Bugs! Most little learners are fascinated with bugs, even if they gross them out. Kids have fun watching and touching these tiny, fast-moving critters that fly or crawl. Capitalize on their fascination and do a bug theme in your classroom. I’m here to help you pack your lesson plans with FUN and fabulous buggy-themed activities that your little learners (aka preschool, pre-k, or kindergarten kiddos) will LOVE.
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Check all my Bug-Themed Printables (centers, dramatic play, science) from my TPT store HERE!
Caterpillar Patterns! Caterpillars are perfect for so many math activities (counting, measuring, patterns). I created these FREE Caterpillar Pattern Mats and Worksheets you can use in your classroom. You can use them two ways: 1) Students make the caterpillar pattern with pom poms or glass gems, or 2) Use them as a worksheet, and students create the patterns with dot daubers.
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Bee Hive Counting! Make a beehive by drizzling yellow paint and hot glue all over an egg carton (this one is from Sams). Students roll a die, count out the corresponding number of mini eraser bees or pollen (yellow pom poms), and place it in the beehive. If you want to sneak in more fine motor work, have students use tweezers to count out the pollen and bees.
Bee 2D Shape Match! These bees need to find their corresponding hives. Students simply match the shaped bees to the matching beehive.
Buggy Ten Frame Math Mats! Ten frame mats are one of my go-to morning table time activities because they are low prep, hands-on, and my students love them. Laminate the mats or place them in a dry-erase pocket. Students can trace the number and number word! Use mini erasers or bingo clips to fill in the ten frame mats.
Ladybug Math Craft! Ladybugs are the perfect bug for counting and adding (this craft also has an addition option). Students cut out all the pieces and then assemble the ladybug. They pick a number, count out the corresponding number of dots and write the number on the body! These would make the cutest bulletin board too.
Bug Play Dough Tray! My students went bonkers for this bug play dough tray! They enjoyed hiding and creating little buggy habitats for the bugs. I think the worms were their favorite; you can find them in the fishing section at Walmart (just make sure they do NOT have hooks in them). Then add green gems (Dollar Tree), circle cookie cutter, oval cookie cutter, pebbles (Dollar Tree), bugs, plastic plants (Dollar Tree), a mini rolling pin (Walmart), and green and brown play dough. Your kiddos will be exercising and strengthening those fine motor muscles in no time!
Caterpillar Name Craft! Name crafts are one of my new favorite things (besides play dough trays). It’s a fun way to practice scissor skills and name writing because what kid doesn’t absolutely love activities with his/her name? If your students need extra support cutting, have them use these loop scissors that bounce back open. Using supports such as loop scissors, all of your students can do the craft independently (or almost independently).
Bug Letter and Sound Writing Tray! Writing trays are a FUN way for students to practice writing and making letters. This tray has dried peas, which is meant to represent grass. Students pick an uppercase letter card and find the matching lowercase letter and initial sound. Then they write the letter in the tray and build it with insect mini erasers. This hands-on activity is so much more fun and engaging than worksheets!
Just a note – I only put out about 1/3 of the alphabet bug cards for this activity so it wouldn’t be overwhelming for my kiddos.
Bug Syllable Sort! Glue the bug cards on green popsicle sticks and make little grass cups (fill with dried peas) for a fun buggy syllable game. Students count out the number of syllables in the word and stick it in the matching cup.
Bug Writing Table! If your students LOVE legos as much as mine do, they will LOVE building words with letter legos from Lakeshore Learning. I always try to put something new or a new writing tool at the writing table to keep it exciting. These insect word cards are the best because they have real photographs of bugs on them! The green bucket has insect fine motor strips which students can trace or cut for some fun fine motor work.
Bug Bookshelf! Friends, there are just so many wonderful bug books available that it’s hard to pick which ones will go on the shelf! My new favorite is Bug Zoo, and I have a giant list of my favorite bug books HERE.
Bug Sensory Table! Fill the sensory table with black beans, real dirt, or rubber mulch (Lowes has it) for your bug theme! Then add bug counters, worms, plastic jars, tiny shovels or rakes, fake leaves, and handy scoops.
Butterfly Symmetry Smash Art! Butterflies are a fun way to explore symmetry for little learners. Cut out butterflies from construction paper by folding them in half. Then students squirt paint on one half of the butterfly, fold it together and smash it! When they open the butterfly, it will be the same on both sides. Once it’s dry, add some pipe cleaners antennas. The small paint bottles are from Discount School Supply.
Bug Stamp Art! Explore the parts of an insect in the art center. Insects have three body parts (head, thorax, abdomen), six legs, and two antennas. Students stamp the balloons to create the three body parts, then draw the legs and antennas with black oil pastels. Use green oils pastels to draw grass around the insects. If you don’t want to use balloons or can’t use balloons, use stress balls or circle sponges.
Bug Science! There are many insects you can bring into your classroom for an insect theme, like ants, ladybugs, or butterflies. Bringing live insects into the classroom gives students the opportunity to observe the insects closely, from how they move, to what they eat, and even observe parts of the life cycle of the insect. I typically only do one live insect each year in my classroom. You can build on the bug science theme by placing plastic insects, life cycle posters, parts of the insect posters, books, vocabulary cards, magnifying glasses, and discovery pages at the table.
Insects are so tiny and may be difficult to see. No problem! During small group time, I will place the insect habitat on the floor for students to observe. They lay on their bellies to observe the insect while they share what they notice, see, and wonder about. Then they draw something they observed just like real scientists!
Insect Block Center and STEM! Place Spring STEM I Can Build Cards, plastic insects, fake leaves, rocks, tree rings, fake flowers, and books about insects in the blocks center. New props will challenge students to extend their block play by planning and building NEW things related to insects!
Check out this bug building a little friend made! He said it was the “bug’s house deep in the forest.”
I hope you have found many exciting ideas to pack your lesson plans full of tons of engaging insect activities for your little learners! If you want all the Insect Math and Literacy Centers, you can grab them HERE from my TPT store!
If you want the All About Insect or All About Butterflies, click the covers below, and it will take you right to my TPT store! They are both packed with tons of real photographs, vocabulary cards, posters, anchor charts, activities, parent notes, and teacher pages with photos of the units in action to help you set up your classroom!
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