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!