Early Learning Lessons

The Buzz on Bugs: A preschool unit on insects

Children looking at bugs held in adult hands

In the United States, the beginning of the school year is still typically quite warm. And with warm weather, the bugs and insects remain active in the outdoor environment. In order to take advantage of this opportunity, we spent week 2 of our school year on “The Buzz on Bugs,” a preschool unit on insects appropriate for early education learners. 

Reading: Our Book List 

4 Bug-themed Books

We included reading each day of our unit so that we were exposed to all different books that deal with the bug/insect theme. We typically read two of these books each day to support our unit on insects.

Standards: 
– Practice appropriate book handling skills.
– Identify basic features of print. 
– Demonstrate understanding of spoken words, syllables, and sounds
(phonemes).
– With prompting and support, retell key details of text that support a
provided main idea.
– Answer questions about a text.
– With prompting and support, make connections between
information in a text and personal experience.

Bitsy Bee Goes to School By David A. Carter

The Bug in the Bog By Jonathan Fenske

Buggy Bug By Christopher Raschka

Bugs at the Beach David A. Carter

Bugs at the Beach 

Bugs Don’t Hug: Six Legged Parents and Their Kids By Heather L. Montgomery

Bugs from Head to Tail By Stacey Roderick

Busy Bug Builds a Fort By David A. Carter

Flat Stanley and the Bees By Lori Haskins Houran

Mrs. Peanuckle’s Bug Alphabet By Peanuckle

On Beyond Bugs By Tish Rabe

  • We regularly selected our favorite book of the day and discussed our favorite parts.
  • We engaged in regularly re-telling of “Buggy Bug,” which was a favorite.
  • My daughter found the idea of an extinct bug (a term learned from Mrs. Peanuckle’s Bug Alphabet very sad. We talked about how we need to protect the environment so more insects don’t go instinct.

 

 

Additional Language Arts

Child putting pipe cleaners in playdoh to form a letter B

  1. Dot the B/b
    To introduce the letter of the week (B/b), the girls did a classic “Dot” activity and made the B-sound.
  2. Find the B/b in the bugs.
    After the letter has been introduced, I like to make sure the girls are able to differentiate the letter of the week from other letters with this classic Seek-The-Letter activity.
  3. Pre-Writing Skills- Lines & Letters
    The girls traced lines between bugs and their leaves and traced the letter of the week “Letter B/b”  My 4 year old is really starting to do a good job with tracing. 
  4. Brainstorm B-Words
    We practices the “B” sound and brainstormed words that start with B. This activity is focused on my pre-k learner, as my preschooler is still learning letters and letter sounds.
  5. Brainstorm -Ug Rhymes
    To accompany our “Bug” theme, we practiced rhyming words with bug. It took my girls a moment to get the hang of it, but my 4 year old came up with some great -ug words and even my 2.5 year old thought of one, too.
  6. Letter B Playdoh Art
    The girls used pipe cleaner to press into a letter B indentation in playdoh. I like this activity as another kinesthetic way to become more familiar with the shape of the B other than writing the letter with a writing utensil.

Get our  Language Arts Letter B packet  with our dot the B/b activity, Find the B/b in the Bugs, Bug Line Tracing, Letter B tracing activities from our shop.

Math
Young child standing at a table with a lady bug worksheet and pom pomsChild looking at lady bugs and a less than sign made out of orange construction paper

In addition to daily practice counting in all kinds of integrated settings, we used the following activities to reinforce our counting and math skills.

  1. Lady Bug Line Up
    Standards:
    – Know number names and the count sequence. For this activity, we used our wooden numbered lady bugs. Learners were asked to line up the lady bugs based on (1) their numerals and (2) their number of dots.Note: This simple activity was an independent center activity.
  2. Hungry Bird Activity 
    Standards: 
    – Compare numbers.For this activity, we used our wooden numbered lady bugs again.   You can also use drawn or printed lady bugs and/or dots.  I set the lady bugs in two piles with differing amounts of lady bugs.  I used a simple piece of orange construction paper cut into a strip and folded to represent both a bird beak AND the “greater than” or “less than” signs (> and <).  The girls then decided which pile of lady bugs the VERY hungry bird would eat if he wanted to eat the greater number (more) of lady bugs.

    To up the level a little, you could have the learner compare the number of dots on the lady bugs. During the activity, I interchanged words like “greater than” and “more” and “bigger.” I also interchanged words like “less than” and “less” and “smaller.” By doing so, I am introducing math vocabulary that relates to words and concepts they already know.  I then articulated number sentences to match the visual scenarios we had created to familiarize them with the number sentence structure. 

    Of course, I do NOT expect either child (2 or 4) to be able to do this activity alone or to recall all of the skills we practices. I do, however, believe in exposure to these words and concepts, as they relate to the activities and their current understandings.

  3. Roll The Lady Bug Spots
    Standards:
    – Count to tell the number of objects
     We used a printed ladybug image, a die, and black pom poms.  The learner rolled the die, counted the number of dots and then placed the corresponding number of pom poms on the lady bug. Note: This activity was an independent center activity because the learners are already familiar with this type of roll-and-add-spots activity.
  4. Caterpillar Patterns
    Standards: 
    – Analyze, compare, create, and compose shapes.

    We used a worksheet with caterpillars with varying patterns (AB and ABB) for this activity.  The learners then continued the pattern.Note: This activity was an independent center activity for my pre-k learner, but required support for my preschooler.
  5. Grass Hopper Number Recognition
    Standards:
    – Know number names and the count sequence.
     For this activity, we used a deck of number flashcards spread across the floor.  You could use printed or written numbers on paper, if you don’t have flashcards.  The learners were asked to pretend to be grass hoppers and hop to the number articulated by the facilitator.  Level up this activity by asking an elementary child to hop to the number that is equal to an articulated math equation.  For example, “Hop to the number equal to two plus two.” 
  6. How High Does the Bug Jump?
    Standards:
    -Describe and compare measurable attributes of length and weights of everyday objects.
     We used a worksheet and math manipulative blocks as our non-standard tool for measurement in order to see the “height” our bugs could jump on in our 2-dimensional image. 
  7. Lady Bug & Leaf Number Match
    Standards:
    – Count to tell the number of objects.
    – Know number names and the count sequence.

    We used our wooden number blocks and dry erase boards for this activity to save paper, but you can absolutely use hand drawn or printed lady bugs and leaves.  To prepare for the activity, I drew leaves on the white board and labeled them 0-10.  Then I set their lady bugs with the varying numbers of dots nearby. The girls were asked to count the dots on the lady bug and place her on the lady bug with the numeral that matched the number of dots.  My pre-k learner does this activity well when she isn’t rushing.  My preschooler did a nice job with numbers 1-5.

 

Product Image for LA Letter B Packet showing 2 printable worksheets
LA Letter B Packet available for download.

Cultural Spotlight

Young Child Using Butter Knife to Cut Crust off Bread for Egyptian Palace Bread We focused on Ancient Egypt this week. We’d seen the ancient Egyptian symbol of the Scarab as part of our bug theme and continued on our exploration of the culture through an informative, age-appropriate YouTube video “Short Stories for Kids: Trip to Egypt” and the making of Egyptian Palace Bread.

This was a great opportunity to introduce historical, cultural content and also gave us the chance to practice fine motor skills and cooking skills.

Civics

As part of our daily circle time, we began to try to place ourselves within the community using the “Me on the Map” activity from Teach Mama.

This is definitely a lesson we need to expand upon and continue to revisit, but they love looking at images of the planet.

Arts & Crafts 

  1. Symmetrical Butterflies
    The girls used pom poms dipped in paint to paint one side of the butterfly. Then they folded them in half to imprint the other side in a symmetrical way.
  2. What is Hiding in the Grass? 
    The girls were able to practice their cutting skills with this awesome activity by School Time Snippets. My girls both thought this activity was very cool. They really enjoyed using the scissors to make grass. we also opted to cut out pictures of bug and glue them to a half-sheet of construction paper instead of using a singular image like the example. I like that gave them more chance to use their cutting skills and glue skills.

Science

Child making bug out of playdohLittle girl with bug made out of food

Standards:
– Name basic parts of living things.

We focused on the main characteristics of insects through different activities and explored insects’ role in the environment.

We made bugs out of food: 

  1. Cookie Dough Ants
    Cookie doh body parts, pretzel legs, and M&M eyes.
  2. Cheerio Caterpillars 
    Cheerio body, pretzel legs, grape head
  3. Blueberry Caterpillars 
    Blueberries skewered on a toothpick

We also made bugs out of playdoh and went on a bug hunt around our yard.  We spent time talking about the pollinator insects and how important they are to society. 

Additionally, we completed a “Bug or Not” sort that allowed the girls to look at pictures of bugs and look for the key characteristics.

But my favorite activity was dramatic play! We learned the stages of butterfly metamorphosis and acted them out! You can see the cuteness in this compilation reel on Instagram! 

 

Fine Motor Skills

Young child using tongs to pick up pom poms from a bowl covered in a tape web.We had lots of opportunity to develop our fine motor skills through our other activities like “What is Hiding in the Grass?” that helped with their scissor cutting skills, painting with pom poms, playdough manipulation, pre-writing skills, and more.

Another fun activity to promote fine motor skills was our Bug Rescue!

We used our colored pom poms in a large container to represent bugs. Then I placed tape over the top to represent a spider’s web.  The girls rescued the bugs from the spider’s web using tongs and then sorted them by color. 

 

Standards:
– Classify objects and count the number of objects in each category.
– Use hands, fingers, and wrists to manipulate objects.
– Coordinate eye and hand movements to perform a task.

Environmental Education

A lot of our focus in environmental education is about building appreciation for our planet with all the plants, animals, and humans living on it! That is especially relevant to our preschool unit on insects, because insects are often underappreciated, but have tremendous value to the planet. 

  1. Bug Hunt

One simple activity we did this week as spend some of our outside time looking for bugs.  We explored where they might live– under rocks and logs. We didn’t pick any up or keep any. But we had fun spying them with our eyes.

2. Connecting with the Earth

The children connected with the earth by going barefoot and appreciating the world that is home to the bugs! 

Standards:
– Match living things with their environment. 
– Explain resources from the environment that meet the needs of humans, animals, and plants.

Gross Motor Skills 

  1. Bug Yoga 

We used the activity by Kids Yoga Stories.  There are lots of different variations of bug movement and bug yoga, but I liked that these use traditional moves with fun bug names for the theme.

Child crawling through a fort made of a pop up tent and tunnel, a table, and a blanket2. Fort Building  
To accompany our book Busy Bug Builds a Fort, we made our own fort and enjoyed playing in it!

Standards:
– Identify fundamental practices for good health.
– Exhibit balance while moving on the ground or using equipment.

Rounding Out the Week

We round out our lessons with our extra curricular activities. The girls are both in gymnastics, dance, and soccer.  These activities promote gross motor skill development, social skill development, listening skills, healthy habits, etc. We practice what we learned from our teachers and coaches at home to keep the learning fresh. We also have mini music lessons and LOTS of free play! 

Additional Activities

I am an over planner. So, we don’t always get to all of the activities. Here are some more that were on our radar, but we didn’t get time to complete: 

  1. The Buzz on Emotions 
    This cute worksheet from Simple Every Day Mom helps with recognition of emotions based on facial expression. 
  2. Nectar Relay
    I love this really cool active way of learning about nectar and the bees through this hands-on learning activity from Turner Tots.

3. Letter B Butterfly Craft 
      We ended up doing a few different crafts this week and didn’t have time for this one from Planning Playtime, but I love the way it plays with the
     shape of the letter B to create the butterfly. 

4. Cup Stamp Caterpillar
     This is a simple, adorable craft for little ones, using materials that are typically available around the house. We ran out of time, but I highly suggest
     you check this one out from DLTK.

Product Image Bug Unit

Get a jump start on your Early Learning Bug Unit for preschool and pre-k by downloading our Printables available in the Shop! 

    Buy Now     

 

 

 

If you have other favorite activities for a preschool unit on insects, I would love to see them in the comments! 

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