We lived in a very rural area over the summer and started studying insects after Matisse, my husband and I all got stung by wasps. Alex, who was not stung, became very scared and refused to go outside. Since we spent a lot of time outside and the fear of the unknown can be worse than reality, I figured we should learn more about insects!
We started by collecting dead bugs from around the house and yard and we placed them in hand sanitizer in little plastic containers. These were a huge hit! After a while the boys started to bring me all the dead bugs they found. We had wasps, fireflies, beetles, ladybugs... it was really interesting. Some of them kept well for the entire summer but some did not last very long unluckily. It really helped my oldest get more confortable with bugs.
Then I made an insects shelf with:
▪︎ books (see below for more information on the books used)
▪︎ French insects 3-part matching cards
▪︎ a Melissa & Doug insects puzzle; we realy like this one because it is very realistic and showcases a lot of different insects.
We all worked on the puzzles together and spoke about the all insects. We did a lot of matching with the cards and the TOOBS.
We read a lot of insect books, and here are our favorites:
▪︎ Little Kids Big Book of Bugs by Catherine D. Hughes - As all books from the National Geographic Collection, it is great!
▪︎ The Very Quiet Cricket by Eric Carle
▪︎ Insect Emporium by Susie Brooks
▪︎ The Beetle Book by Steve Jenkins - If you want to know everything about beetles, this is the right book
▪︎ Les maisons des insectes by Sabine Krawczyk | English: Insects Torchlight - It is part of the first discosveries collection which we love. You can use the torchlight to see inside different bugs homes, lots to learn
▪︎ The Buggliest Bug by Carol Diggory Shields - This is a fun little fictional read with a lot to learn about insects and arachnids
▪︎ "Les Insectes de mon Jardin" by YOUPI! La petite encyclopedie des grands curieux (French only)
SENSORY PLAY AND ART ACTIVITIES
We really enjoy adding art, small world and sensory activities to our learning. I have found it is a great way for my boys to replay and recreate what they have been learning and also it often raises new questions and expands learning.
Homemade insect rubbing plates
I made these with hot glue and cardboard. What is great about these is that you can make any rubbing plates you like this way! We used rock crayons with it (turned flat) but you can use any crayons.
Taste-safe and nature insects sensory bins
I wanted to make a sensory/small world for the 2 big boys but I also wanted Theo to be able to participate, however he mouths everything so I made 2 trays:
▪︎ one with nature items: lots of branches to hide the insects, leaves, moss, rocks...
▪︎ one with only edible items: edible dirt (cornmeal, flour, water and ground coffee), edible water beads (soaked basil seeds with blue food coloring) and non-edible (too large to swallow) rocks.
▪︎ then I added our Insects Safari TOOBs to the trays.
They all went right for the basil seeds and Matisse may even have eaten handfuls of them (they are tasty! I tried!). Theo played for a little and was over it pretty fast. The big boys really enjoyed it though and enjoyed building insect houses.
Nature insects on cardboard
We went to collect some nature treasures and glued them to cardboard. We talked about the number of legs, antennas and wings, as well as the general anatomy of insects. We looked at the insects TOOB as a model.
Insects Mini World
This one was a fun project I made for the boys! I made a mini world in an Altoid box using felt, rocks, sticks, beads, Good Luck Mini TOOBs and a lot of glue! They really enjoyed it and it fared pretty well, however the animals disappeared pretty fast!
LEARNING ABOUT ANTS
After a while Alex started picking our ant books to read and started drawing ants everywhere! He even drew a full ant nest with corridors and the different rooms for the queen, the eggs, the larvae and the room where the aphids are milked. He also added arrows for them to know where to go (don't you love kids imagination?)!
To keep this interest going I pulled out all the ant books I had, added the TOOBs life cycle and printed the French lifecycle cards from Maman Happycultrice (Milestory) which are stunning!
After a while Alex went back to drawing and the ants went in an adventure, on a boat, in space on a rocket.
Here are the ant books Alex loved:
▪︎ Ohé, petite fourmi by Phillip M. Hoose | English: Hey, Little Ant - It discusses the value of all life forms, including a little ant
▪︎ Les fourmis by Valerie Videau (French only)
▪︎ Those amazing ants by Patricia Brennan Demouth - Very detailed book about ants with a lot of information, even the adults learned a lot
▪︎ Mina La Foumi by Anne-Marie Chapouton - We love this story of a little ant not like all the other (she is missing a leg), looking and finding her place in her anthill. Plus the boys call their aunt "Mina" since "Marina" was hard to say, which makes the story even more special!
Still following this strong interest, I gave the boys some homemade black playdough (make sure you use gel black food coloring, it gives the best black results and even though it is a quite greenish) and googly eyes and let them run around the yard for sticks! I asked them if they could make ants and here is what they made!
It was easy and fun, and everything is better with googly eyes anyways! Alex made quite a few and Matisse made the "queen". It is so much fun seeing their play evolve with what they have learned!
For more on insects, check out my post on Bees.