Resources on Bugs and Insects
by Susan Stephenson, www.thebookchook.com
Encouraging kids' interest in small creatures is not difficult. Most children have a fascination for animals large and small. That fascination is often accompanied by questions, so here are some resources that might help you explore and share knowledge with your kids.
First of all, what is the difference between a bug and an insect? Are all bugs insects? Are all insects bugs? We often use the words synonymously, but in fact, a true bug is a special kind of insect with a sucking mouth part (Thank you Stephen Fry and the QI team for teaching me this!) You can see a bug using its proboscis like a straw below. (Image used under CC license from Ask a Biologist. They also have a PDF colouring activity sheet.)
What other questions do children/students have about insects? Check out your local or school library for wonderful books on the subject (check the 595's), and explore the following websites that might help. If you want to buy a good book about insects, make sure to check the country of publication, as there are differences across the world.
While you and your kids are exploring resources, take note of the differing estimates of the total percentage of insects in the world, or the number of insect species in your country. Can children suggest why these numbers might differ?
Scholastic have an online book pitched at an early reading level that kids can read along/listen to called Insect World Records.
National Geographic Young Explorer have an online magazine pitched at an early reading level called Busy Bugs and another called Bug Eyed. Access all the National Geographic Young Explorers here.
In Australia, the CSIRO has a guide to Australian insect families called What Bug is That? The Australian Museum's website is a wonderful place to explore, as is the real museum. Australia has some record-breaking insects you can discover via Australian Insects.
David Attenborough has made fantastic documentaries about animals. The BBC's Life of Insects - Attenborough: Life in the Undergrowth is a typically excellent resource. Check it out on Youtube or below. Search by category for videos - BBC - insects.
Learning Parade has a free template you can download that helps kids write an information report about animals - definitely adaptable to bugs and insects.
If you live in/visit Canada, the Montreal Insectarium is a great place to visit, or check out the supporting website, with games for kids and an insect collection you can view.
Play a game called A Ladybird's Life at National Museums Scotland.
National Geographic have a section on Bugs and Animal Planet have several pages of information on insects.
NeoK12 has several short videos on insects.
Here's a simple little presentation from the University of Illinois that might answer some of your kids' questions.
Scholastic share Facts and Fun About Insects and Bugs in Going Bug-gy!
Wildlife Fun 4 Kids has an activity you can share with quite young children, Lay a Sheet and Shake a Tree.
Take a look at the way artist Jennifer Angus uses insects in art.
If you're looking for a cute song to use with Kindergarten, perhaps to learn and perform for an audience, check out Bugs and Beetles.
Here is a TED playlist, Insects are Awesome.
Book Chook Challenge for Kids:
* Can you discover some insect world records? Which insect lays the biggest eggs? Which insect do you think could jump the furthest? Which is the biggest insect? Which animal, also an insect, has the fastest snapping jaw? (Do some research, then get together with some friends and make a digital or print booklet presenting your world record champions.
* Some people like to eat insects. This is probably best not to try yourself unless Mum and Dad say it's okay. Design a menu for your restaurant that serves only dishes with insects in them. Here are some pictures of insects that people eat in Thailand.
* Some scientists estimate there are 6 million species of insects on our planet. What is your favourite species?
* Choose an insect to explore in depth. Write an information report about your insect. Try not to put your reader to sleep! Choose some fascinating facts that will interest us.
* Pack your camera and go on an insect hunt.
* UK's Natural History Museum has a game where you can collect specimens for the museum from the island of Regaloam. Try it!
* Play Dung Beetle Derby at National Geographic Kids.
* Read about Trap Jaw Ants at National Geographic.
* Recognize creatures from close-ups at National Geographic.
* If you were an insect, which one would you be? Tell us a little about a day in your life.
* Make an alphabetical list of insects.
* Learn to draw a cartoon ladybug.
* Ask an adult to help you make some cookies with a bug look by pressing plastic bugs into the cookie dough. More via Martha Stewart.
You might also be interested in reading Resources about Animals and Let's Celebrate World Animal Day.