"Mom, there's a bug!"
Every mother has heard the dreaded bug phrase more than she can count. When I was a new mom, I wanted to make sure my daughter enjoyed insects. Her dad is a scientist and agrees that creatures of all shapes and sizes are to be admired not feared. I searched the Internet, asked parents, read books and discovered many ways to ensure your children love insects.
1. Read books about insects
Reading an animated insect book can help take the scariness out of insects for young children. If they can see a happy smile on a spider or fly, it becomes a friend. I love the Miss Spider books. My favorite is the "Miss Spider's Listening Walk."
2. Create an insect craft with your kids
After reading a good insect book ask your child what her favorite insect was and have her draw it on a piece of paper. There are also free insect coloring pages you can print.
3. Play an outside search game
. Get outside and help your kids find insects. You can download free insect bingo cards and use them on your nature walk. When you find an insect watch it for a minute or two and talk about how it walks, eats, or flies. Don't be afraid to take a walk at night and allow your child to discover that the night brings on different types of insects such as crickets.
4. Teach them about dangerous insects
Your kids will need to understand that not all insects are safe to get close to or touch. Teach them how bees and wasps sting for their protection and that some spiders are poisonous.
5. Let them discover the world of metamorphosis
Butterflies are one of nature's wonders. There are small butterfly gardens you can buy that are equipped with butterfly eggs and milkweed. All you have to do is sit back and watch the magic. My daughter's preschool released their butterflies and threw a butterfly party. It was one of my daughter's fondest memories of preschool.
6. Explore the parts of different insects
. Give your child a magnified glass and teach him about the different parts of insects. Have him draw or talk about what he learned at the dinner table. Let your kids teach you and watch their excitement grow.
7. Eat your own insects
Get in the kitchen and create chocolate cookies that look like Ladybugs or s'mores that resemble a spider. Halloween is around the corner. There are wonderful examples of "edible insects" you can make for your aspiring scientist to eat. Your child will also have a great story to tell her friends.
8. Model your interest
Children learn how to react to things in their lives by watching how adults and older siblings react. When you see an insect, show how interested you are in watching it as it moves. If you don't know what kind of insect you are looking at, go home and research it with your child.