Week Two: A “Bugly” Scavenger Hunt

from Wildlife Promise

Jennifer WardHello Green Hour visitors! This is Jenny Ward, author of I Love Dirt!: 52 Activities to Help You and Your Kids Discover the Wonders of Nature, and my brand new book, Let’s Go Outside!: Outdoor Activities and Projects to Get You and Your Kids Closer to Nature.

Taking time to observe nature feeds my muse and inspires the stories I write for children. Since my post last week, I was thrilled to discover a pair of Northern cardinals building a nest in my wee garden in the city. What a treat to watch them in action! In my same tiny outdoor space, I observed a dragonfly perch still as stone, and then take flight with striking speed and skilled precision during its hunt. Observing wildlife in action is such a great way to relieve stress and evoke a sense of wonder, for kids and adults alike.

That said, this week I want to share another activity from Let’s Go Outside! that pertains to observing all that’s buzzing about with the warm summer weather:

“The Bugliest Scavenger Hunt Ever!”

Bugs are everywhere in nature, regardless of whether you’re a city dweller or a country dweller. I encourage you to take a walk with your kids and see just what you can find as you embark on a Bugly Scavenger Hunt.

The Materials

As with all the activities in my parenting books, materials needed are primarily sensory. (I like to keep things simple!) For this activity, you might take a pad of paper and a pen to keep track of the different types of bugs you find on your journey. It’s important to be a savvy seeker for this particular scavenger hunt, which is designed for you and your child to seek out insects and bugs and observe them closely, carefully and quietly, without disturbing them.

Scavenge Away!

Explore a variety of places. Flowers are a great place to find bugs with wings. Are there any insects flying around them? Seek out obscure and hidden places, such as tree bark, the underside of leaves and down near the root of grass.

Challenge your seekers to see who can find the most bugs from the following categories and classifications. Decisions will be subjective, so children and adults alike must be able to defend their choices. : )

Categories*:

  • Largest bug
  • Smallest bug
  • Most beautiful bug (Remember, beauty is in the eye of the beholder!)
  • Ugliest bug
  • Scariest bug
  • Slowest bug
  • Cutest bug
  • Fastest bug
  • Busiest bug
  • Most common bug
  • Best camouflaged bug (Camouflage is when an animal blends in with its environment. Ask your child why it might be helpful for an animal to be camouflaged.)
  • Most interesting bug

*For each category, be able to draw its likeness, photograph it, or describe it in detail.

Basic Bug Classification:

  • Insects have three body parts and six legs
  • Arachnids have eight legs.
  • Roly-polies also known as wood louse, sow bugs, and potato bugs (they have a lot of names) are crustaceans and related to crabs. You’ll find them in moist places.

Finally, here are a couple of societies your child may want to check into:

  • Amateur Entomologists’ Society
  • Entomological Society of America

Take it Further – Entomology is the scientific study of insects. Technically, it does not include the study of earthworms, slugs or arachnids. Did you know that insects account for more than two-thirds of all known organisms living on our planet?

Here are some great places where you and your child can find fabulous collections of bugs on display:

  • National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C.
  • Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, California
  • American Museum of Natural History, New York City
  • Montreal Insectarium, Montreal, Canada
  • Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa, Canada

Happy trails out in nature!

Jennifer Ward is the author of I Love Dirt! and numerous children’s books, all of which present nature to kids. She lives in Illinois. Learn more about her at www.jenniferwardbooks.com.