups in various sizes depending on what creature(s) will be made (i.e. one cup for a ladybug, one or two cups for a spider, three cups for an ant, four or more cups for a caterpillar).
Step 3: Let your child paint the cup(s) however he/she likes for the type of bug being created.
Step 4: Let the cups dry then add more details (eyes, legs, antennae) with either more paint or with pipe cleaners and googly eyes.
POPSICLE STICK CATERPILLAR:
Materials: wooden popsicle sticks (or store-bought craft sticks in different colours), small coloured pompoms, markers or googly eyes, white glue, facecloth for sticky fingers.
Step 1: Help your child apply white glue in a strip down one side of the craft stick or popsicle stick.
Step 2: Have your child put coloured pompoms along the glue.
Step 3: Help your child apply googly eyes with white glue to one end of the popsicle stick (or when the craft is dry have your child draw his/her own eyes).
Step 4: Apply white glue in the middle and glue the popsicle stick or clothespin to the wings.
Step 5: Allow the craft some time to dry.
COFFEE FILTER BUTTERFLY:
NOTE: There are many different variations to this craft. Here are some sites where I found the basics for our version: For some tie-dye inspiration try these http://www.housingaforest.com/tie-dye-butterfly-on-a-stick/ or http://crafts.kaboose.com/butterfly1.html or to stamp up the wings check out this one http://www.gingersnapcrafts.com/2013/04/coffee-filter-butterflies-kid-craft.html
Materials: Round paper coffee filters, washable markers, a spray bottle full of water, wax paper, wooden clothes pins, pipe cleaner, child safe scissors.
Step 1: Flatten the coffee filter and lay it flat on a piece of wax paper.
Step 2: give your child some colourful washable markers and have him/her colour all over the coffee filter. We found that designs didn't work very well but just splotches of colour did whch makes this a really easy craft for toddlers and preschoolers.
Step 3: Let the filter dry or if you have no patience do what we did and dry with a hair dryer on the lowest setting.
Step 4: Once the filter is dry gather the top and bottom of the circle and pinch towards the centre to create the two wings. This is a good step for parents if you are doing this with little ones.
Step 5: Open the clothes pin and set the pinched middle in the pin so that when it is closed it will hold the paper in place.
Step 6: (Parent step) Cut some pipe cleaner into a smaller piece and bend over to create antennae. Pinch the pipe cleaner between the closed clothes pin as well.
NOTE: If you want this to be a more permanent craft you could glue the coffee filter and pipe cleaner to the clothes pin using white glue. Let it dry before you child plays with it.
WHAT TO DO WITH THIS CRAFT: You could hang them from a window using fishing line for a bright window display. You could give them to your child as a toy. They would also make a beautiful topper in place of a bow for a birthday or mother’s day gift.
FINGERPRINT ANTS AND OTHER INSECTS:
Materials: Stamp (ink) pad, white paper, coloured markers , face-cloth for messy fingers.
Step 1: Have your child press a finger on the ink stamp pad and then press on the white sheet of paper.
Step 2: Show your child how you can turn the fingerprints into bugs by adding antennae and legs. Consider the number of body parts, too (for instance an ant has three body parts).
Step 3: Encourage your child to draw more details on the page (like spider webs, grass, ant hills, flowers etc.).
Step 4: Put your child’s art on display or glue it into your Family Theme Day Scrapbook.
If your child likes to draw try to find this book: How to Draw Bugs: Easy Step-by-step Projects, by Lisa Regan and illustrated by Steve Roberts, Miles Kelly, 2008.
Look for any other bug related crafts at your local craft store, including foam insect finger-puppets or foam stamps for paints which is what we used to make a buggy picture!
Ants on a Log:
Ingredients: Celery, peanut butter (or cream cheese or processed cheese spread if your child has a nut allergy), raisins.
Step 1: Spread peanut butter or cheese into the ridge of celery sticks.
Step 2: Let your child place raisins on each celery “log” to be the ants.
Spider sandwiches: English Muffins, cream cheese (processed cheese spread, or peanut butter), any other sandwich toppings your child likes (like egg salad or tuna), pretzel sticks.
Step 1: Cut an English muffin in half and toast it.
Step 2: Spread cream cheese (or processed cheese spread or peanut butter) on one half of toasted English muffin.
Step 3: Press 8 pretzels (four on each side) so that they stick out the side of the muffin like legs.
Step 4: If adding additional toppings do so now and then top with the second half of the muffin.
Spaghetti looks like worms of course, or you could find some bug shaped pasta which is sometimes available at grocery stores.
Easy Grasshopper Pie:
Ingredients: Half a 200 g box of chocolate wafer cookies (about 30 cookies), 5 cups vanilla ice-cream (half of a litre box of ice-cream), 1 tsp peppermint extract (or to taste), 2 or 3 drops of green food coloring
Step 1: Crush the cookies in a re-sealable bag (kids like this crushing part) and spread the crumbs in a 8 or 9 inch round cake pan or a large rimmed glass or tin pie plate.
Step 2: In a food processor (or by hand in a large bowl after letting the ice cream soften for a bit) mix the ice cream, peppermint and food coloring. You may have to do this a few scoops at a time if your machine is smaller.
Step 3: Spread the ice cream over the crushed cookies in the cake/pie pan.
Step 4: Freeze for at least 6 hours before serving .
Mud and Worms:
Ingredients: Chocolate pudding, crushed Oreo cookie crumbs or chocolate wafer crumbs (optional), gummy worms (or pieces of gummy circles if you cannot find the worms).
Step 1: Make pudding according to package instructions (or buy pre-made to be quicker) and put some pudding in a dish per family member.
Step 2 (Optional): Add crushed chocolate cookie crumbs over the pudding.
Step 3: Arrange gummy words squirming out of the pudding mud.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE BUG?
Read some nonfiction books about insects together to search for each family member’s favourite bug. Then print out my Favourite Bug Colouring Page for each family member to draw a bug in the magnifying glass.
Look throw some nonfiction books from the library on insects and other bugs and then fill out my Classifying Insects Chart together as a family.
Many kids find the metamorphosis of a butterfly fascinating. If this is the case with your child search for the lifecycles of a butterfly and a dragonfly in nonfiction books from the library to compare the differences between the two, print out My Metamorphosis Worksheet and then together draw the two different metamorphosis cycles.
A special thanks to Sixth-grader Taylor from Las Vegas and her Aunt Sarah for suggesting this link to an article they both wrote about common house bugs: http://www.modularhomeowners.com/common-house-bugs/
Another special thanks goes to Fourth-grader Brendan from California for finding this super website for us: http://www.bedbugs.org/insects-for-kids/
A great site for kids is http://www.amentsoc.org/bug-club/ which has care sheets for budding entomologists, a great section of fun and games (including printable insect parts to paste together to make your own bugs).
The University of Kentucky has a great site called Entomology for Kids and Teachers with interesting links such as Insects as Food and some good photographs too - http://www.ca.uky.edu/entomology/dept/youth.asp
For fans of the beautiful butterfly look at this website: http://butterflywebsite.com/
Print out one of my Bug Bingo Sheets (there are four of them) and go outside to either individually compete or together as a family search for insects to mark off the Bingo Sheet. Every time an insect is found that is one the sheet cross it off or colour in the space. Five across wins!
Q: How do bees get to school?
A: They take the school buzz.
Q: What do you call it when two spiders get married?
A: A webbing.
Q: How do fireflies start a race?
A: Ready, set glow!
Q: What sport do insects like?
Q: What do you call a large ant?
A: A Gi-ant!
Q: What do spiders like to eat with their hamburgers?
A: French Flies
Q: why did the little boy throw the butter out the window?
A: he wanted to see a butter-fly.
Q: What kind of insect is always found at a mall?
A: A grass-shopper.
See if you can find this great family game at an Educational Store near you: http://www.professornoggin.com/games/10412-IS.html
Search through your child’s DVD/ video collection (or visit your local library before hand or the Video Store) to find your child’s favourite shows highlighting bugs and insects or with bugs as the stars
For younger children try:
· Miss Spider’s Sunny Patch Friends
For a good educational DVD try to find this title at your local library:
· The Magic School Bus: Bugs, Bugs, Bugs!, Scholastic, 2004 – The three episodes included on this disc teach about ants, bees and butterflies respectively.
For bug movies try:
· A Bugs Life
· Charlotte’s Web
Many Educational Stores and Toy Stores (even Dollar Stores) carry Bug Kits with magnifying glasses, nets and little containers to put insects in. If you choose to use these teach your children about respecting these creatures and not hurting them in the process. As well, make a big show of letting the creatures go at the end of your search.
Print out my Bug Hunt Worksheet and go for a walk as a family around your block or at a local park to write down the names of all the different insects and creatures you find.
Tarantulas migrating on Mount Diablo in California.
Photo: Larry K
Migrating Monarch Butterflies
(Pismo Beach, California)