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Busy Bugs. Bugs are everywhere! Children encounter bugs. An Environments Thematic Activity Guide

Busy Bugs An Environments Thematic Activity Guide Bugs are everywhere! Children encounter bugs every day, and they are an easy subject to observe up close. Children will be curious about where bugs live,
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Busy Bugs An Environments Thematic Activity Guide Bugs are everywhere! Children encounter bugs every day, and they are an easy subject to observe up close. Children will be curious about where bugs live, what they eat, how they behave, and how they contribute to the environment. They will want to learn about the many different varieties and to notice likenesses and differences in colors, body shapes, wings, life cycles, behaviors, etc. Follow the interests of the children and expand or contract the activities as needed. Discussions and activities about bugs provide hands-on opportunities for children to reinforce new-found knowledge. Through an extension of the bug theme, a layering of experiences and knowledge occurs that creates depth of understanding and often leads to curiosity about related topics. In addition, when the same theme is introduced in many ways throughout the curriculum, children have more opportunity to discover their own talents and learning styles. How to Use this Thematic Activity Guide What s contained in this guide? This Thematic Activity Guide is written to help you introduce a bug theme across the curriculum. Introductory information will help you understand the value of the theme to the children and provides simple facts and words to broaden the exposure to the theme. Integrated curriculum activities are designed to incorporate the theme into all centers and curriculum areas. The suggestions include activities that will appeal to differing developmental levels and learning styles. To help you adjust the activities to suit the needs of your children and to make your planning easier, space for notes is provided. What materials do I need? Most of the activities and suggestions in this guide use materials and equipment commonly found in the early childhood classroom. Where necessary, you may wish to substitute alternative materials similar to those mentioned in the activities. For your convenience, any suggested items that are available from Environments exclusively are shown in CAPITALS and included in the materials list at the end of this guide. For more information regarding Environments products, call toll free EI. CHILD or visit online at For Additional Thematic Guides: See more thematic guides and other early childhood resources on the Environments Resources Website. Go to A Publication of the Environments Professional Group The Environments Professional Group is a team of educators and designers who come together to make the connection between the needs of early childhood programs and the developmentally appropriate products that meet these needs Environments, Inc. The contents of this publication are copyrighted by Environments, Inc. All rights reserved. Note: Up to 50 copies of this publication may be reproduced for educational use. Reproduction of this or any other Environments publication for commercial use or sale is strictly prohibited. Disclaimer: Environments, Inc., the Environments Professional Group, and Consultants cannot be held responsible for any damage or injury that occurs during the use of or because of activities in this publication. Appropriate caution, reasonable safety precautions, adult supervision of children involved in activities, and supervision corresponding to the age and capability of each child involved are recommended at all times. Do not leave children unattended at any time. Environments, Inc. 159 Bay Pines Road Post Office Box 1348 Beaufort, SC Phone: Fax: En ronments Call toll free EI CHILD Fax toll free EI FAX US Visit online: en ronments.com Busy Bugs An Environments Thematic Activity Guide page 2 Exploring the World of Bugs Whether extracting nectar, spreading pollen, or keeping pests away, insects are crucial to plant growth. These tiny creatures provide the essentials for plant production. Plants sustain animals and people all over the world as well as clean the air we breathe. It is important for children to understand that bugs are not pests, rather that they are beneficial to life in many ways. Simple Theme Facts Not all bugs are insects. Spiders have eight legs, only two body parts, and no antennae. Centipedes have about 70 legs one pair per segment and one pair of antennae. Words to Learn egg larva pupa thorax abdomen wing chrysalis cocoon hive nectar honey pollination antennae metamorphosis Busy Bugs An Environments Thematic Activity Guide page 3 Integrated Curriculum Activities These suggestions and ideas incorporate the bug theme in all centers and curriculum areas Language & Literacy, Science & Nature, Basic Concepts & Math, Block Play, Dramatic Play, Art, Music & Movement, Cooking, and the Home-School Connection. They include activities that will appeal to differing developmental levels and learning styles. Use the blank spaces provided to write your own ideas and notes. Language & Literacy Activities Read the book Clara Caterpillar. After reading the book and looking back through it, ask the children what they learned about caterpillars and butterflies. Make a print connection by writing on a chart as they dictate. Ask questions to lead into a more general discussion of insects. Can you name other insects? What do you know about them? What would you like to learn? Continue to chart the information you gather so you can refer to it as needed during the exploration of the theme. Re-read Clara Caterpillar and listen for the C sound. Ask children to clap when they hear a C sound. Make a list of the words as you come to them. Ask the children to name more C sound words that they know and add them to the chart. Use simple informational books like About Insects and Eyewitness Insect for more factually accurate research. Keep the chart available to add new facts as they are learned. Hang the BUSY BUGS BANNERS in the classroom. Ask the children to name the bugs on the banners. How are the bugs alike? How are they different? Read The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle. Select a favorite bug for a small group story based on this idea: The Very. Encourage each child to take a turn dictating or writing a page and illustrating it. Bind the book and put it in the library center. Children can become published authors by making color copies so that everyone has a book to keep. Older children may enjoy writing and illustrating individual journals. Busy Bugs An Environments Thematic Activity Guide page 4 Buggy Hand Rhymes and Songs Eensy-Weensy Spider The eensy-weensy spider climbed up the water spout. (pretend to climb spout with a back-and-forth thumb and forefinger rocking motion) Down came the rain and washed the spider out. (raise and lower hands while wiggling fingers to imitate pouring rain) Out came the sun and dried up all the rain, (make a bright sunshine by spreading hands and placing them on either side of the face) And the eensy-weensy spider climbed up the spout again. (pretend to climb spout again with a back-and-forth thumb and forefinger rocking motion) Little Miss Muffet Little Miss Muffet Sat on her tuffet Eating her curds and whey. Along came a spider And sat down beside her And frightened Miss Muffet away! A Grasshopper Hops A grasshopper hops and bends his knees (bend knees or elbows) A butterfly swoops and flies so free (swoop with arms) A spider knits and knots and weaves (roll hands like knitting) A ladybug peeks from under the leaves (peep from behind hands) Cuddle Bug Readers Set up a cozy reading nook with soft mats and bug pillows for children to snuggle into with while reading and sharing books. Science & Nature Activities Share an insect field guide with the children. When you are outside, take along magnifiers for an up-close look, and observe insects in their natural environment. (Look without touching because insects are tiny and fragile. Also, some can bite or sting.) Talk about how they are alike and how they are different. Are the insects in the grass? If they are on a leaf, how do they look? Busy Bugs An Environments Thematic Activity Guide page 5 Invite the children to make their own field guide by putting drawings or collages made from insect pictures into plastic sleeves. Put pages into a binder that children can refer to later. Using pictures of all kinds of insects, ask children to find the traits in the pictures that make them true insects. True Insect Similarities All come from eggs. All have 3 body parts head, thorax, abdomen. All have 6 legs. All have antennae. None have bones. True Insect Differences Insects vary in color. Insects vary in body shape. Some have wings and fly; some don t. Legs may differ in size and shape. Some sting or bite ; some don t. Look at the pictures in The Very Busy Spider book by Eric Carle. Does this look like an insect to you? Why? Ask the children to count the legs. Do you see the antennae? Read Bumblebee, Bumblebee, Do You Know Me? and talk with the children about all of the insects that are in the book. How are the insects alike? How are they different? How is a bumblebee like a honeybee? How is it different? Talk with children about dragonflies, water beetles, water bugs, and other bugs that live on or near fresh water ponds. Ask children, What would it be like to live on water? How do the bugs body shapes help them move or float on water? Experiment with objects of different shapes and weights in the sand and water table to compare how they sink, float, and move. Bug Scientists Observations Take a walk around the play area with a note pad, and look for insects, writing down the information as children dictate. Notice whether the insects have wings or not, what their colors are, if they were seen on the ground, flying, or in a tree, etc. When you return to the classroom, use the information to make graphs. Based on the observations, make a hypothesis about the bugs that make their home in the play area. Which bugs appear to be the most common? Do most have wings? What is the most common color? head thorax abdomen antenna wing Busy Bugs An Environments Thematic Activity Guide page 6 Symmetrical Wings Look at pictures and models of butterflies, ladybugs, and other winged insects. Point out to the children how the wings on either side of the insect always look alike, but reversed. Place unbreakable mirrors in the science center for experiments to duplicate this effect. Invite children to experiment with the mirrors and different objects and patterns to create symmetrical images. Tiny Garden Friend The ladybug is a tiny creature only about a quarter of an inch long but it has a big job to do in the garden. Ladybugs destroy aphids that attack plants. Help the children research this topic more thoroughly. The Buzz about Bees What could be more interesting than the life of honeybees? They live in a social environment headed by a queen. They eat nectar and make honey as well as help pollinate plants. Children will enjoy in-depth investigations of these fascinating creatures. Eyewitness Insect features a close-up photo of a beehive and lots of honeybee facts. Basic Concepts & Math Activities To increase interest in the insect theme, place bug counters in the math center to count, sort, and make patterns. Provide pictures of all kinds of animals, and ask children to pick out the insect or bug pictures and discard the rest. Encourage them to give you at least one reason why they made their choices number of legs, antenna, body parts, etc. Use pretend plastic fruits to sequence and count the fruits that are eaten in The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Attributes and Visual Discrimination Provide vinyl bug models, bug flannel board pieces, or other bug matching manipulatives. Ask the children to try to find two identical insects or look for similarities in different insects. Children can observe that bees and butterflies have wings or that a butterfly and a ladybug both have spots. Butterfly Metamorphosis Math Activity Read The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Clara Caterpillar. Discuss the processes and stages of metamorphosis with the children. To make a caterpillar, use 3 sections of an egg carton for the body. Add 2 pipe cleaners for antennae and 6 pipe cleaners for legs. Decorate paper Busy Bugs An Environments Thematic Activity Guide page 7 shapes, and add 4 wings to morph the caterpillar into a butterfly. Be sure to count the parts as you go. Block Play Activities Provide large-scale foam blocks for children to work together to build bug homes for each other as they pretend to be bugs. Bug Block Models After children have learned about different insects, encourage children to make homes for model bugs, bug puppets, or bugs they have made. Use blocks and found objects such as egg cartons, twigs, leaves, and other small containers to make bug homes. Children can construct homes for their insects or create maze-like paths with unit blocks for the bugs to crawl through. Dramatic Play Activities In the dramatic play center, provide props that create opportunities for children s bug play and retelling of stories. Use insect puppets, buggy dress-ups like Environments CURIOUS CREATURES POPOVERS, head bands with antennae, and scarves for wings. Remember to add fruits and vegetables for food! Art Activities Construct real or fantasy bugs with play dough or art materials like pom-poms, wiggly eyes, pipe cleaners, etc. The bugs could be 3-D sculptures or collage. Let the children arrange pom-poms on a piece of paper to create a caterpillar, then glue them down. Display the colorful creatures in the classroom. monarch butterfly Bug Wing Paintings Fold fingerpaint paper in half and ask the children to paint only on one half. While the paint is still wet, fold the paper over and press down. The design will be duplicated symmetrically like butterfly wings. Web Weavers Ask the children to squeeze lines of glue on collage trays and lay yarn on top. Sprinkle glitter on the wet glue path. Children may add spiders using other collage materials: pom-poms, wiggly eyes, pipe cleaners. swallowtail butterfly Busy Bugs An Environments Thematic Activity Guide page 8 Music & Movement Activities Bee Dance Honeybees often dance in the hive as a way of directing other bees to a good nectar spot. They circle and do figure eights and waggle. Invite children to do their own interpretation of the Bee Dance and don t forget to waggle! Bug Band Talk about how bugs make noises by rubbing their legs or flapping their wings. Ask the children to think of ways to make noise with their arms or legs without using their voices. Then choose musical instruments to keep time with the buggy song s rhythm. Bug Charades After children have become familiar with various bugs through readings, observations, and discussions, play Bug Charades. Turn pictures of insects face down or place bug models in a bag. Ask the children to choose a picture or a bug from the bag to discover which bug they will mime. Take turns acting out a bug s actions while others try to identify the insect. Bug Tag One child is it and chases after running children. When a child is tagged, she must say the name of a bug, and then she becomes it. The game continues until all the children have had a turn or they lose interest. Bee in the Hive Use a bean bag to represent a bee and let children take turns tossing the bag into a tub or bucket. Cooking Activities Make edible bugs using marshmallows, raisins, and pretzel sticks using cream cheese to glue them together. Bring in a jar of honey with the comb. Mix cream cheese and honey and spread on graham crackers. Sprinkle with raisins and enjoy at snack time. Remind the children that honey comes from honeybees. Remember to examine the comb after the honey is all gone. Ants on a Log Spread cream cheese onto celery sticks and top with raisin ants. Caterpillar s Chef Salad Use the fruits from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Invite the children to taste the fruits to see which Busy Bugs An Environments Thematic Activity Guide page 9 ones they prefer. Cut up the fruits, and then let children choose their favorites to place on a bed of lettuce for a custom fruit salad. Home-School Connection Tell the parents that the children are exploring insects and bugs. Send home the words to Eensy-Weensy Spider for parents to share with their child. Suggest to parents that they let the child use a towel for wings to fly like a butterfly. Encourage parents to take a walk with their child in the yard to look for bugs. Ask them to urge their child to tell them what he sees and what he has learned about bugs and to record observations in a journal that can be shared with others in the classroom. Make simple butterflies together. Simply drop food color onto coffee filters. When they are dry, scrunch up the filters in the middle (accordion style) and secure with clothes pins. Use the butterflies for puppet play. See next page for Busy Bugs Materials List Busy Bugs An Environments Thematic Activity Guide page 10 Busy Bugs Materials List This list of Environments products is designed to help you select materials which support the bug theme throughout the curriculum. The items are listed under the curriculum area they are most commonly associated with. The list correlates to the Environments Early Childhood Equipment & Materials Guide 2004 and Online Environments Stores where you will find detailed product information and pictures. To find products in the catalog: Simply look up the product on the page listed under Product Location. To find products at the online stores: Go to and enter the item number into the find products search tool. Language & Literacy Items Related Environments Banners Designed to enhance the exploration of early childhood themes, these banners promote curiosity and provide much opportunity for adults to interact with children. Banners can be used just as you would read picture books: informally pointing out and naming colors, shapes, and objects; talking about; imitating all chances to develop emergent literacy Busy Bugs Banners EC-98-A Fruits Banners Online Only Veggie Banners Online Only Related Books (in alphabetical order) Bumblebee, Bumblebee, Do You Know Me? EC-99-J Clara Caterpillar Online Only Eric Carle Board Books EC-98-D Eyewitness Insect Online Only First Encyclopedia EC-72-P The Icky Bug Alphabet Book EC-99-L Life Cycles Book Set EC-96-B My First Dictionary EC-72-O Nature Guides for Children Online Only The Random House Book of Poetry for Children EC-72-M Busy Bugs An Environments Thematic Activity Guide page 11 Seasons Book of Poems Online Only The Very Busy Spider EC-99-K The Very Hungry Caterpillar EC-99-M The Very Hungry Caterpillar Board Book Online Only Additional Language & Literacy Materials Puppet Theater EC-58-P Flannel/Magnetic Marker Board EC-61-H Set of Four Write and Wipe Markers EC-61-K Write and Wipe Eraser EC-61-K Adjustable Chart Stand EC-66-A Spiral Chart Pad EC-66-H Ream of Picture-Story Paper EC-67-K Dozen Pre-K Story Journals EC-67-M Dozen K-1 Story Journals EC-67-N Writing Center Accessories Set EC-67-T Ladybug Beetle EC-98-B Bright Beetle EC-98-C Bug Pillows EC-98-E Magnetic Marker/Flannel Board Room Divider EC-115-A Cushy Cushions EC-121-B Bug Cushion Shams EC-121-C Cushy Cushions EC-121-G Bug Cushion Shams EC-121-H Bugs Rubber Stamps Online Only Bug Friend Puppet-Gloves Online Only Science & Nature Items Look-at-Me Mirror EC-5-E Hand Magnifier EC-49-E Super-Size Magnifier EC-49-F Floaters and Sinkers EC-51-F Sand and Water Exploration Set EC-51-H EI Sand and Water Table EC-51-I Top for Sand and Water Table EC-51-K Animal Discovery Cards EC-90-B Life Cycle Tiles EC-97-E Periscope EC-97-J Curiosity Cabinet EC-115-H Busy Bugs An Environments Thematic Activity Guide page 12 Basic Concepts & Math Items Wooden Fruits and Vegetables Lotto EC-19-L Butterflies and Flowers Play Puzzle EC-43-B Fruits & Vegetables Jumbo Knob Puzzle EC-44-A Birds and Bugs Peg Puzzle Set EC-45-M Happy Critters Puzzle Set EC-46-B Creepy Crawlers Matching Set EC-61-A Backyard Bugs EC-99-N Fruity Fun
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