Our nature study has finally taken us to arthropods. I’ve been eagerly waiting for this all summer. I love bugs! Even spiders. I find them all fascinating. And I’ve been chomping at the bit to share my fascination with the kids. However, with all that life has brought along this summer, my month’s worth of plans became a week’s worth of bugs. Still, the kids learned a lot, and we had tons of fun in the process.
For our study, I used God’s Design for Life: World of Animals book and an old favorite that my mom read to us when I was a kid (the exact book! My mom saved it all these years) All Nature Sings. I used these books as our read-alouds. We began each day reading the Beginner section of the World of Animals chapter. I adapt this as I feel the need. Some days, the beginner section doesn’t cover all I want to cover, so I read the intermediate section for older children. Other days, the intermediate section reads so advanced that I revert back to the beginner section. On most days, however, I can read the Beginner section and add the bolded vocabulary from the intermediate; it’s perfect for us. Then, we’ll read a couple of “bug” stories from All Nature Sings, a book that shows children God’s design and purpose for all those pesky critters.
Because of our animal classifications that we’ve been doing all year in geography, the kids are pretty familiar with the idea of arthropods including insects and spiders. So we began our study by taking a closer look.
On our first day, we learned the parts of an insect. My mom blessed us with some really fun plastic critters that made taking a closer look much less intimidating. We got out our plastic bugs, counted their legs, and named their three body parts. Then, we lined up all of the bugs. The kids took turns working down the line and naming the body parts on each insect (head, thorax, abdomen). It was a fun way to work in repetitive drill.
We left a plastic ant on the table that day so that the kids could name all the parts for Dad when he came home. Even Middlest was able to name off head, thorax, and abdomen.
The kids loved playing with the insects. And to prove to you how well this plastic insect concept worked, here’s the contrast. We went outside later in the week on a bug hunt. I found a dead cicada and called the kids to come take a closer look, count legs, name body parts, etc. Oldest took one look and ran the other way. I finally convinced him that it was dead and harmless; he came just close enough to see what I wanted to point out to him.
Maybe one day I’ll get my timid explorers to hold a real insect. But for now, I’m counting my blessings and thanking God for plastic.