Most moms like me don’t care for insects, especially in the home but for some reason, certain ‘beautiful’ bugs, like ladybugs and butterflies get a pass because we humans consider them pretty. Either way, you can use insects to help introduce your child to biology and entomology, which is the science part of the acronym, for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (S.T.E.M.).
One way that children can learn about bugs is through an old fashioned ant farm. You can do this at little or no cost with two jars (one large and one small), some sand, and by collecting a few ants from anywhere outside, just avoid fire ants because they sting.
Watching how insects build homes, and in the case of ants, watching them dig tunnels and mazes can be fascinating. Discuss the hierarchy of a colony and about helpers with your child. Children should be able to identify the various parts of the insects they are studying by the time you release the insects outside.
If you’re not a huge fan of ants, the company Insect Lore has farms with ladybugs, and another with butterflies that you can purchase via Amazon.com. There are a few types of insect farms, one comes with live ladybugs or caterpillar larvae, and another wher you can redeem the insects and larvae via an online form at insectlore.com.
Compliment this lesson by talking about change and the four stages of the butterfly’s life cycle from egg, to larva, pupa, and to an adult butterfly. Use new words like, “chrysalis. Ask your child “If you could change into anything you wanted, what would that be?” Then you answer that question too. Read Eric Carle’s, The Very Hungry Caterpillar to continue the lesson. Insect Lore also sells The Very Hungry Caterpillar themed butterfly farm.
If you don’t want to collect ants or butterflies, there is also a similar kit for growing ladybugs. Have fun discovering these cute little beetles.
FUN FACT: The ladybug larvae resemble tiny black alligators.
Be sure to conclude your bug S.T.E.M. lesson with releasing the insects outside and consider showing your chil the Disney movie, “A Bug’s Life” just for fun!
Publisher/Early Childhood Specialist
This article contains affiliate links.