8 Absolutely Awesome way to Discover Bugs with Toddlers

8 Absolutely Awesome ways to Discover Bugs with Toddlers

8 absolutely awesome ways to discover bugs with toddlers- Do you want to explore the world of bugs with your child, but need some inspiration? Or maybe the thought of creepy, crawley, leggy creatures make you squirm? 

Perfect! I’ve compiled a list of 8 absolutely awesome ways to discover bugs with toddlers- and you won’t even have to touch a bug! 

bugs on a log activity

Activity Sneak Peek

  • Identify and draw a picture of each bug your child can name
  • Go on a nature walk and “capture” bugs 
  • Read a book about bugs together. (See our book list below)
  • Make “Ants on a log” as a simple snack
  • Decorate rocks to looks like bugs
  • Caterpillar craft with your child’s name 
  • Homemade gummy worm recipe
  • Play the sticky spider web game 

8 absolutely awesome ways to discover bugs with toddlers.

We recently explored the wonderful world of bugs with our children and want to share the activities we did during our “bug week”.

If you have already subscribed to my blog you’ll know that we are following the Exploring Nature with Children nature study with our toddler. In the curriculum, this week is called “Minibeast Week”.

Sounds adorable, right? Minibeast is the English way of saying “bug” (the curriculum is based in the UK). We’ve decided to use the term bug rather than minibeast as it’s the more common term here in Canada. 

Discovering a caterpillar on our nature walk.
Discovering a caterpillar on our nature walk.

The world of bugs is intricate and unique, and one I was excited to share with our children. I find insects fascinating and many of them are quite beautiful. I am however, not the biggest fan of spiders. 

Yes, yes, I know. Spiders are gentle and help keep other bugs out of your home, but I can’t help but feel creeped out by the way they move. This is something I’m working on.

I don’t want to cause Amelia to develop a fear because she sees me screeching at the sight of a spider. So, I’m doing my best to show interest rather than fear when we discover an eight-legged friend at home. 

Honeybee collecting pollen from a Butternut Squash flower
Honeybee collecting pollen from a Butternut Squash flower

One of the most exciting parts of exploring bugs with our children is that most of the time we didn’t have to go out and search for them. Many of the bugs we observed were found as we were going about our normal day.

  • We saw 2 caterpillars while on a walk and helped them cross the road. 
  • Observed a honeybee in one of the squash flowers while harvesting the squash. 
  • Discovered a stick bug camouflaging to the bark of a tree as we hung laundry on the clothesline.
  • Watched a spider build a web while we played on the deck. 

Okay, let’s get to it! Now I’ll recap what we did for our “Bug Week” by sharing 8 absolutely awesome ways to discover bugs with toddlers.

Moving a caterpillar to a safer spot
Moving a caterpillar to a safer spot

1. Identify/Draw the Bugs you Know

Amelia could name a number of bugs before we began our “bug week”. The first activity we did was make a list of the bugs she already knew about. 

These bugs were ones that we have seen outdoors, in books that we have read, and a few we have seen in the house too. As we brainstormed, we drew a picture of each bug on the chalkboard. 

Creating this list of familiar bugs allowed us to discuss what this week’s theme will be and get excited about exploring the bugs that share our space. 

Decorating the chalkboard with familiar bugs
Decorating the chalkboard with familiar bugs

2. Nature Walk and Bug “Collection”

Throughout the week we went on various nature walks on our property and down the road to discover the different bugs that live nearby. 

Each time we found a new bug we would try to “capture” it for our collection. And by capture…  I mean with a camera. Amelia loves to take pictures, so she had a lot of fun with this activity. 

Once we got home we were able to look through our collection of pictures, try to identify bugs we were unfamiliar with, and show off the collection to others. 

I recommend capturing your bugs with a camera instead of actually collecting the bugs with your young children. Many of the bugs we discovered were quite fragile and we want to ensure that no living creature is harmed while exploring nature. 

3. Be a Bookworm!

“Some bugs sting, some bugs bite, some bugs stink, and some bugs fight!” Amelia’s favourite bug book is Some Bugs and she can basically recite the whole thing.

The book shows off the diverse world of bugs with fun rhyming text and cute illustrations. At the back of the book there’s a gallery of bugs with their names. Amelia likes to use it as a little reference guide as we flip back and forth through the book to identify the bugs shown.

Here’s a list of a few other favourite bug related books in our home:

4. Make a Tasty Bug Snack 

The initial plan was to make the classic “ants on a log” snack using celery, peanut butter and raisins. We ended up not having celery at the time, so we improvised!

Our version ended up as red ants on a log.

Red ants on a log: banana, almond butter and goji berries
Red ants on a log: banana, almond butter and goji berries

We used a banana sliced lengthwise as our log and spread a little almond butter on each banana log. Amelia chose to use goji berries as our ants instead of raisins. And there you have it. Red ants on a log. 

5. Create a Rock Bug Display

For this activity, we collected a variety of rocks while on a nature walk. Amelia chose rocks of different shapes and textures.

She then decorated the rocks with markers and I helped cut out wings and antennae from cardstock. 

Decorating the rock bugs with coloured markers
Decorating the rock bugs with coloured markers

Amelia helped glue the wings and antennae onto the rocks and they turned into the cutest little bugs! We wanted to display them in some way, so we found a piece of driftwood outdoors to use as a nice perch for our bugs. 

We kept the driftwood with bugs on display throughout the week, but ended up gluing the rock bugs onto the wood so they wouldn’t keep hopping off. 

Rock bugs on driftwood.
Rock bugs on driftwood.

6. Caterpillar Name Craft

For our bug related craft this week we made a name caterpillar! This was an easy and fun craft to do with Amelia and allowed for continuous learning opportunities during the week.

I helped trace and cut circles out of coloured paper and Amelia glued them together to make the body of the caterpillar. We used letter blocks to help Amelia name the letters in her name and I wrote the letters onto the body of the caterpillar. 

Identifying the letters on her name caterpillar
Identifying the letters on her name caterpillar

We displayed the caterpillar on the wall and Amelia referred back to it throughout the week. She would tell me:

  • What colours she could see on the caterpillar. 
  • Count how many legs it had. 
  • What letters were on the body of the caterpillar.
  • That the letters spell out Amelia!

7. Make Gummy Worms!

I’ve wanted to make elderberry gummies for a while now and with a fresh batch of elderberry syrup in the fridge and incentive to explore bugs this week, I couldn’t resist the opportunity. 

Jiggling the elderberry gummy worms
Jiggling the elderberry gummy worms

These were quite simple to make (even without an actual mold) and with their wriggly jigglyness, were also great for sensory play. 

Elderberry Gummy Worms

Serving Size:
5
Time:
10 minutes
Difficulty:
Easy
Elderberry gummy worms
Elderberry gummy worms

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup gelatin powder
  • 1 cup elderberry syrup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • approx. 25 plastic straws to use as a mold.
  • tall glass or jar

Directions

  1. Place the straws into the glass so they fit tightly.
  2. Heat the syrup and water in a saucepan and remove from heat once it reaches a boil.
  3. Add the gelatin powder to the syrup mixture and stir well.
  4. Pour mixture into straws and place glass in fridge for at least 2 hours (or until set).
  5. Squeeze one end of each straw to push the gummy worm out.

Tip: Run each straw under warm water for a couple seconds to make the gummy worm slip right out!

8. Sticky Spider Web Activity 

Throwing "bugs" into the spider web
Throwing “bugs” into the spider web

For this activity you will need:

  • Painter’s tape
  • Crumpled newspaper, cotton balls and anything else you would like to throw into the spider web!

I planned to do this when Brooks was napping because it’s interactive, but not too loud of an activity to do while he sleeps. Plus, I had visions of him popping cotton balls into his mouth like Buddy from the movie Elf…

We strung painter’s tape up in a doorway to look like a spider web, with the sticky side facing us.

Rescuing the "bugs" caught in the spider web
Rescuing the “bugs” caught in the spider web

Next, we collected items to use as “bugs” and tossed them at the web to learn how some spider’s use their webs to catch their food.

Cotton balls stuck the best, and Amelia enjoyed rescuing the cotton ball bugs from the spider web after they got stuck.

8 absolutely awesome ways to discover bugs with toddlers

That concludes the activities we did this week. I hope you enjoyed learning 8 absolutely awesome ways to discover bugs with toddlers!

If you found inspiration here, then be sure to check out last week’s blog Why Fall is the BEST Time for Exploring Seeds with Children!

What is your favourite way of discovering bugs with your children?

Be sure to follow play and pinecones on Instagram and Pinterest!