My kids are energetic. Very energetic. I think most happy, healthy kids are – but it’s good to slow them down sometimes and help them to notice life’s little things. One way we like to do this outside is to go on a bug hunt. There are interesting insects and other small creatures all around, but often we don’t notice them because we are too busy. Open your child’s eyes to the wonder of bugs!
Although you can go on a bug hunt with nothing but a pair of eyes, kids often respond more enthusiastically when they have a few “tools” to use. You might even like to make up a bug-kit for your child, with some of the following items.
- Magnifying glass – for looking up close. Even young kids enjoy the magic of magnification.
- Camera or smart phone – our tech savvy kids are quite used to having Mum’s phone on hand to take photos of interesting things! This is a good way to let them have a go at taking photos independently.
- Notebook and pencil – older children may like to make a list (words or pictures) of the insects they find.
- Tweezers – not for bugs!! These can be useful for gently lifting up leaves and bark from the ground to reveal creatures hidden underneath. Great activity for developing fine motor skills too.
- Bug catcher – Depending on what your kids find, they may want to put an insect into a bug catcher to observe more closely. Unless we are sure an insect is safe to touch, we put critters into the bug catcher by picking up the leaf or stick they are on, rather than picking up the bug. I encourage my kids to release any creatures they have caught at the end of the day.
Activities like this also provide an opportunity for conversations about nature. Try asking some of these questions when your child discovers an interesting critter. Remember that open ended questions require your child to think at a higher level, and create much richer discussions.
- What colour is it?
- How many legs does it have?
- Where did you find it?
- Is it bigger or smaller than your fingernail?
Open Ended Questions
- Is it similar to any other bugs you have seen? In what way?
- If you were a scientist in charge of naming this creature, what would you call it?
- What do you think it eats? Why?
- What do you think might eat IT?
- Do you think the babies and adults of this bug look the same as each other, or different. Why do you think that?
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