Insects are fascinating. Did you know that a bug is a type of insect? I always thought that bug was the overreaching term for insect, but I was wrong. What makes an insect a bug is the type of mouth it has. Where did I learn this important piece of information you might ask? An encyclopedia? Try again. A consult with an entomologist? Nope. The Internet? Nota. It was from Fly Guy of course. He would know.
We have been spending the last few weeks learning about insects and have compiled the ultimate insect unit study. Check it out!
Above are a few of the must-have items we used during our insect unit. Hoover on the picture above to match up the name. NOTE: We use affiliate links.
1. Bug Catcher 2. Magnifying Glasses 3. Sight Word Stories: Bugs Pack (Scholastic Reading Club, find out how homeschoolers can join) 4. Celebrate Spring Pattern Cards and Counters (Scholastic Reading Club)
5. Fly Guy Presents: Insects 6. Little Kids First Big Book of Bugs 7. My First Microscope 8. Geoworld Bug's Collection 9. Shapes Don't Bug Me Activity Set (also available through Scholastic Reading Club)
- Inspect insects! We found several ways to do this: take a magnifying glasses outside to inspect insects in their natural habitat, inspect a preserved collection of bugs, look at websites with insects, or visit an insect museum.
- Grab a sketchpad and draw the insects inspected.
- Pick an insect that is most interesting to you and learn all about them. The kiddos picked ladybugs so we researched them by getting books from the library. The Little Kids First Big Book of Bugs was a good reference for picking the insect. I became enamored with the Rhinoceros Beetle after seeing it in Bugs! A Rainforest Adventure (see Media section for more info.) I mean who couldn't love a face like that?
- Become an entomologist with real bugs in this Geoworld Bug's World Collection. Fantastic addition to any homeschool! We went to these over and over again during our unit study. They looked awesome on a light table and of course through a beginner microscope.
- Sculpt insects out of air dry clay and then paint them.
- Grow your own ladybugs with Insect Lore Ladybug Land. Ladybug's are great for the garden! We've had good success with Lore bug kits including the Live Butterfly Kit.
- Make an insect collage by cutting pictures out of magazines.
- Go bug catching! We used our Bug Catcher to set up an inviting area by adding grass and flowers. The kiddos had great success in catching all sorts of insects.
- Email an entomologist and ask for questions or pictures. We found Ask an Entomologist.
- For math lessons, our preschooler used her Celebrate Spring Pattern Cards and Counters. The older kiddo spent hours playing with her Shapes Don't Bug Me Activity Set.
- Make insect art using paper scraps. We used the Blick Art Bug lesson.
- Most insects have compound eyes. Compound eyes have hundreds or thousands of little parts that allow the insects to detect fast movement like their food. What insects see through their compound eyes looks similar to a pixilated image. The kiddos were pretty into this, so we created a set of sorting cards - Insect vs. Human. Download our FREE Insect Eyes Sorting Cards.
- Insects + Water Beads: dump plastic insects (check dollar store) into water beads and have kiddos search for them. Try blindfolding or putting them in a tub to find with their feet for extra icky feel factor.
- Insects + Sand/Mud/Soil: mix plastic insects into dirt and have kiddos dig them all out. Put them deep in the dirt so they really have to dig. Shovel optional.
- Smelling Jars: set up a smelling jar station to demonstrate how insects use odor as a defense method. They do this to ward off predators. Our smelling jar station is similar to a Montessori Smelling Bottle lesson, but we include one item that smells off to imply the prey insect smell. Typically in Montessori you only include those that smell pleasant. Use essential oils or extracts on cotton balls in jars. Put things that smell sweet in three. We used vanilla, citrus, and sweet almond extract. Make one a not sweet or strong smelling jar. This will be your "bad" or off smell. Do something your kiddos don't like the smell of. I used strong peppermint, but eucalyptus oil might be a good one. I don't think they make skunk extract.
- Fly Guy Presents: Insects (This has been our fave! We love all Fly Guy books.)
- Little Kids First Big Book of Bugs (Excellent reference book!)
- Stinky Bugs
- On Beyond Bugs! All About Insects
- Bugs Galore
- Flight of the Honey Bee (We enjoyed learning about bees with this super informational book.)
- The Best Book of Bugs
- Some Bugs
- Bugs are Insects
- Ant Cities
- Busy Bugs A Book About Patterns
- Hello, Bugs! (This one was more for the babe, but the older kiddos liked it, too.)
- The Bugliest Bug
- From Caterpillar to Butterfly
- A Ladybug's Life
- Are You a Ladybug
- Bugs and Buttons, Bugs and Buttons 2, Bug Mazing, and Bug Art. These are all great learning apps by Little Bit Studio, LLC. Predictably the kiddos like the Bug Art app best. Available on iTunes, too.
- Turn on music and act out the life cycle of a butterfly. We did this twice. Once we used our play tunnel and the other time we used crepe paper as the chrysalis. The kids loved both ways. Any chance they can add drama to things they are way into it.
- When insects end up in our house, we often try to transport them out of the house by enclosing them with a cup and piece of paper. We created a "Safe Insect Transport" game similar to this process. We laid a big bunch of plastic insects on the ground. I handed a plastic cup and a piece of paper to each kiddo. They raced to scoop up as many insects as possible and transport them outdoors.