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It’s (unofficially) bug appreciation month over here, so we’ve put together a whole swarm of insect learning and play activity ideas for you! Whether you have a young entomologist, or a little one who’s less than thrilled about bug learning, I guarantee you’ll find something here that will have them buzzing with excitement.
I’ve intentionally included a wide variety of resources for little learners with all different interest types in this collection. From fact-lovers and little artists, to outdoor adventurers and kids who need to get up and MOVE, there’s something here for everyone. No matter what type of learning approach your kids respond to, you’re sure to find *something* here that encourages insect appreciation, so if one project hasn’t ignited their interest, try another from the list!
Note: We prefer to shop locally or use what we have at home, but this list contains a few Woodpeckers Crafts and/or Amazon affiliate links for reference. As Amazon Associates we make a small commission on qualifying purchases.*
INSECT LEARNING AND PLAY PREP
Here are a few ideas to help you prep for insect play and make the most of your bug learning time…
SET ASIDE A SPACE FOR INSECT LEARNING AND OBSERVATION. Whether it’s a corner of the garden, trays on a set of bookshelves, a shoebox filled with activities and play props, or a special kids’ table, setting aside a dedicated space always makes learning more fun! Here are a few wonderful bug learning spaces you can use for inspiration to create your own insect activity setups…
- Creepy crawly invitation station from Little Lifelong Learners
- DIY entomology lab for kids from Early Learning Ideas
- Nature observation table from How We Montessori
FILL YOUR BOOKSHELVES WITH BUG BOOKS. We’ve created a list of our favorite bug-themed picture books here.
CONSIDER YOUR OWN REACTIONS TO BUGS. Bugs…we adults can sometimes give them a bad rap without even realizing it. I know I’ve been guilty of a shriek (or two, or three) sometimes even an “EW!” by a surprise insect encounter. Recognizing and shifting our own perceptions and reactions can actually help kids overcome a fear of bugs (from PBS KIDS for Parents) and foster a lasting interest in insect learning.
STUDY INSECT BEHAVIORS THROUGH OBSERVATION
One of the ways easiest ways for kids to learn about bugs is through direct observation. Making a connection to the bugs that live in your area can be as simple as spending an afternoon in the backyard. What special bugs are you seeing? Where do you see them, and do you find them in the same spot every time? Are they growing or changing?
Try one of these activities to help your kids safely observe and study the behaviors of local bugs…
- GO ON A BUG HUNT! Ahhh the thrill of a(n insect-friendly) hunt – there’s nothing like realizing exactly how many bugs live and work right in your own yard. Go on a bug safari with Rainy Day Mum, and use our free printable bug scavenger hunt to keep track of what you’ve found.
- OBSERVE AN INSECT. Spend some time watching and listening to the bugs around you. You can spread out a blanket and spend some time at ground-level, or make your own cool DIY bug observation box. Use these bug spotter sticks from Sunhats and Wellies to track where you’ve seen bugs in your yard. You can also try raising butterflies (from Fireflies and Mudpies) or this insect pet activity from Go Science Kids.
- POLLINATORS VS. DECOMPOSERS. Make a DIY ant farm from Generation Genius to watch decomposers in action. Recreate the pollinator process with pollen transfer fine motor activity from Taming Little Monsters or more advanced pollination collection activity from Science World. How do these types of bug processes help our environment? Can you find and observe bugs completing these processes in real life?
INVESTIGATE INSECT HABITATS
Where do insects live and how does their home help them survive? How do insects help your gardens or affect the environment in your particular neighborhood? How can we make our yards inviting attracting habitats that keep local bugs healthy?
CREATE A BUG-FRIENDLY HABITAT IN THE BACKYARD. Making your yard bug-friendly is a great way to help explain the symbiotic relationship bugs typically have with their habitats. Learn about insect habitats and encourage environmental stewardship through some of these hands-on activities…
- Make an easy bug hotel from Red Ted Art or try this wood box version from Babble Dabble Do.
- Build a hospitable home for pollinators like this DIY mason bee habitat from Natural Beach Living and add a simple bee bath (from Garden Therapy).
- I love this butterfly feeder made from recycled supplies (from Handmade Charlotte).
RECREATE BUG HABITATS THROUGH SENSORY PLAY. For bug habitat investigation in any season, grab a box or bin and make your own environments! You can use real natural elements (dirt, sand, mulch, leaves, etc.) or try one of these sensory-stimulating ideas…
- This spring bug sensory bin from Happy Toddler Playtime uses creative alternatives to grass and dirt.
- This ladybug sensory bin from Frugal Mom is a great way to recreate woodland insect surroundings.
- Use beans for this clever bug sensory bin from Fireflies and Mudpies.
LEARN ABOUT INSECT SPECIES, ANATOMY, AND LIFE CYCLES
INSECT SPECIES INFO AND FACTS
- Visit National Geographic Kids’ insect hub
- Grab a set of free printable insect fact cards from Stay At Home Educator
- Find an age-appropriate lesson plan with Scholastic’s collection of bug lessons
- Expand your pollinator knowledge with Whole Kids Foundation’s kids bee activities and resources
- Marvel at the world of bizarre bugs from National Geographic Kids
- Fall in love with a super cute bug from this list of adorable insects from Bright Side
- Find a new favorite bug fun fact from the Smithsonian Institute
- Have a budding gardener? Discover a beneficial bug for their garden (from the SeeWhatGrows.org)
PRACTICE BASIC BUG IDENTIFICATION
- Start simple with this bug or not sorting tray idea for toddlers from A Little Pinch of Perfect
- Make identification a game with this free printable bug-themed I-spy game from And Next Comes L
- Take our free printable bug scavenger hunt on a trip outside to find and identify common bugs.
EXPLORE THE BODY STRUCTURE AND ANATOMY OF BUGS. These methods offer great ways to explore basic bug anatomy, segmentation, and more…
- Read How to Build an Insect (by Roberta Gibson) and then create your own playdough insects (from A Little Pinch of Perfect) along with these free printable beautiful bugs playdough mats from Picklebums.
- Build a bug with this clever Lego insect anatomy lesson from Stir the Wonder.
- Make a 3D butterfly model from Steamsational
- Create a moving model with this anatomy of a ladybug project from Go Science Kids
STUDY SPECIES TRAITS THROUGH GAMES
- Mimic bug behaviors with these DIY insect movement dice from Taming Little Monsters
- Explore bug safety mechanisms with an insect camouflage game from Rainy Day Mum
LEARN ABOUT INSECT LIFE CYCLES
- Free printable general insect life cycle worksheet from Hodge Podge Hippie
- Free printable butterfly life cycle pop-up book from Left Brain Craft Brain
- A 3D life cycle of a bee from Steamsational
- Ladybug life cycle craft from Go Science Kids
- Free printable insect, worm, snail & spider life cycle cut & pastes from Homeschool Giveaways
CELEBRATE INSECTS WITH ARTS & CRAFTS
These fun kids’ bug crafts combine art and science for fun projects you easily can use in tandem with a lesson or as an insect learning activity all on their own!
- RECREATE BUG PATTERNS IN ART. Learn about insect symmetry by making melted crayon butterflies or practice patterns with a butterfly mask. Create your own fun patterns with these 3D mixed media bugs from ART CAMP.
- EXPLORE BUG BEHAVIORS THROUGH CRAFTS. These pop bottle fireflies from One Little Project light up and glow just like the real thing! Our DIY clothespin cicadas cling onto branches and jumping jack bugs from Handmade Charlotte flutter their wings. Revisit an old trick with this growing caterpillar (from Cara Florence‘s Instagram). Make bugs sail through the air with these fun summer straw shooters (from Red Ted Art) and bug bouncers from Bloesom Kids.
- MAKE A BEAUTIFUL BUG HOME. Build a giant painted stick web from Brainy Beginnings Network or try this artistic bug hotel art invitation from Tiny3rds’ Instagram.
- CONSTRUCT A FAUX BUG COLLECTION. Create a set of nature art bugs from The Craft Train, make a wall of (cuddly) moth softies from ART CAMP, or build these fun bug specimen displays from Camp!
*A note about affiliate links: We strive to use simple, earth-friendly supplies that can be purchased locally whenever we can, but sometimes we find the best universally available options, a rare eco-friendly find, or a niche product only available on Amazon or Woodpecker Crafts. When included in our supply list, these products are affiliate links, and if you click-through to make a purchase, we receive a small commission that helps us re-order these supplies!