Bugs Galore by Peter Stein is one of my new favorite children's books! The illustrations are so fun and so is the writing. Something about it made my toddler belly laugh!
After reading Bugs Galore, we explored our own bugs in two bug sensory bins. One was filled with coffee beans and the other with paper Easter grass - both were topped with plastic bugs. I didn't think about it far enough in advance to procure them, but a net and/or magnifying glass would have been a good addition to these sensory bins.
I loved using coffee because it had both a cool feel and an interesting aroma - and it seems that smell is a sense that is typically neglected in planning sensory activities, so that was nice for a change. Both bins were fun and offered very contrasting feels and colors. The bugs were fun to feel as well and my toddler enjoyed pointing at each body part and asking "that?," as I identified wings, legs, tails and more. Of course, it was very important to be attentive so that no coffee beans (or bugs) were accidentally ingested.
As a part of our activities about bumblebees, we read a book called Bumblebee by J.V. Wilson and Adrienne Kennaway. I found the book to be interesting and informative, but it really was not appropriate for a toddler, as it was quite long. I think older kids could really enjoy learning about the life cycle of the queen bee, different bee types and how a hive operates - but it didn't hold the interest of my 18 month old. This mismatch was my fault, however, as I put the book on hold at the library from home and picked it up without looking inside first. So while I wish I could give you a better recommendation on a book about bumblebees for a toddler, all I can do for now is say that this one is probably better for preschoolers. Our activities, however, were a little more engaging!
We started our caterpillar/butterfly day by reading Percival the Plain Little Caterpillar by Helen Brawley. This was a fun book because it feature sparkly inset colors that were fun for a toddler to feel and look at. It was also a nice bridge between and bug week because it told the story of a little caterpillar who saw lots of colorful bugs/animals/plants around him and wanted to be colorful like them. Percival got a nice surprise when he awoke from a long sleep inside his cocoon. This also fit in nicely with the butterfly craft we did today, as you'll see below.
We also read Good Night, Sweet Butterflies by Dawn Bentley, which we saved for nap time (for obvious reasons!). Again, this story was a great way to continue incorporating colors, as readers say good night to each butterfly, color by color. It was also a tactile book, with butterflies raised out of the pages to feel.
Coffee Filter Butterflies
I have been trying hard lately to choose art projects that focus on process rather than product. I'm finding that process focused crafts are more fun for my 18 month old, more "successful" (because they don't really have a definition of success), and I think they are far more beneficial for little ones than projects that involve gluing together construction paper.
Our coffee filter butterfly craft was a simple project that focused on process, provided a sensory experience (unintentionally) and also yielded a cute product that aligned nicely with Percival the Plain Little Caterpillar. We simply used water colors to paint a white coffee filter, allowed it to dry, and then used half of a brown pipe cleaner to make the body. I pinched the coffee filter in the center and wrapped the pipe cleaner around the pinched section, then twisted the ends together to hold it in place and create two antennae.
This was T's first time with watercolors, but he quickly grasped the concept of moving back and forth between water, paint, and his "canvas." He enjoyed splashing the paintbrush in the water, and I made sure to use a shallow dish rather than a cup so that it was easier for him to reach in. He did sort of make a mess out of the paints (he didn't understand not to mix the colors), but it was easy to fix by blotting off the top layer of each color with a paper towel when he was finished. I did help him a bit to shake some water off before dipping into the paint, and I had to demonstrate the process a few times, but he caught on fast and really enjoyed himself. And the product was adorable! He liked holding the butterfly up in the air and watching it float down to the ground.
A trip to the Butterfly Farm
At first I had no idea what outing to plan for bug week. With a little searching I found that butterfly farms/gardens/houses were a popular attraction near us - there were three located less than an hour away. Only one was operational at this time of year (the others aren't in full swing until the end of June), so we made our way there to see some butterflies. We had such a great time! It was a family operated butterfly farm that raised butterflies and grew gardens to attract them. My husband and I learned about the butterfly life cycle and anatomy and T had a great time feeling caterpillars and chrysalises, holding butterflies, and planting a butterfly host plant to take home with us.
Former science teacher. Work-at-home mom to a toddler. Attempting to enrich our days with intentional play and exciting experiences to expand a growing little mind.