Coming up with preschool bug theme ideas is one of the most fun parts of teaching young kids. Whether they're wrinkling their noses with "GROSS!!" or happily clapping their hands at the sight of a butterfly, it's easy to engage children with the world of insects.
Finding Preschool Bug Theme Ideas Online
The first place you might be looking for bugs is naturally your computer. Many teachers have shared their lesson plans freely online, and even more have contributed the ways the activities have worked and how they have needed to be adjusted. In fact, what will be more difficult than finding the ideas will be deciding which ones to use!
Alphabet of Insects
One of the most comprehensive sites for lesson plans and activities regarding bugs, insects, and spiders is First-School. Divided alphabetically, every letter has an associated bug, and that's just the beginning. For example, when you choose "E for Earwig" the list of activities is arranged by age; activites for ages three and under and activities for those three and older. Each activity comes with clear instructions and often with complete coloring pages, suggestions for discussions, and activities. While the emphasis is on using insects to teach alphabet and literacy skills, it is a great way to integrate a science curriculum along with it.
Focusing on the Insect World
For more science-focused preschool bug theme ideas, sites like PreKinders.com have lots of very simple activities that appeal to young ages. You have to scroll past a lot of advertising, but the page does offer very short, clear descriptions of activities like creating "anthill" desserts, lacing butterfly projects, nursery rhymes and songs as well as providing printable resources.
Kinderplans also focuses on the hands-on activities with a very clear and detailed list of activities as well as ideas for wall hangings, posters, and tie-ins for reading, arithmetic, and even socialization. While complete access to the lesson plans is only provided to paying subscribers, there are plenty of ideas and illustrations on the site, including exactly what materials would need to be provided for the art activities and videos explaining how the insect curriculum can help create books for emergent readers. These emergent reading books are retellings of particular stories that emphasize repeating text so that it's easier for children to re-tell and re-read the stories themselves.
Eric Carle's Hungry Caterpillar and Click Beetle
One of the most popular children's book authors, Eric Carle, has created a website where teachers and parents can share ideas about how his insect-themed books have been used to bring kids into contact with the world of bugs. Aside from the novice readers mentioned above, there are many art activities, math exercises, and science concepts to share. One teacher even had her kids mix healthy sweet juice drinks and put them into cups shaped like flowers - then let them suck the "nectar" from the flowers just like bees do! It's this kind of visceral, hands-on activity that really make ideas about the insect world come to life for children.
Coming Up with Your Own Ideas
With all of these ideas online, it's pretty easy to come up with a lesson plan that will fit in with your students. There are a few things to keep in mind, however
It's important to plan your lessons around the life cycle of the insect being studied. For example, woolly bear caterpillars can be collected in the fall but will not turn to butterflies until spring. Therefore, plan woolly bear activities in fall and spring accordingly, but study something else in the winter.
Remember that many children are allergic to bee stings, and some may have other psychological aversions to bugs. While that doesn't mean they can't learn about them, they should be taken into account when doing hands-on projects or explorations. Use plenty of cross-curricular activities to help every child learn in your classroom. For example, a child who has an aversion to that spider in your classroom terrarium, can read a book and do a report instead.
Since every geographic location has its own catalogue of insects, teaching about the bugs right in your neighborhood can help bring preschoolers really take an interest in the thematic study. In addition, parents love hearing what their kids have learned about the insect right there on the sidewalk.
Whatever preschool bug theme ideas and activities you end up using, remember to share them on the Web and add to the enjoyment of other preschoolers. That way you can get feedback and come back with even better ideas, year after year.