Many preschoolers enjoy the chance to observe insects as they scurry around outside, or creep across the classroom or living room floor. Turn that curiosity about the six-legged bugs into a learning opportunity. There are many ways to build excitement about insects, as well as teach preschoolers a thing or two behind the science of the creepy crawlies. Don't just tell the children about insects, however. Plan a few hands-on activities that will encourage their fascination and entice them to learn more about the creatures.
Show the preschoolers a variety of pictures of insects, spiders and other animals. Ask them to point out the ones that are insects as opposed to spiders and other animals. This is a good way to teach preschoolers that insects have six legs. Point out the head, abdomen and thorax of each insect to teach students the different parts that they can look for to determine if a creepy crawly is indeed an insect.
Take the preschoolers outside and help them each catch a bug, such as an ant or beetle. Place the bugs in individual clear plastic cups. Allow the children to place blades of grass or small plants in the cups to create homes for the insects. Give each student a magnifying glass and encourage them to make observations about their insect. Ask the students to share some of their observations, which will reinforce the facts that insects have six legs, are small, and have a head, abdomen and thorax. After the lesson, release the bugs.
Staple several pieces of blank paper together to make books. Ask each preschooler to draw three or four different insects, reminding them to include six legs and the three different parts of each. Let the children share their drawings with the class, pointing out the legs, head, abdomen and thorax. This activity helps reinforce what preschoolers have learned about how many legs insects have, what different insects look like and where each body part is located.
Give preschoolers a variety of craft supplies and encourage them to make their own insect. Perhaps egg carton sections could be the three parts of an insect and pipe cleaners could be used to make the six legs. Scissors, glue, colored paper, paint, beads, buttons and sequins are additional materials that preschoolers could use to create their own insects. This exercise can help you assess what preschoolers remember about insects from your classroom lessons, such as how many legs insects have.
Play insect charades. Ask each preschooler to think of their favorite insect. Invite the children, one at a time, to act out their insect, such as stinging someone if the insect is a bee, or building a tunnel if the insect is an ant. Encourage the other children to guess what each insect is. This activity provides a visual way for students to remember what makes an insect an insect, and to prove that they have indeed learned something about the different parts of insects.
Items you will need
- Pictures of insects, spiders and other animals such as a dog and cat
- Small clear cups
- Magnifying glasses
- Assorted craft supplies
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