It happened the afternoon her little sweet boy looked up and quietly asked, “Can we learn about bees?” when the highly allergic homeschool mother fainted on the floor.
Bees. Really? My boys wanted to learn about bees and I wanted absolutely nothing to do with any type of bug lesson. Especially a “hands-on” bug lesson, because I have a highly local reaction to bee stings. Most bug bites cause some type of reaction. But God made bugs, so they are important to learn about the creepy crawly things.
Hands-On Bug Activities
If you like keeping bugs, looking at bugs, or want absolutely nothing to do with 6 legged creatures – here are a few fun hands-on activities everyone can safely enjoy.
1. Bug Collection. Why risk getting stung when you can examine (dead) bugs behind protective thick glass casing? We purchased a 12 bug collection one year and the boys loved playing identification games. The bugs are fully intact and easy to examine with a magnifying glass.
2. Insect Habitat. One of our favorite “bug” activities included raising our own ladybugs. Insect Lore sent us a habitat, larva, and food. Daily we watched as these little bugs turned into beautiful ladybugs. Then we set them free. Insect Lore also offers butterflies and a praying mantis.
3.Modeling Clay. Ready to sculpt your own head, thorax, and abdomen? Sculpt different types of bugs with modeling. Check out The Homeschool Scientist for more information using modeling clay in your science class.
4. Meet the Insects. Download an interactive app on your ipad to learn about insects. At this time there are 3 different Meet the Insects apps: Forest, Grass, and Village (these are not free).
5. Science Fair Project. When my son begged to raise antlions for his Science Fair Project I laughed. He wasn’t joking. Needless to say antlions eat ants which means we had to feed them ants. I am currently teaching a forgetful 13 yr old boy. Wanna guess who remembered to feed the antlions? However, the science fair project required him to dig deeper into information about the benefits of antlions. He learned about pesticides, poisons, organic foods, and natural insect predators. The Science Fair required more than just observing bugs.
6. Catch and Release. Watching bugs dig into the dirt is cool too. Obviously I prefer the “release” part of catch and release. Unlike my boys who love the “catch”. We have a bug container and whenever they find a new insect it’s carefully caught by my oldest and then watched by everyone for the day. I have a firm 24 hour release policy. The boys can sketch the insect and then try to find it in our Insects Field Guide. A normal work-related trip up to West Virginia turned absolutely magical when the boys saw something they had never seen before, fireflies. Giddy with excitement we all ran out into the field and caught fireflies for hours.
7. Field Trip. Zoos, museums, and science centers usually offer great bug exhibits. If you are feeling far more brave than I ever will, visit a bee keeper. My father kept bees and sold honey to the local grocery store when he was a boy. He has such interesting stories to share with his grandsons on how he collected the honey. Arrange for your children to experience that in person.
Bugs are interesting and even though I am not a huge fan of them, I can not allow my fear to squash a learning opportunity.
Stay tuned for more….
Stef Layton lives in Orlando, Florida homeschooling two tactile learners. Stef is the Hands-On Learning Columnist for Homeschooling Today magazine. This year she started showing hands-on activities on youtube. You can follow her at her blog or, Instagram, or Twitter @StefMLayton.