During the summertime, you can enjoy a lot of fun activities with your children. Most of these activities even end up being an educational experience, which is a double bonus for family fun and learning. Kids are very interested in bugs, but don’t really know very much about them. It is important to teach children to avoid certain bad bugs, and also how to respect these tiny creatures. However, there are lots of good bugs that do great things for the environment and are easy to introduce to children. Here are four of them to get started:
Grasshoppers are long legged and bouncy. If you can find one in the grass or sometimes on parking lots in the summer, take the time to point it out to the kids. They will get a kick out of the tremendous jump of the grasshopper. These insects are herbivores, and can be found on many continents. They provide food for birds and other small animals. Plus, they help provide nutrients to plants too.
The ladybug is a bright red beetle with black dots. Sometimes, you will see orange ladybugs which are a slightly different species. Ladybugs are extremely helpful for gardeners because they eat many insects that eat our food plants. If you happen to see the ladybug, invite your children to take a look at it. Be careful of picking one up, because some of the orange ones can bite or pinch the skin. However, it is considered good luck if the ladybug decides to land on you.
3. Lightning Bugs
Every kid should have a chance to chase and collect lightning bugs. Fireflies, as they are also known, come out in the early evening during the warm weather. It is easy to see why these insects get their name. They produce a bioluminescent glow on their bellies that is used to communicate with each other. A popular past time for most children is to capture lightning bugs and collect them in glass jars. If you do this activity with your kids, make sure to poke small holes in the metal lid of the jar for air. Provide the lightning bugs with some grass and other local plant leaves for food. Also, be sure to let the lightning bugs go the next day so they can get back to their insect friendly lives.
4. Caterpillars & Butterflies
One of the best and most important ways to teach children about the cycle of life is through caterpillars and butterflies. These are both the same species, just at different stages of their lifecycle. The caterpillar is a larval (juvenile) form of the butterfly. When it has eaten enough food and is ready, it will create its own cocoon for the winter. Inside the cocoon, the caterpillar pupates (changes) into a butterfly. Some classroom projects involve taking care of the caterpillar and watching over its cocoon during the winter. If the students are lucky, the caterpillar will emerge from the cocoon as a butterfly in the spring.
If you take the time to help kids learn about the good insects in our environment, you can also help them overcome any potential fears of these small creatures. Kids come to understand the interconnectedness of our ecosystem and how insects can even help humans and other animals. Many insect educational activities also make for affordable family fun.
About the author: Chris is a blogger for a montclair pest control company.