Repost — Preschool Study Theme: Insects, Bugs, and Other Creepy Crawlies

I’m getting ready to launch a new project next week and I’m really excited to tell you all about it!  While I wrap up the loose ends, enjoy this repost from May of 2010.

Bugs are just plain fascinating for kids!  Send your little ones out on a search for ladybugs, rolly-pollies, or ants and they will scour the yard for hours,  well, tens of minutes.  But in the land of the little ones, that’s a very long time!

I like to lump all creepy crawlies together first, because the children tend to do the same.  The differences within the class of arthropods –  the class that includes insects, arachnids, myriapods, etc. – can be pretty technical.  I have to fall back on some high school biology or a site like this one to make sure I’m getting it right myself.  Within the theme, however, I do like to point out some of the different characteristics of insects and spiders and encourage the children to begin thinking about sorting and classification.  Then if you notice they are increasingly interested in one bug in particular, you can do a more in-depth study on that specific one.

Explore the world of bugs as you sing about them, move like them, paint them, and possibly even hold them!  I also love to use the topic of bugs to do an Eric Carle author study.  He has so many great bug books, it makes it very easy to provide a variety of excellent book activities by the same author while still following the theme.  You can examine and imitate his art method of painting paper and then cutting and gluing to create pictures, and even make your own mural.

Here are some of the concepts and objectives within the theme:

Concepts / Objectives Subject Areas/Skills
  • Characteristics of Insects
Science, Vocabulary
  • Comparison of Insects and Spiders
Science, Graphic Organizing
  • Author Study: Eric Carle
Language, Art
  • Numeral/Number Agreement
  • Word Identification
  • Representing Bugs Creatively
Science, Art, Fine Motor
  • Life Cycles
Science, Language
  • Imitating Bugs in Movement and Song
Science, Language, Large Motor, Music

Here is a bit of a brainstorm for activities involving those beloved bugs!  Those not yet linked will be linked back to this page as they are posted!

Eric Carle Author Study:


Fold-Art Butterflies

Filter Paper Butterflies – Try this idea.   As a variation, I have the little ones use colored water and eye-droppers.  I add a clothespin (unpainted-don’t judge me), but I’ve also seen pipecleaners used!

Painting Like Eric Carle

Build-A-Bug – Use playdough for the body and provide pipe-cleaners (legs, antennae, stripes), wax paper (wings), and anything else your-or their- imagination can conjure up to create a real or imaginary bug!


Butterfly Pasta

Ants on a Log (Try a new twist by using craisins as ladybugs)

Spider Cookies


Bugs in Sawdust

Gel Molds and Colors (I like to make connections between the eye droppers and liquid to the proboscis the butterfly uses.)

The Itsy Bitsy Spider’s Water Spout (Add plastic spiders and other bugs)

Bug Grab – Use this activity as-is, or add some plastic bugs as well!

Try outdoor themes where bugs would likely be found, such as camping or a picnic.  Add some plastic bugs and magnifiers to your usual props.


Flick a Fly – Hap Palmer

Bumblebee (Buzz Buzz) – Laurie Berkner (YouTube link)

Flight of the Bumblebee – Rimsky-Korsakov (YouTube link)(Listen, imagine, discuss, and move!)

Interesting Song and Poem List Here


Butterfly Life Cycle

There Was an Old Lady

Insects Vs Spiders

Bringing Bugs to the Classroom

I will be posting on this theme for the next few weeks and linking back to this page as an anchor to the unit.  Obviously, there are many more great ideas for activities on this topic.  I’d be on the same theme for a year if I tried to make it completely comprehensive.  So please, feel free to comment with ideas of your own as well!

Top photo by babinicz.

Second photo by iudit.



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