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Let’s Go On A BUG HUNT!

Warmer weather is here for many of us, and for those of you “up North”, the days will soon turn balmy for you as well (I promise!).  With warmer weather we get to enjoy budding plants, more outside playtime, and (our favorite) BUGS!

Exploring the world around us should be an integral part of growing up and learning.  Studying nature and the outside world allows children the opportunity to learn more about how we, as humans, work and live with and in the environment, taking care of our planet and the inhabitants thereof.  Through nature, children can explore patterns and solve problems.  They can learn to make decisions based on how that decision affects others around them, and they can observe life cycles of other creatures to learn more about themselves.  And, nature is simply COOL.  Bugs included!  Just ask any child what a worm or a beetle is, and they can certainly tell you!

WonderBrains offers a variety of products to promote observation of living creatures in a safe way – safe for children as well as the creatures!  Products, such as the Bug Explorer, are perfect for safely “catching” a variety of insects and observe them in a non-threatening way.  And, the insects can be released back into their natural habitat.  Or, look into products such as an ant farm or ladybug farm to bring insects that might be more difficult to capture into a safe observation area.  One of our favorite insect-toys in our family is the butterfly habitat.  With it, my boys can send off for caterpillars that the boys then watch as they grow and metamophosize into beautiful butterflies.  We then release them in our own back yard, where they can be spotted for quite some time afterward. 

Whether using store-bought product or making your own collection system (jars with holes in the lids, plastic containers, nets), bugs can be easily observed and recorded.  Even little tikes love to draw pictures of what they see.  Simply stapling a few sheets of paper together to make a journal or record book can open up many doors and opportunities to learn.  Encourage your child to ask questions, to look for answers, and to write or draw what they see.  Keep a journal of types of bugs found in your backyard, and encourage your child to keep track of the numbers of each kind they see and find.  Take photos of different insects to use as a reference when looking for more information at your local library or online.

As with any type of creature, teach your child some safety tips when handling living things.  Try not to touch any creature so as not to harm the animal (or have the animal harm your child!).  Always ask an adult before attempting to capture an animal/insect in order to make sure that the child is being safe and aware of the surroundings.  Try not to disturb the animal’s habitat, and be sure to release the animal back at the same place it was found so as not to confuse it.

Bugs can offer a multitude of learning opportunities and adventures!

Going Buggy

One of my goals this summer was to get my son somewhat over his intense fear of bugs.  And that is exactly what it is – INTENSE. 

In the past, we’ve tried holding insects and other critters for him to see (we’ve never made it to touch), but even that is almost too much for him.  However, I want him to appreciate and respect nature and other living creatures, not necessarily FEAR them.

Then, we came across something so simple, I couldn’t believe how quickly his tune changed.

We gave him a bug jar.

Now, a bug jar doesn’t need to be anything fancy.  It can be a plastic tub with holes punched in the lid for air.  Ours however, was bought…a plastic jar with a lid and mesh sides.  You can also get quite extensive with your collection containers, depending upon how serious of an entymologist you may have on your hands.

Within an hour of having his newly acquired jar in hand, our older son found a most interesting beetle (better known as the common “stink bug”) on our sidewalk.  He opened his jar, gingerly held a stick on the ground for the beetle to climb, then quickly but gently put the stick in the jar, closing the lid.  And that’s when he became a different child.

An insect that would have normally sent him screaming for the hills was now sitting on his lap, separated from his skin by some plastic and a mesh screen.  And, he LOVED it.  We found our insect book (because when you are trying to teach your child to handle their fears, you invest in every possible tool) and looked up our specimen, determined how he lived and what he ate, watched him crawl around over dinnertime, and then we released him to the wild, also known as our flower bed.  The next day, our son was back out there, searching for his “new friend!”

Since then, we’ve caught a mayfly, a dragonfly, countless roly polies and an earthworm (short term, though…he needed the dirt!), and my son has been intricately involved in each bug’s turn in captivity.  We even watched the mayfly molt on the side of the screening!  And, through it all, we’ve learned more about “bugs” than we ever thought possible, and more importantly, we’ve learned to respect our bugs.

He still isn’t willing to do much touching, and I’ll still be the one to chase the houseflies out of the house and get the spiders out of the corners, but they might have to take a turn in the bug jar before we let them go now.

Wonderbrains carries an excellent line of insect collectors.  Be sure to check them out!

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