Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Bug Week (Simple Summer Theme #1)

As I mentioned earlier this week, Big Brother thinks it would be fun if each week of our summer vacation had a "theme." Most of our summer will be spent at home, and I love that he's thinking ahead like this. With extra kiddos here off and on during the summer, it would make our times with them more fun too.

But, I really want our summer to still feel relaxed and flexible, and well, like summer vacation versus summer camp. So, with that in mind I'm trying to honor his theme idea but in a low key way. We'll try, on the days we can, to do at least one simple project, snack, or activity that matches our current theme. Here on the blog I'm calling this "Simple Summer Themes." After the week I'll share a brief round up of different ways we celebrated our theme.

Our First Week: Bug Week

Our first week was "Bug Week," and as it was also our first week of vacation, we definitely tried to keep it simple. But even keeping it simple was still a lot of fun!

1. Read About Bugs
In all my years of working with kids, I've noticed most of them are fascinated with bug books. Kids love reading nonfiction books with close-up pictures of bugs and detailed facts about different insects. Even ordinary bugs start to seem amazing. There's also lots of great fiction stories out there with bugs as main characters. Don't own bug books? Check out your local library!

2. Learn the Body Parts
Kids love learning the basics about insects: head, thorax, abdomen, 6 legs, and 2 antennae. We talked about it as we read, and more so as we crafted and explored. You can also switch up the words from the classic kids' song, "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" to "Head, Thorax, Abdomen . . ." You just have to get a little creative with fitting in "legs and antennae."

3. Create a Homemade Bug House
With a few household materials, including some recycling, you can easily make a homemade bug box. We used plastic grape tomato containers, scraps of netting, and rubber bands to create our bug houses. (Just note, we realized a little too late we also needed to cover the holes on the bottoms of the containers with netting/plastic.)
Once you've created your bug house fill it with some natural materials for the bugs to enjoy. 

4. Go on a Backyard Bug Hunt
The great thing about learning about bugs, is that pretty much you can find them anywhere. This is especially true in our backyard. With a handful of magnifying glasses and our homemade bug houses we started looking in our backyard. We found all sorts of interesting creatures! What do you think you could find near you? 

5. Build-a-Bug
Once kids have learned about the body parts of an insect, and they've had a chance to observe some bugs, encourage them to build their own. One of the easiest way to do that is by using modeling clay (or playdough) and a handful of other easy to gather craft supplies. 

Our materials included modeling clay, pony beads, googly eyes, pompoms, pipe cleaner pieces, and pieces of sheer ribbon. Didn't the boys' bugs turn out cute and creative?

6. Create Clothespin Dragonflies
This was the most complicated of our bug week projects, but we love how they turned out. You can see the full post here

7. Make "Smooshed Bug" paintings. 
Okay, so maybe a little different than the other parts of our week in that we were not learning or observing bugs, but this was still a lot of fun. 

Using white paper, kid paint, permanent markers, and googly eyes, we created smooshed bug art. First, we folded the paper in half, then we opened it up again, added in paint and closed the paper back up again. Once it was closed, we "smooshed" the paint between the halves of the paper. 

We opened the paper to let the paint dry, and once they were dry added eyes and other features. 

8. Have a Bug Themed Snack
The classic, easiest bug themed snack would be "Ants on a Log." (And in case you don't know, ants on a log are made of celery, cream cheese or peanut butter, and raisins.) 

But, because Big Brother does not like celery we had to think out of the box a little and created these apple/raisin ladybugs. 

One apple cut in half easily made two bugs and the fresh cherries were perfect for the heads. I used extra cherry stems to create two antennae, one pair for each bug. A little bit of Nutella helped keep the raisins on the apple. 

These were a few of the ways we had fun exploring "Bug Week." None of the projects or activities took too long to set up or clean up, and they were all ones we'd definitely try again! 

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