With warm weather finally here, our kids are saying hello again to all of the insects and small creatures of the great outdoors. We haven't missed the mosquitoes, but we are so happy to see the ladybugs, butterflies, ants, and frogs again.
Did you know that you can bring the bugs and other favorite creatures indoors? You might be thinking this sounds like a truly terrible idea, but with the clever kits below, you'll be glad to share your home with your child's new pets. And there's no better, more enthralling introduction to biology than watching up close as these creatures go through their life cycle. Have your children participate in their pets' care, make drawings, keep journals, and most of all enjoy!
Ladybug Land by Insect Lore
Ladybugs are always a big hit with the preschool crowd. And why not? They are friendly, pretty, all around charming insects. We know them well in their red and black spotted form, but how do they get to be this way? How do they grow? With this excellent kit from Insect Lore, you and your ladybug-lovers can watch them develop from larvae to adults, until it is time to release them. (The kit comes with a coupon for the larvae, which you must then send away for.) Adults and children alike adore this project.
Butterfly Garden by Insect Lore
The transformation of caterpillar to butterfly is one of nature's miracles. Young children tend to be well-versed in the topic thanks to Eric Carle's wonderful The Very Hungry Caterpillar. But even Carle's classic can't quite live up to the wonder of watching the real thing. That's why this Live Butterfly Garden is such a huge hit with kids and families. The observation chamber is easy to assemble, and the larvae arrive (separately) with clear instructions for their care, and all the supplies they need. It takes about three weeks for the metamorphosis to take place, from larvae to chrysalis to full-fledged butterfly. After a few days of observation, it's time to release the painted ladies to the garden (in temperature of over 55 degrees, please!). What an experience!
AntWorks Illuminated Blue by Fascinations
Ants are the most ubiquitous of insects, and also one of the most mysterious. We watch them toting away crumbs, and preschool types often enjoy building tiny obstacle courses for these determined little creatures. But when happens when they go underground? Curious kids can see exactly how they burrow their tunnels in this fascinating ant farm. They burrow in illuminated blue nutrient gel for all to see, and it's hard to take one's eyes away. A huge hit with insect lovers of all ages.
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