Insects are a class of living creatures within the arthropods that have a chitinous exoskeleton, a three-part body (head, thorax, and abdomen), three pairs of jointed legs, compound eyes, and two antennae. They are among the most diverse groups of animals on the planet, include more than a million described species, and represent more than half of all known living organisms.
Activity: Dress an insect
What are the characteristics of an insect? Have a student stand up to be dressed as an insect. Put each part of the costume on the child and name the parts.
- Three body parts: head, thorax, abdomen
- Antennae: put antennae on the child’s head. Used for sensing, smelling, feeling, and sometimes taste.
- Eyes: have child put on bug eyes. Compound eyes are made up of many small lenses. Insects see a thousand of small pictures of an object and not one large picture like humans do.
- Mouth parts: Have child hold the different mouth types. All insects have different kinds of mouth parts. Pull out the different objects and have the students guess what kind of insect has that type of mouth part.
- Sponge: flies have large mouth parts that help them soak up food
- Syringe: mosquitoes have sharp mouth parts that allow them to get under the skin
- Pliers: grasshoppers have strong mouth parts to chew grasses. This is a good example of how insect mouth parts move side to side and not up and down like humans.
- Party blower: butterflies have long mouth parts that reach to the back of the flowers for nectar and they roll up when finished.
- Thorax: six legs. Insects have six legs, not eight.
- Thorax: Wings. Many insects have four wings, although some don’t.
- Abdomen: some insects have ears on their abdomens or spiracles which are small holes in the side of the abdomen so insects can breathe.
After dressing an insect, sing the insect song.
(Sung to Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes with actions)
Head, Thorax, abdomen, abdomen
Head, Thorax, abdomen, abdomen
2 Antennae, 2 eyes, 4 wings, 6 legs
Head, Thorax, Abdomen, Abdomen
Repeat the song several times, going faster and faster
Activity: Catching Insects
Using insect nets take the children outside and allow them to catch insects. Adults may need to help the children get the insects into plastic jars. The kids can enjoy and observe their insects in the jar and then let them go later in the day.
Activity: Camo Bugs
Discuss the importance of camouflage with your children. Go to a grassy area. Throw “bugs” all around with the children watching. Bugs can be plastic bugs, pieces of colorful yarn, or different colors of macaroni. Have the children find as many bugs as possible. Hiding the bugs in grass under the dappled shade of a tree makes the hunting a little more difficult. After all the bugs have been found, discuss which ones were the most difficult to see and why.
Activity: Micro Hike
Cut hole in middle of sheet. Have kids lie in a circle around the hole and explore with hand lenses. Can you find ants? Seeds? Rocks? Flowers?
Activity: Take a Hike
Look for creepy crawlies. Underneath old logs and rocks are great places to look. Don’t forget to watch out for poison ivy. Leaflets, three, let it be!
Many insects like mosquitoes, dragonflies and mayflies lay their eggs in the water. Take a walk around the pond and watch the baby insect.
Activity: Busy Bug Headbands
Have the children cut out two strips of paper that when connected will fit around their head. Connect the strips with glue or tape, (staples will catch the child’s hair). Supply the children with two pipe cleaners…and have them shape them however they want to and tape them on the inside of the headbands.
Activity: Buggy Wuggy
Do the Hokey Pokey dance with the children but substitute the parts of an insect or spider for the human parts. For example: “Put your feelers or antennae in, put your wings in, put your stingers in, your backbones, your legs, etc.
(to the tune Are You Sleeping?)
Big bugs, little bugs,
Big bugs, little bugs,
See them crawl,
On the log.
The life cycle of the ladybug is between four to six weeks. In the spring the adults lay up to three hundred eggs in an aphid colony. The eggs hatch in two to five days. The newly hatched larvae feed on aphids for up to three weeks, and then they enter the pupa stage. The adult ladybug emerges about a week later. However, they usually do not have their spots for their first 24 hours of adulthood. So, if you catch one in your schoolyard without spots, you may have found a brand new adult. There may be as many as six generations of ladybugs hatched in a year. The Asian Ladybird beetle can live 2-3 years and often gather in homes during the winter.
Activity: Dress a ladybug
What are the characteristics of a ladybug? Have a student stand up to be dressed as an insect. Put each part of the costume on the child and name the parts.
Activity: Ladybug Vest
Using a large paper grocery bag, cut the bag open along the seam (this will be the back of the costume). Then cut a neck hole in what was the bottom of the bag. Cut an arm hole on each side of the bag. Paint a large red circle (using red washable paint) on the front of the bag and let dry. Draw or paint a black line down the center of the circle and draw black spots on both sides. To make cute antennae, wrap two pipe cleaners on a plastic headband.
Activity: Luck Ladybugs
Did you know?
- They are also called ladybird beetles
- Aphids are a ladybug’s favorite food
- They come in all different colors, like yellow and orange
- They can have any number of spots (each has a different #)
- Are great garden friends (they eat lots of aphids)
- You can buy ladybugs for your garden
- You need to water the garden then let those ladybugs go (in the evening) and they will stay as long as there is food for them.
Activity: Mini Bug House
Have children paint a bug house (3″ x 1.5″ Round paper mache bug house with screen from craft store). Let dry. Decorate with markers, wiggle eyes, stickers, etc. Children can catch and observe ladybugs, encourage children to let their insect go after observation.
Activity: Bug House
Use an empty 20 ounce soda bottle…color several pictures of bugs. Have children put their paper bugs into their soda bottle. Instant bug home!
Activity: Ladybug Matching
Make ladybugs from red and black poster board. Draw spots on the ladybugs so that you have two cards with the same pattern on each. Let the children match the ladybugs.
Activity: Ladybug Game
Play “Duck, Duck, Goose” game only using ladybug, ladybug, aphid. Ladybugs eat aphids and are good for gardens.
Activity: Diapause (ladybug hibernation)
Diapause is the insect version of hibernation. It is thought that ladybugs engage in this activity to conserve resources and to facilitate reproduction. Ladybugs gather in places such as tree trunks, logs, ground cover, buildings, and sometimes in people’s homes when temperatures drop below 55 degrees. Ladybugs require heat acquired from their environment to maintain and regulate their body temperature.
Activity: Ladybug Paperweights
Take the children on a walk to find ladybug shaped rocks. Have the children paint their rocks red. Allow the paint to dry. Let each child use a black felt tip marker to draw a line and several dots on his or her painted rock. Glue felt to the bottoms of the ladybug paperweights.
Activity: Ladybug Prints
Have the children press their thumbs on red stamp pads or red paint and make thumbprints on pieces of white paper. Then let them turn their thumbprints into ladybugs by adding dots and six legs to each one with black markers.
Songs and Poems
The traditional poem is still repeated by children today, but many say it got its beginnings in medieval folklore and referred to the burning of hops vines to clear away the fields after harvest. The ladybugs would fly away, and the larvae would crawl away, but the pupa would remain fastened to the vine and burn.
Ladybug! Ladybug! Fly away home;
Your house is on fire, your children all gone;
All but one, and her name is Ann,
And she crept under the pudding pan.
Jump Rope Song
Ladybug, ladybug, turn around
Ladybug, ladybug, touch the ground
Ladybug, ladybug, read the news
Ladybug, ladybug, go upstairs
Ladybug, ladybug, say your prayers
Ladybug, ladybug, turn on the lights
Ladybug, ladybug, say goodnight
Five little ladybugs, climbing on some plants
Eating the aphids, but not the ants
The first one said, “save some aphids for me”
The second one said, “these are as tasty as can be”
The third one said, “oh, they’re almost gone”
The fourth one said, “then it’s time to move on”
The fifth one said, “come on lets fly”
So they opened their wings and flew through the sky
Will You Read To Me?
Take time to enjoy a story
Are you a Ladybug? by Judy Allen and Tudor Humphries
What about Ladybugs? by Celia Godkin
The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle
Ten Little Ladybugs by Melanie Gerth and Laura Huliska-Beith
Butterflies are beautiful, flying insects with large scaly wings, like all insects, they have six jointed legs, three body parts, a pair of antennae, compound eyes, and exoskeleton. The butterflies’ body is covered by tiny sensory hairs. Butterflies can only fly if their body temperature is above 86 degrees. Butterflies sun themselves to warm up in cool weather. Butterflies go through metamorphosis or changes. They start as an egg, to larva to pupa or chrysalis to butterfly.
Activity: Dress a Butterfly
What are the characteristics of a butterfly? Have a student stand up to be dresses as an insect. Put each part of the costume on the child and name the parts.
Activity: Caterpillar to Butterfly
Have each child make a caterpillar by gluing several green pom-poms to a spring-type clothespin. Then have them glue wiggle eyes on to one of the pom-poms. The second day, have each child put his caterpillar in a cardboard tube. Direct each child to wrap his tube in yarn to create a cocoon. The third day, have each child take his caterpillar out of its cocoon. Then have them decorate a coffee filter with markers. Pinch the coffee filters onto the clothespin to create a butterfly.
Activity: Observe Live Butterflies
Using insect nets take the children outside and allow them to catch butterflies. It’s recommended that adults put the butterflies into a screened top large aquarium to keep the butterflies inside it. Allow children to observe the butterflies for several days and then let the butterflies go. Be sure to add flowers and a wet sponge for the butterflies to drink.
Activity: Butterfly Wings
Using two cardboard paper rolls per child, bright colored crepe paper. Children can paint both toilet paper rolls green. When dry, cut a slit the length of the toilet paper roll. Children work in pairs — one holds open the painted roll while the other scotch tapes or glues the streamers inside. Slip cuffs on wrists and fly around outside.
To make this cute caterpillar, make a palm print with yellow paint to represent the caterpillar’s head. Use a different color of paint to make each hand print segment of the caterpillar’s body, creating a pattern. When the paint is dry, use a marker to add more legs, eyes, antennae, etc.
Activity: Paper Chain Caterpillar
Using construction paper, cut out 13 strips of paper that are 1 inch by 6 inches, and a 4 inch diameter circle. Show a child how to make a paper chain. Have children color eyes etc. on the circle. Add two small triangles for the jaws (mandibles) of the caterpillar. Glue the head onto the paper chain. Place large green construction paper leaves around the outside. Have caterpillars move around and pretend to eat green leaves.
Activity: Stained Glass Butterflies
Pre-cut a butterfly shape out of construction paper. After cutting out the shape, cut out holes in various spots in the butterfly shape. The children can glue squares of colored tissue paper over the holes. Children can also color and add glitter to their butterfly.
Activity: Butterfly Feeding Station
Make your own feeding station by mashing some ripe fruit (such as bananas or strawberries) in a shallow pan. Add 2-3 teaspoons of sugar or honey and 1/2 cup of a sports drink and stir. Set feeder outside in the flowers or hang from a hook. Observe…do other insects like this sweet treat?
Activity: Butterfly Relay Race
Cut out flower shapes from construction paper. Set or tape the flowers along one wall of the room. Divide children into three or four person relay teams. Have the children stand opposite the wall of flowers. Explain that the goal of the game is to “fly” like butterflies to a flower, tag it, and fly back.
Activity: Very Hungry Caterpillar Craft
Read the book. Adults can cover a clean “Pringles” container with green contact paper. Children can add legs with markers and decorate “caterpillar” with stickers. Give the children a lid covered with red contact paper with a pre-cut hole in the lid for the mouth. The children can add facial features with markers to resemble a caterpillar face. Cut out construction paper food resembling food in the story The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Children retell the story by feeding construction paper food through the hole (mouth) in the lid.
Will You Read To Me?
Take time to enjoy a book.
Starting Life Butterfly by Claire Llewellyn
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Waiting for Wings by Lois Elhert
From Caterpillar to Butterfly by Deborah Heiligman
Butterflies Caterpillars by Melvin Berger
The Crunching Munching Caterpillar by Sheridan Cain & Jack Tickle
Caterpillar Spring Butterfly Summer by Susan Hood & Claudine Gevry
I’m a Butterfly
(tune: pop goes the weasel)
I spin and spin my chrysalis,
Then I go rest inside
When I come out,
I’ve changed indeed
Look! I’m a butterfly!
(tune: Frère Jacques)
Egg, caterpillar, chrysalis
Egg, caterpillar, chrysalis
Flying all around
Flying to the ground
The Fuzzy Caterpillar
(tune: Itsy Bitsy Spider)
The fuzzy caterpillar
Curled up on a leaf,
Spun her little chrysalis
And then fell fast asleep
While she was sleeping
She dreamed that she could fly,
And later when she woke up
She was a butterfly!
Take a Sip
Decorate a cup with a flower pattern, supply straws, and juice. Have the children drink through a straw and pretend it is a butterfly tongue (proboscis).
Using a round cracker or vanilla wafer, have children spread red tinted cream cheese on a cracker or cookie. Use one string of licorice to define the wings, then use raisin or mini chocolate chips for ladybug spots.
- 3 celery legs
- 1 T hummus (or cream cheese or nut butter)
- 6 mini-loop pretzels
- 3 raisins
Cut each celery leg in half (so the pieces are all about three to four inches long). Cut a small sliver off each side of each part of the celery to serve as the antennae. Place the hummus into a small ziploc bag with the corner snipped. Pipe the spread into the groove of each celery piece. Place a pair of mini pretzels together with the round ends up, into the hummus mixture. This represents the wings. Cut each raisin in half and place 2 pieces on one end of each piece of celery to represent the eyes. Take the small pieces of celery and insert them above the eyes to act as the antenna.
Activities provided by:
E Resources Group
2550 Stagecoach Road
Webster City, Iowa 50595-7375
Toddling on the Wild Side was supported by REAP-CEP
Iowa Early Learning Standards:
1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 3.4, 4.2, 5.1, 5.4, 6.1, 6.2, 6.3, 7.3
Related Kindernature Resources: Other Resources: