What’s that over there? It’s an ant, or maybe it’s an earwig. Is that a caterpillar, and what kind of butterfly will it turn into? Summertime brings out a wide variety of insects and other little critters who will intrigue and creep out kids of all ages. The less hectic months are also the perfect time to do something different with students while working on skills and IEP goals. Take some time to embrace all of the bugs around us and use them within your sessions to actively engage the kids.
While it is not practical to head outside to search for different insects, you can create a fun bug hunt inside to keep kids moving and working together as a team. Place photos of different insects around a room, or use those realistic plastic toy ones that you can often purchase at the dollar store. Give all of your explorers a magnifying glass so they can be nature detectives. Make this activity into an interactive eye spy kind of game. Have the kids ask questions about the mystery insect and answer them so they may figure out which you are talking about. As they find the bug that you are searching for, take some time to make observations about it. For older children, a nice team building spin-off would be to have a map with clues and riddles for finding the different insects. If your space does not work for something like this, put the insects into a plastic container and hide them within. Make it more of a sensory seek and find activity.
To keep going with the insect theme, make a bug maze game. Put insect words, vocabulary, cues, or pictures on laminated squares and connect them with yarn or painters tape. The focus could be on whatever skills the kids in your sessions are working on. Kids can roll a giant die and move to a certain square and read what they need to do next. For gross motor skills, it can hop like a grasshopper three times. Fine motor skills may have kids use tweezers to pick up a certain number of bugs from a little toy jar. Speech and language students could focus on articulation and word use in a sentence. Think outside of the box and make activity cards that are specific to your group and student needs.
To culminate the bug fun, allow everyone to create an insect to take home and share with their families. There are a lot of great patterns on Pinterest, or simply give supplies and allow kids to be creative on their own. Create stories about the bugs and encourage kids to share them at home. Write a note to parents and include translations to help multilingual families with continuing the discussions at home.
Keep on exploring like your kids do with insects by exploring our newest school-based opportunities! Check them out here.