Bugs are a fact of life and many toddlers are fascinated by them. You might discover them in your toddler’s pocket or find him leaving crumbs on the sidewalk to feed them. Take advantage of his curiosity and desire to know more about bugs by creating a lesson plan you can use in small increments, especially with the bug season is in full swing.
If your little one enjoys crafts, you can use that to teach her about bug metamorphosis. Your toddler can create a caterpillar using an egg carton with a pipe cleaner poked through the side of each cup for legs. Add two more pipe cleaners poked into the top of the front cups to form the antennae. She can draw bug eyes with a crayon and decorate it with stickers or nontoxic finger paints. To create a chrysalis, wrap tissue paper around a small wad of paper and glue the tissue paper together. Attach it to a twig and hang it out of reach. The final transformation is a butterfly. Use pipe cleaners to form each of the four butterfly wing sections and a piece of tightly rolled paper creased in three sections to form the head, thorax and abdomen. Place the sections in the correct orientation and cover the butterfly with clear contact paper. Allow your toddler to stick small bits of tissue paper to the contact paper to create colorful wing sections. Finish the butterfly by adding small pipe cleaners to form the six legs and antennae.
Songs and Stories
There are several songs your toddler can use in his bug lessons. Consider singing “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” “Fuzzy Caterpillar,” “Baby Bumblebee” and “The Ants go Marching” during your bug lessons. Teach your little one the finger plays and motions that go with these songs. Supplement your lessons with books such as “Where Butterflies Grow” by Joanne Ryder, Eric Carle’s “Very Hungry Caterpillar” and “I Like Bugs” by Margaret Wise Brown.
Your toddler can observe bugs in a natural habitat. Take a walk through the garden and point out bees and other flying insects pollinating flowers or observe ants in an ant farm. Walk along a creek and turn over rocks and branches to watch the insects scatter. Ensure that your little one only touches bugs your tell him are safe. A trip to the zoo will offer many insects your toddler can’t touch or bring home in his pocket.
Your toddler can learn that bugs get around in many different ways. Tell her, “Crawl like a caterpillar” or “Flutter like a butterfly.” Choose various insects to emulate such as crickets, ants and spiders. She can try to buzz like a bee or chirp like a cricket. Give her a scarf and let her pretend to be a bee, firefly or butterfly.