Bug Science

This is an idea that one of my five-year-olds had.  Make a stick bug out of toothpicks.

You will need 3 toothpicks per bug.  Leave one toothpick as is, but bend the other two in the center to make legs.  Put a dab of glue in the crease of the legs and glue to the straight toothpick.  While your bug is drying, head outside to find sticks.  We glued our bugs onto the sticks after we painted them.  Some children painted them brown.  Others painted them green and hid their bugs on sticks with leaves.  This is also a great way to reinforce camouflage!

Butterfly Life Cycle, Day 1: Make caterpillars-glue three green pom-poms (insects have three body parts) to a clothespin and add googly eyes (if desired.)

Day 2: Put your caterpillars in a cocoon.  Paint the outside of a toilet paper tube with watered down glue, and then cover it with brown or green tissue paper.  Cover one end; place caterpillar inside and then cover another end.

Day 3: Make wings for your butterfly.  I like to color coffee filters and spray them with water, then dry them.  Poke your cocoons open and make your butterfly.

The kids enjoyed this hands-on way of learning the butterfly life cycle!

We made “Awesome Anthills!”  The kids cut anthill shapes from gray construction paper, then used pencil erasers and markers to make ant prints all over the “hill.”

Here’s how we made our prints: the erasers inked on a stamp pad, then pressed three times in a row on the paper to make the three round parts of the ant’s body.  (Science tip: these are called the head, thorax, and abdomen.)  The kids then added legs and antennae using fine tip markers.

At a local pet store I got some stick bugs cheap.  They don’t take much in the way of care (just some blackberry leaves or ivy leaves and mist some water on them once in a while.)  When the bugs get bigger, I will take one out and let the kids hold it.  Some of the kids won’t hold the bug, but they will get up close to me and take a look.  I noticed when I put the bugs on the science table; more kids used that area than when they were loaned out to other classrooms.

During insect week, I do a unit on worms.  It is wonderful!  We make a worm farm in a large clear Rubbermaid tub.  In it, we put sand, dirt, shredded paper, rocks and wet leaves.  Then, we add a dozen or so worms (you can get them at the bait store, or you can hunt for them yourself.)  At first, the kids are a bit shy, thinking the worms feel weird; but once they get to hold them, you won’t be able to get them away from the science table!  We take turns finding all the worms; we compare their sizes by lining them up side by side on the table; we look at them with our magnifying glasses; they are wonderful little creatures!  We look for their “worm fuzz” (that’s how they squiggle through their worm tunnels) and I eventually give each child a worm to take home and “plant” in their gardens at their houses.  It is a wonderful unit that my three-year-olds enjoy!