Pre-K & Preschool theme ideas for learning about bugs: insects and spiders
Check here for a complete list of Books about Bugs!
Nursery rhymes that go well with a Bug Theme:
- Here is the Beehive
- Little Miss Muffet
Look for printable posters of these rhymes on the Nursery Rhymes Page.
- Spider on the Floor, by Raffi (Download on Amazon or iTunes)
- The Buggy Wuggy Song, by Mrs. Jones
- The Insect Song, by Mrs. Jones
- I’m a Butterfly, by Mrs. Jones
- Life of a Butterfly, by Mrs. Jones
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Mrs. Jones
- Ants Go Marching at Mrs. Jones’ Room
- The Ants Go Marching: traditional song
- Bringing Home a Baby Bumble Bee: traditional song
- Shoo Fly: traditional song
- The Itsy Bitsy Spider: traditional song
Look for the Bug Bingo game on the Bingo Games page.
Look for the Bug Grid Game on the Grid Games page.
Color Bugs Printable Book and Slideshow
Bugs Sorting and Counting Jars
Printable pattern block mats in blackline and color. Look for the butterfly, dragonfly, caterpillar, and bee mats to use with a bug theme.
Butterfly Matching Cards
Look for the Bug Cards on the Picture Cards for Themes page.
Color Bugs Printable Book
Egg Carton Ants
Children paint an egg carton (cut so that each child had 3 egg cups for the 3 body parts) with their choice of either red, brown, or black paint. We add wiggle eyes and pipe cleaner pieces for the antennae and legs.
Children make an edible ant hill in a cup. We used a clear punch cup so the children could see the layers they added to their dessert. First they put a layer of chocolate pudding into the cup for the “dirt”. Then, they crushed up graham crackers in a plastic ziploc bag and poured the crumbs into the cup for the anthill “sand”. Last, they added chocolate chips for the “ants” (you could also substitute raisins instead of chocolate chips).
Bee Hive Fingerplay
Here is the bee hive
(Cup hands together)
Where are the bees?
(Peek into hive)
Hidden away where nobody sees.
(Hide hive behind back)
Watch and you’ll see them come out of the hive.
(Bring hive back out front)
(Open fingers one by one. Fingers become the buzzing bees)
Flight of the Bumblebee
[Music, Large Motor]
We play a game with this song by passing a beanbag (the “bee”) like a hot potato around the circle of children while the music played. Occasionally, I stop the music, which means the person with the beanbag is “stung” and moves to the middle of the circle.
The Tale of the Tzar Saltan: Flight of the Bumblebee ~ Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Butterfly/ Caterpillar Activities
Cocoon & Butterfly
We talk about the life cycle of a butterfly, and make a cocoon with a toilet paper tube and white yarn. We decorate a clothespin with pom poms to look like a caterpillar and put it inside the cocoon. Another day, we paint a coffee filter with watercolor paints. When it is time for the butterfly to come out of the cocoon, the butterfly “wings” are then clipped in the clothespin caterpillar.
Butterfly Lacing Cards
To make these, I traced a butterfly outline onto old file folders, cut them out, and punched holes around the edge. The children use yarn to lace through the holes, and decorate them with markers.
Very Hungry Caterpillar Story Retelling
[Literacy, Fine Motor]
The Very Hungry Caterpillar foods are made from construction paper, and are strung on a green ribbon “caterpillar”. The children try to sequence the story from memory. Read more about this idea at Eric Carle’s Caterpillar Exchange.
We use butterfly counters to make color patterns. The children also make their own pattern with paper butterfly cutouts (I used the small craft punchers to cut the butterflies).
Printable Grid Pattern Paper
Butterfly Grid Game
Children roll the die, identify the numeral, and count out that amount of game pieces (butterfly counters) to put on the grid. The object of the game is to fill the grid. Children can play alone or with other players.
Little Miss Muffet Rhyme
Little Miss Muffet,
Sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey.
Along came a spider,
Who sat down beside her,
And frightened Miss Muffet away!
The Itsy Bitsy Spider
The itsy bitsy spider,
Climbed up the water spout.
Down came the rain,
And washed the spider out.
Out came the sun,
And dried up all the rain;
And the itsy bitsy spider
Climbed up the spout again.
At the circle, children toss a ball of white yarn to each other. As the children catch the yarn, they hold onto part of it, and throw it to the next person. This makes a giant spider web.
Children wrapp plastic insects with yarn (silk) like a spider would to capture it. When they finish, they choose wrapped bugs from the bowl, guess what kind they are, then unwrap them to see if they guessed correctly.
Spider Web Marble Painting
Children place a black paper circle in the bottom of a pie pan. We dip the marble in white paint, put it in the pie pan and roll it around to make a spider web. We also tie a plastic spider ring onto the web with yarn.
Little Miss Muffet Puppet Book
We make a spider puppet by gluing and decorating a black oval on the flap of a paper bag. We staple the pages of the “Little Miss Muffet” rhyme to the edge of the bag. The “spider” can hold the book open when the children have their hand inside.
Spider Ring Game
Children roll a die and place that amount of spider rings on their fingers. The first to have spiders on all ten fingers is the winner.
Curds & Whey
After learning the “Little Miss Muffet” nursery rhyme, we do this science experiment to understand what “curds and whey” look like. Children fill a clear cup half-way with milk, added 2 tablespoons of vinegar and stirred. We let it sit for about 2-3 minutes. The vinegar makes the milk separate into a solid, called curd, and a liquid, called whey. (Not meant to be eaten! Gross!)
Insects get stuck in a spider’s web because the spider’s web is sticky, but a spider does not because it’s legs are oily. We experiment with this idea by taping two squares of contact paper to the table, sticky side up. We pretend our hand is a bug, with our legs (fingers) sticking to the web. Using the other square of contact paper, we pretend to be a spider, dipping our legs (fingers) into cooking oil first, then walking across the sticky “web”.
Spiders in the Sensory Table
Children used Jurassic sand with Tree Blocks and plastic spiders for creative play. The plastic spiders are spider rings with the ring part cut off.
Play Dough Bugs
We place strips of green construction paper (for grass) in some small bug boxes (available at the Dollar Tree). Children make model bugs with play dough to put in the boxes.
Egg Carton Bugs
We make bugs using half of a cardboard egg carton, paint, wiggle eyes, pom-pom balls, and other materials.
This activity goes with the book, The Very Clumsy Click Beetle, by Eric Carle. You can read about this activity at the Eric Carle Caterpillar Exchange.
This is an activity that goes with any theme. Choose a book that goes with the theme, and have the children retell the story.
Read the blog post here for details: story retelling
[Literacy, Social Skills]
Children are given a simple bug outline. This is not a color sheet, the page only has 3 circles. They work in pairs to create bugs that are the same (“bug twins”). One child has the role of communicator and one child had the role of listener. The communicator adds features to the bug by drawing & coloring, and communicates each step to a partner. The partner listens and adds the same features to the bug without seeing the other child’s paper. This project helps with communication skills, listening, following directions, and cooperation.
As gross as it sounds, children are fascinated by this game. Each child has a handful of 8 plastic flies. They throw them onto the table, and count how many flies are dead (on their backs) and how many flies are alive (on their feet).
Sorting by Sizes
We use three sizes of craft pom poms (our pretend fuzzy bugs) to sort by size into different sized containers.
Bug Counting Book
We make a bug counting book by stamping bug stamps on each page of the book. The words to the book are:
4; Those were good, but I want more!
8; The big fat juicy ones taste just great!”
Bug Sensory Table
[Sensory, Fine Motor]
Read the blog post here: Bug Sensory Table
Bug Nature Walk
We go on a nature walk to search for bugs, and draw observational pictures of bugs we find.
A collection of various items for learning about bugs, read the post at the link: Bugs Science Center.
Picnic Prop Box
Include: Blanket, Picnic basket, Paper plates & cups, Play food
- Insects @ Pre-KPages.com
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar @ The Virtual Vine
- Busy Bees @ The Virtual Vine
- Insects @ Enchanted Learning
- Insects @ LittleGiraffes.com