Attempting to gain control of my students after a bug has entered the picture is one of the most frustrating parts of my service. Bees might as well be swamp monsters coming out of the depths to eat the children, instead of little fuzzy guys trying to find something to eat. Ants appear as giant godzilla-like creatures and spiders quite possibly ghosts? With children’s imagination comes creativity, wonder, and excitement, but also so much dreaming up ways tiny critters could maybe kill them. But, how can you blame a kid who has experienced the pain of a bee sting or watched their family members freak out over a spider in the house? So how do I deal with these fears? SCIENCE!
I began my students’ journey to bug love with simply letting them hangout with a worm bin. I gave some of my most casual lessons using this bin filled with food scraps and worms. I scooped some handfuls out into personal bowls for each child, and together we used magnifying glasses to inspect our worm friends. I had the preschoolers talk to them and say nice things like “You look so beautiful today!” and “Thanks for helping us garden!”. 2nd graders wrote “Worm Biographies” detailing the life history of their worm.
Much like Karen, I have been giving lessons about bee behavior and conservation to prepare the older kids for spring. But, the preschool students have definitely been the hardest to convince. Everything is bigger and scarier to them. Out in the garden, I took big plastic bugs and hid them around the garden in the beds and grass. I had the 3 and 4 year olds run around, find one, bring it back and sit with it in our stump circle. The teachers and I got some great laughs out of the little ones who were NOT convinced the plastic bugs were fake and would pretend they didn’t find any so they wouldn’t have to pick them up. We talked about the different parts of our bugs. Ones with big eyes, ones with wings, and ones with beautiful colors.
Next up for preschool will be spider snacks! We will be using sliced bananas, raisins, toothpicks, and pretzel sticks to make edible spiders. *Like everything else with a 3 year old, make sure you remind them often that they shouldn’t eat normal spiders.*
Most importantly, adults should teach bug tolerance by demonstrating it themselves. Keep calm and collected around bugs, and let’s teach kids to respect all living things no matter the size!