Early Explorers Insects


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Our latest Early Explorers package from “Max and Mia” was all about bugs – sure to be a hit with my insect-loving boy! He didn’t waste any time finding out where some strange bugs (Goliath beetles! Army ants!) live on our world map, and dove into the booklet’s activities like matching, coloring, and patterns.

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Insects Craft:

Again, there was no craft in this months booklet, so we followed a suggestion from the blog. We’ve actually made clothespin bugs before, but back then Travis wasn’t very into it and the critters ended up being more mom creations… This time, his imagination had free reign!

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For a little lesson with the art, you can point out the three parts of an insect’s body – head, thorax, and abdomen. “Ideally” each clothespin bug can have three parts glued on to replicate this, whether from buttons, gems, pom poms, or other craft supplies.

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But Travis was so eager just to create that I more enjoyed watching him make fanciful bugs. He was very proud of the buttons and beads he selected, and insisted we also make a spider (technically not an insect) with pipe cleaner legs.

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Insects Science:

For a bug science activity, we also took a cue from the blog: a scavenger hunt using a template from Little Passport’s website.

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This was a great chance to find regular outdoorsy items like dandelions…

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… but most especially to use our new keepsake (more on that below).

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Travis was so proud finding little bugs with wings and especially this worm, which he coaxed right in.

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The walk was also a great lesson on letting things from nature go, so they can stay in their habitat once you’re done observing.

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Insects Keepsake:

As you can see from our scavenger hunt, the bug catcher/observer that came with the kit was a huge hit! In addition to bugs, try finding items around the house you can put in and magnify.

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Insects Field Trip:

Chances are that even if you don’t have a dedicated bug museum near you, there’s a children’s museum or science museum with a bug section. I knew of several that we’d been to, some recently, so instead I detoured us to a children’s museum we hadn’t visited since Travis was a baby.

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We searched for this blue beetle in his terrarium in the science room, and saw models of some neat favorites, like the Hercules beetle!

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Insects Further Activities:

Rather obviously, we had to use our keepsake to catch and observe bugs. In addition, we tried out the following suggestions from our booklet.

Draw pictures of your favorite bugs (or for younger kids, fill in coloring pages):

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Another nice fine motor activity was tracing the letters of the alphabet – each one for an insect that started with that letter – in the booklet.

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We headed to the library as another component of our unit. Because we already have a lot of great bug books at home (Usborne Books’ Early Beginners Bugs, the Big Book of Bugs by Yuvel Zommer, and The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle, to name a few), we thought it would be more informative to check out a documentary. Travis loved Bugs (narrated by Dame Judi Dench!) on insects from the Amazon rainforest, fascinating for kids and adults alike.

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Finally, we talked about all the bugs we’d caught, read about, and discussed, and which was our favorite. Travis decided upon the scorpion.


Pesto Perfection

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My son loves pesto so much he’s been known to eat it straight out of the jar by the spoonful. When I can get him to stop licking the spoon, pesto also makes it easy to upgrade a few kid favorites! Below are two of our favorite ways to take standard meals from everyday to gourmet. For jarred pesto, we love the dairy-free option from Meditalia.

Pesto Grilled Cheese:

Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil evenly over two slices of whole wheat or multigrain bread, spreading to the edges. Turn over and spread the other sides of the bread with 1 tablespoon pesto (homemade or jarred). Top with 1 or 2 slices of Daiya cheddar, and sandwich between the bread. Cook for about 3 minutes on each side over medium heat, until browned. Best served with a bowl of tomato soup!

Pesto Ravioli:

Instead of tomato sauce, we recently subbed in pesto over tofu-filled ravioli for a preschooler-approved dinner. For an extra gourmet touch, squeeze on a little lemon juice as well.

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Confetti Heart Art


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The heart-shaped sentiment of love in this artwork makes it perfect as a card or gift to a loved one. And kids will love making it, since it involves quite a few novel steps!

I told Travis that the first thing we needed for our craft today was lots of confetti, and he eagerly grabbed a pair of safety scissors and begin snipping construction paper alongside me. You’ll need the pieces to be quite tiny for the heart to come out right, so adults and bigger kids can make sure all the pieces are small enough. Note Travis’s look of concentration!

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Next we put all the confetti in a brown paper lunch bag, closed it tight, and shook it up for all the colors to mix. Set the confetti aside.

Draw a heart on one piece of paper (or use a heart-shaped stencil) and tape down to a second piece of paper. I recommend a sturdy background like watercolor paper.

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Next, have kids smear glue all around the heart – it doesn’t matter if a little gets on the heart cut-out as well, since you’ll be lifting that off shortly.

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Now it’s time for an explosion! Blow into the bag a few times to inflate it, then hold over the gluey paper and have your kids smack it with both hands for a pop. Blurry photo!

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Travis was thrilled to see the confetti flutter down.

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Clean-up was half of the fun for this one!

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Once the glue dries, peel off the heart shape, and you’ll have a beautiful confetti-outlined heart left in the center.

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