Inside: Here are 8 projects and activities for grandparents to introduce their grandchildren to bugs and insects. Exciting, fun, and stimulating for even the youngest of grandkids.
Discovering Bugs and Insects with Grandparents
When Sophia Spencer was 2 ½ -years-old, her mother took her to a butterfly conservatory. A beautiful butterfly perched on her shoulder and did not fly away. She was mesmerized and it triggered in Sophia a fascination for bugs and insects—particularly grasshoppers!
Seeing her passion for bugs, her mother wrote the entomological society looking for a bug scientist to be a pen pal for her daughter. The response was overwhelming! Using the hashtag #BugsR4Girls, scientists tweeted Sophia encouraging her to continue her interest in bugs and sent her letters, photos, and videos to support her in her bug fascination.
Sophia is now 11-years-old and has appeared on Good Morning America, The Today Show, and NPR. She has also co-authored a children’s book: The Bug Girl: A True Story to share with others her passion for bugs and insects.
Bugs and Insects: 8 Fun Activities to do with Grandparents
As a child, were you fascinated with bugs, insects, or spiders? Or were you afraid of those crawly creatures?
I liked them—, especially earwigs. I found them under rocks; picked them up and put them in my pinafore pockets. When I came home, they were crawling all over my pinafore. Ugh! I can’t believe I did that.
Fascinated or scared, discovering bugs and insects at your grandparent’s house seems to be more fun and less scary (especially when Grandma’s nearby). My grandchildren are captivated by them so I created a theme on bugs and bug activities for them.
Here are some fun ideas all centered around the theme: Bugs and Insects…
#1: Finding Bugs and Insects in Nature
Grab the grandkids and go hunting for bugs and insects. Take binoculars, a bug house, tweezers (to pick up the bugs), and let the hunt begin!
We found dead bees, red ants, roly-poly’s, spiders, butterflies, and best of all, my little 2-year-old granddaughter found a big beetle. She even touched it to see if it was alive (it was). We put all of our “finds” in the bughouse.
After examining everything “up close and personal,” we let them all go.
Part of the fun was trying to find the bugs. Summer is a good time of the year to find these critters, but we found that late in the afternoon or early in the morning are the best times.
Read books about bugs and insects (below) prior to going on your hunt—it makes the activity more meaningful and helps your grandkids understand bugs better.
#2: Art: Yarn-wrapped Bugs and Insects
This is a fun bug project and will teach your grandkids fine motor skills as they wind yarn over a stick or clothespin to create a bug.
Here’s what you need:
- Sticks: During your bug hunt, look for interesting sticks to use for this art project.
- Clothespins work great for creating interesting bugs
- Corrugated cardboard (found at Michael’s) for the wings
- Googly eyes
- Have each grandchild pick out 2 sticks and a clothespin. Encourage them to look at the stick and visualize which will make the best bugs
- Wrap the yarn around and around the stick. They can change yarn colors and make their bugs multi-colored
- Wings: if you want wings on your bug, draw them on the corrugated cardboard, cut out, and place them on your bug. Then wind the yarn around the wing to attach it to the bug.
- If you are making a centipede-type bug, take small sticks and have grandma hot-glue gun the little sticks to the larger stick before winding the yarn around it
- When completed, glue the end of the yarn or tape it to the back of the bug
- Glue pom-poms for a face and googly eyes
Thanks, Art Bar for this fun idea!
#3: Art: String Art Bugs and Insects
Did you ever do string art as a child? It was one of my favorite art projects in elementary school. Today, string art is done a bit differently, but I taught my grandkids how to do it the way I was taught. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Cardstock paper: we used 8.5×11 size—you can use larger
- Tempera paints (Prang paints are great)
- String cut in 15-inch lengths. You will need one for each color you are using
- Googly eyes
- Fold the paper in half
- Decide on a paint color and emerge the string into the paint until completely covered
- Lift the string up and run your fingers down the string to remove excess paint
- Put the string in any design on ONE side of the paper
- Fold the other side of the paper over the string
- Gently pull the string out of the paper. Your grandchild can wiggle the string as she/he is pulling it out
- Open up the paper and look at your string art. Can you see a bug? Now, put some googly eyes on that bug!
#4: Sensory Play: Digging for Bugs in the Sandpile with Your Feet & Making Bugs from Playdoh
Let your grandkids find bugs in the sandpile using just their feet. They can wiggle and squish their feet around in the sand looking for buried bugs.
Another sensory activity is making bugs out of playdoh. Increase the sensory experience and add beads, glitter, little rocks, small Legos, etc., to the playdoh.
Why are sensory activities important for children?
Sensory play supports language development, fine and gross motor skills, problem-solving skills, social interaction, and the child’s ability to learn. Kids need sensory activities to grow and develop. As a grandparent, discover different ways of adding sensory play to the activities you do with your grandkids.
#5: Sensory Activity: Wiggly Rope Bug & Monster Bug
Sometimes the simplest games are the most fun for grandkids. There are two games we play every visit. We call them: Wiggly Rope Bug and Monster Bug.
For Wiggly Rope Bug you need a rope about 10-12 feet long (try Home Depot). One person is at each end wiggling the rope close to the ground so the grandkids can hop and jump over the rope without stepping on the rope.
Monster Bug requires no preparation and costs nothing. It’s like Hide-and-Seek only we call it “Monster Bug.” My husband and I hide our eyes and count to 25 and the grandkids run and hide. Our house has lots of nooks and crannies which makes it fun to hide in! Then we roar like a monster bug and look for the kids. This game is filled with lots of laughter and fun. At the end of each visit, we always ask our grandkids which two activities they liked best. Most of the time they say, “Monster Bug.”
#6: Grandkids in the Kitchen: Making an Edible Caterpillar
Making caterpillars out of Hostess snowballs has been around since I was a kid. The only color I could find was bright blue (they are usually pink & white).
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 8-10 Hostess cupcake snowballs
- A large piece of cardboard to put the caterpillar on –cover in colored paper
- Pipe cleaners
- Googly Eyes
- Frosting (white)
- Remove all the snowballs out of their wrappers
- Arrange the snowballs on the cardboard—winding them around like a caterpillar
- Cut the pipe cleaners in half and bend like a caterpillar leg. Put lots of legs around the caterpillar.
- Use frosting and put on the googly eyes, pom-pom mouth, and antennas.
#7: Books and Reading with Grandma
Grandkids LOVE books read to them! They cherish anytime they can snuggle next to grandma and listen to books.
Here are some fun books about bugs and insects. Turn it into an educational field trip and take your grandkids to the library or purchase books from Amazon and create your very own “Grandchildren’s Book Nook” in your home (used bookstores are also great places to find books). Reading books to grandkids is the best investment you can make for them.
- If at First You Do Not See by Ruth Brown,
- The Honeybee Man by Lela Nargi
- 100 Bugs: A Counting Book by Suzanne Kaufman
- The Very Ugly Bug by Liz Pichon
- The Mixed-Up Chameleon by Eric Carle
- Bug and Bear: A Story of True Friendship by Ann Bonwill
- The Bug Girl: A True Story by Sophia Spencer
#8: Movie: A Bug’s Life
After lots of activities, it’s nice to take a break and watch a movie. Our choice? “It’s a Bug’s Life.” It’s currently unavailable but check your library or Disney+ channel for a copy.
Pictures of Bugs and Insects are Worth a 1000 Words!
One thing our grandkids enjoy is the pictures I put on the walls where they create their projects. The pictures coincide with our weekly theme and add a fun touch to the room.
These pictures are from old calendars I’ve saved over the years. Look around for different calendars you think would work for different activities you do with your grandkids.
And, when I was in my Master Gardening program, one section was on bugs and insects. The professor brought in these enormous grasshoppers from Florida. They don’t jump or fly. I showed the pictures to my grandchildren and they were mesmerized!
What activities have you done lately with your grandchildren? Please share in the comment section below.
Are insects and bugs the same thing?
“Bug” is the word that most people use to describe anything that flies, crawls, or creeps. But scientists use the word “arthropod,” instead of bug or insect. Arthropods do not have backbones, the skeleton is on the outside of the body and the body is divided into segments.
There are two main types of arthropods: arachnids (spiders) and insects (bees, crickets, flies, caterpillars, beetles, etc.).
What kind of bugs are insects?
The word, “bugs” is a general term that can refer to one of the categories of anthropods: an insect or spider. Insects are one of the main types of arthropods and include bees, crickets, flies, caterpillars, ants, beetles, fleas, etc.
Are spiders insects or bugs?
Spiders are not insects. They belong to a class called arachnids. Insects belong to a class called Insecta and both spiders and insects are part of a larger group called arthropods.
According to Wikipedia, insects are the largest group within the arthropod phylum.