Teaching Kids about Backyard Bugs

By in Green Talk on 03 September 2010

The world of insects is fascinating. From walking sticks to butterflies to fireflies, the insect world delights and intrigues. Bugs are just creepy enough to invite further investigation, especially by children. You don’t have to have a science project in the works to enjoy getting out and teaching your kids about bugs.

One thing is certain – you will have no trouble finding bugs to study. There is not a backyard anywhere that does not have some insects flying, crawling, or scuttling along. So get ready to lift rocks and dig in the dirt! Kids and dirt are like peanut butter and jelly – let them enjoy the process.


If you really want to enjoy the teaching aspect of insect observation, get a good book on identifying bugs. Take this book with you – a field guide is optimal – to find the names of bugs on sight. Another option is to take pictures of the insects you see. Then review the photographs back at home and identify them by using the internet or books.


You can simply use your eyes to observe bugs, or you can get more elaborate. Some things to think about include the following:

  • Magnifying glass – The most simple of all bug observation tools, the magnifying glass is a handy tool to have. It can help you in finding a bug to begin with (many are hard to see), and in observing details once you’ve spotted it.
  • Bug vacuum – These interesting contraptions allow your child to suck up interesting insects and observe them without harming the bug. These vacuums usually come with an attached habitat with clear sides so your child can observe his quarry.
  • Bug viewer – There are various types of these – the most common sort has a clear cone on the top and a mirrored, cylindrical base. You scoop the bug up between the two parts, and then you can view it from all sides due to the mirrors. These viewers have a magnifying lens at the top of the cone.

Keeping a Record

Your child will want to remember her bug-hunting ventures. And keeping some sort of record enhances the educational aspect, too. After all, you have a better chance of correctly identifying insects of which you have a good record, and you can look up and record their habits and other interesting facts about them.

A good place to begin a record is with images. Encourage your child to draw or photograph the bugs she finds.

Scrapbook or Journal

Part of record keeping can involve a scrapbook or journal. The drawings or photos your child takes can be arranged in a book along with the date and notes about that particular insect.


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