Kid Activities
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Insects and Bug Theme!

June 30, 2010 21:31 by Barbara Shelby

 

Note: This page contains  Art, Crafts, Games, Snacks, Poems /Songs and a Book list...they start towards the middle of the page and go down! ALL ABOUT collecting insects is at the page top...

Updated October, 2013

ALL ABOUT COLLECTING CRITTERS (Bugs/Insects)

FYI: 

By one estimate, about one million trillion insects are alive at any moment. So what would happen if all of these six-legged invertebrates were to suddenly vanish from our planet? The result would be catastrophic, according to Harvard University biologist Edward O. Wilson. Entire ecosystems would be destroyed… Unable to reproduce, plants that rely on insect pollinators would perish. So would trillions of organisms, including many reptiles, birds, and mammals that rely on insects for food. Without insects to aid in breaking down dead plant and animal matter, we'd soon be up to our necks in decay.

 Lift up anything on the ground and find little bug worlds "underneath". Many bugs hide among their favorite plants. Try a garden, yard, park, flowerbeds, hedges, and under rocks or logs.

  • Katydids are green just like the leaves.
  • Many moths are brown and look just like the bark on their favorite trees.
  • Butterflies are drawn to red, orange and pink flowers and also like phlox, alyssum, verbena, and herbs such as marjoram and thyme.
  • Look for beetles under fallen logs or rocks.
  • Crickets love cracks in sidewalks and buildings.
  • You might find the woolly bear caterpillar crawling across a sidewalk or on plants.
    Keep your eyes open for ants of all sizes---they are everywhere.

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HOW & WHERE TO SEARCH for CRITTERS...   

COMMON PLACES TO FIND INSECTS...
Insects inhabit every place on our planet except the ocean. Look for insects in these places:

  • Under boards and rocks – Look for ants, crickets, beetles, termites.
  • In or around streams, ponds, lakes – Look for mayflies, dragonflies,
    damselflies, stoneflies, caddis flies, aquatic beetles, true bugs, flies.
  • Under loose bark, in logs and stumps – Look for termites, ants and
    beetles — particularly bark beetles, tiger beetles, wood boring beetles.
  • On crops – Look for grasshoppers, beetles, flies, aphids, leafhoppers,
    spittlebugs, plant bugs.
  •  In the air – Look for butterflies, moths, flies, bees, wasps, beetles,
    leafhoppers, grasshoppers.
  •  In cellars and basements – Look for crickets, beetles, ants, bristletails.
  •  On livestock, pets, poultry – Look for fleas, sucking lice, chewing lice,
    flies.
  • Around outdoor lights at night – Look for moths, beetles, true bugs,
    mosquitoes.
  • Around dumps or piles of refuse – Look for cockroaches, earwigs,
    beetles, flies.
  • On manure piles – Look for flies, beetles.
  • In, around or on flowers and ornamental plants – Look for thrips,
    plant bugs, beetles, bees, wasps, ants, aphids, scale insects, walking
    sticks, insects galls, butterflies, moths.
  •  In houses – Look for crickets, cockroaches, beetles, ants, flies,
    mosquitoes, moths, termites, silverfish.
  • In clothes, furniture, stored food – Look for clothes moths, carpet
    beetles, flour beetles, bean weevils. (Info from MSU website)

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AT HOME...

If children are heading on a night-time hunt, instruct them try turning on a porch light, standing near a street light or shining a flashlight and you're sure to see some moths. With a large grassy lawn on a warm summer's night they’ll see the bright flickering of hundreds of fireflies. Fireflies and ladybugs are favorites among families.

SIGNS OF CRITTER LIFE include nibbled plant leaves or flowers.

  • Look on the stems and underneath the leaves or petals for hungry caterpillars and other insects.
  • Carefully lift up leaves, flowers and rocks to look for critters.
  • Listen as carefully as you look. Cicadas, for example, sing at dawn and dusk in the summer.
  • Peek on tree trunks. If you're lucky, you can watch a green cicada drying out on the tree trunk after crawling out of its brown nymph skin, which may still cling to the tree.
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IDENTIFYING INSECTS...

It may be difficult to correctly name what you've found, but here are some tips.

Insects are animals that have:

  • 1 pair of antennae
  • 2 pairs of wings (if any)
  • 3 pairs of legs
  • 3 body parts: head, thorax and abdomen
    and an exoskeleton ("exo" means their skeleton is on the outside!)

Count Legs: Insects have only six legs, but if it has eight legs as do spiders, ticks and scorpions, it is considered an arachnid, not an insect. A hairy spider could be a "wolf spider" that lives in the ground and moves very fast to catch its food.

  • Antennae? Most BUTTERFLIES have antennae that look like golf clubs with thick bumps at each end; MOTHS tend to have antennae that are straight or feathery.
  • If you want the official insect names, check out a field guide from the library; a good one for kids is the National Audubon Society's First Field Guide-Insects published by Scholastic.

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ARE YOU SPOTTING THE CRITTERS-- OR KEEPING THEM? 

Let your kids decide if you want to "catch" what you see or just spot what you see. If you want to catch, see the below post  for "critter keeper" directions. Your group may decide to just observe critters and chose to learn more about "what the critters do and how they live."

 WHEN INSECTS ARE CAPTURED AND BROUGHT INSIDE... Be sure to put a small cap full of water in the bug house and some leaves and twigs. Let children watch them, look at them with a magnifying glass and then release them back to their outdoor home.

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 MAKING A PLASTIC CRITTER-KEEPER JAR: If kids want to collect what they've found, make this keeper jar. Your critters can breathe and you can watch them closely. Add some grass, sticks, leaves or flowers and when you're finished watching, LET THE BUGS GO BACK TO THEIR OWN HOMES AGAIN!

What You'll Need:
28 or 40-ounce plastic peanut butter jar
Sharp scissors, (an adult's job)
Nylon netting, tulle, or fine wire mesh
Electrical or masking tape.
Optional: 2 chenille stems, paint markers, bug stickers
TIP: Use scraps of lace or netting and substitute masking tape and permanent markers to cut down on supply costs.

WHAT TO DO:

  • Remove the paper label. Have an adult  cut a small rectangular hole in the upper half of one side of the jar. Make it about 3 inches wide and 1-2 inches tall. 
  • Cut a piece of netting that is 1 inch wider than the hole and 3 times the height of hole plus 1 inch. Fold the netting into thirds so you have 3 layers of netting to cover the hole.
  • Stretch the netting layers over the hole and tape it in place along all 4 edges with electrical tape. Press tape firmly against jar. Decorate the tape with paint markers and bug stickers.
  • To make an optional handle: Wrap one chenille stem around the top of jar under the lid and twist ends together. Slide the ends of the other stem under the first one at opposite sides of jar. Hook the ends around it and twist to hold.

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HOW TO GET AN INSECT ZOO! Work with the children to set up a few insect traps on the play yard.
Things you will need:
Four small, clear, plastic cups, Shovels, Peanut butter:

Help the children dig four small holes in the dirt. The holes will need to be the same size as the plastic cups. Lower the plastic cups into the holes so that the brims are even with the Earth. Put a small scoop of peanut butter in each of the cups and cover it with a small layer of loose grass. That’s it! Wait a while and you will get a big surprise. In a few days, you will have an insect zoo for your insect aquarium...release insects after observing.

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 MAKE A "BUG INN"

Materials Needed:
One round oatmeal container
2 feet of fiberglass screening (from a hardware store) or
some donated old screens...
Craft knife (for adults only)
Markers or poster paint

1. Use markers or poster paint to decorate the outside of the oatmeal container.
2. Draw windows and a door on the container. With the craft knife, an adult should cut out windows and cut three sides to form your door, so it opens and closes.
3. Roll the screening so it rests tightly around the inside of the container.
4. Trim so the top edge fits beneath the lid and leave a one inch overlap where the side edges meets.
5. When 'guests' arrive at the Bug Inn, be sure to provide them with food, such as grass, or whatever they were eating when you found them.
6. Place a bottle cap filled with water in the container. When you are done observing your guests, please let them go back to their real homes.
.....This would be suitable for 5 years old and up.

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SNACKS...Want to turn the above into a Theme?

Just add some of the fun "EDIBLE CREEPY CRAWLIES" to your plans! Yumm...6 and 8 leg critters never tasted so good! This is followed by crafts, games, songs and a book list...

PEANUT BUTTER CATERPILLARS
Bananas
Peanut butter
Grapes
Chow Mein noodles
     • Peel and slice a banana. Join the slices together by "gluing" them with peanut butter. Carefully poke two Chow Mein noodles (or break a pretzel stick in half to make two pieces) through the top of the grape. Use more peanut butter to attach the head (grape) to the front of the body, with antennae (Chow Mein noodles) pointing up.
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ANTS IN THE SAND
Crushed graham crackers
Chocolate sprinkles
Snack sized re-sealable plastic bags
  • To crush graham crackers, place inside a large (gallon size) re-sealable plastic bag. Using a rolling pin, crunch crackers through the bag by rolling back and forth over them until they are all in crumb form.
Fill snack sized re-sealable bags halfway with graham cracker crumbs. Add a small handful of chocolate sprinkles to the bags and seal.
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ANT HILL Make  edible ant hills in cups!
Use clear plastic punch cups to see the layers.
1. For the 'dirt" layer--first put chocolate pudding into the cup.
2. Crush graham crackers in a plastic Ziploc bag and pour the crumbs into the cup for the anthill "sand".
3. Add chocolate chips or raisins for the "ants".

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GREAT "BUGGY" VEGGIE  SNACKS...

BUGS ON A LOG...
MAKE 'LOGS' from any of these foods:

  •  CELERY STALKS (cut to about 3 inches long)
  • APPLES (cut in halves or quarters with cores removed)
  • CARROT STICKS (cut to about 3 inches long)

FILL THE 'LOGS' WITH A SPREAD:

  • Cream Cheese
  • Cream cheese and pineapple
  • Cheese and pimento
  • Peanut butter
  • Egg salad

SPRINKLE 'BUGS' ON THE SPREAD:

  • Raisins
  • Golden raisins
  • Dried cranberries or cherries
  • Raisenettes candy
  • Unsweetened cereal
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Chopped peanuts of finely chopped walnuts
  • Mix in chopped apple or crushed pinapple

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COOKIE SPIDERS
Black or chocolate licorice twists
Fudge sandwich cookies
Chocolate frosting
Red cinnamon candies or chocolate chips or raisins for eyes

  • Cut licorice in half.
  • Remove the top of each sandwich cookie; press 8 licorice pieces into the fudge center to resemble spider legs.
  • Spread a little chocolate frosting over the licorice; replace cookie tops.
  • Frost the tops of the spider cookies with frosting. Place red cinnamon candies on top for eyes.
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MUENSTER CHEESE BEETLES

Crunchy Chow Mein noodles
Muenster cheese (or other soft block cheese)
• Cut the cheese into 2" x 1" rectangular blocks. Gently insert three Chow Mein noodles on each side of the cheese blocks for legs. Using two broken Chow Mein noodles, insert into the "head" as antennae.
Tip: Use softer cheese such as gouda, Havarti, Monterey jack, or mozzarella so cheese does not crumble Chow Mein noodle are inserted.

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MARSHMALLOW SPIDERS
You'll need a package of large marshmallows, pretzel sticks or chow mein noodles and mini M & M's or raisins.
  • Have the kids push four pretzel sticks or noodles into each side of the marshmallow as the spider's legs. These will make the marshmallow body of the spider actually stand on their spider legs.
Use another stick to poke two eye holes in the marshmallow; insert M&M's or raisins into place as the spider's eyes. (Image by KidActivities.net)

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CRACKER SPIDERS with peanut butter or cheese spread!
These arachnid treats are easy to make and they look positively lifelike crawling across the snack plate.
For each:
2 round crackers
2 teaspoons smooth peanut butter (or cheese spread if allergies)
8 small pretzel sticks
2 raisins
  • With the peanut butter, make a cracker sandwich. Insert eight pretzel "legs" into the filling. With a dab of peanut butter, set two raisin "eyes" on top. Makes 1. (Image by KidActivities.net) 
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THE ABOVE ARE ALSO GREAT WITH NUTELLA
Ingredients:
8 Ritz crackers
4-5 Tbsp. chocolate hazelnut spread, such as Nutella
thin pretzel sticks for decorating
Raisins or white chocolate chips for decorating
Directions:
1. Spread approximately one tablespoon of the chocolate hazelnut spread (Nutella) on four Ritz crackers. Top each with another Ritz cracker to make a sandwich.
2. Insert pretzel sticks on the sides of each cracker to make a spider's legs. 3. Make the spider's eyes by dabbing a bit of Nutella on the back of two raisins or white chocolate chips and placing them on top of the cracker sandwich. Make the spider's mouth the same way, using the Nutella as glue for the white chocolate chips or raisins, and arranging them in the shape of a mouth.
4. Serve and eat!
Makes 4 crunchy

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BUTTERFLY BITES #1

Ingredients:
Stalks of celery, Twist pretzels, Pretzel pieces, Raisins and Spreadable cheddar, any cream cheese or peanut butter

Directions:
Wash celery and cut in half crosswise. Fill each celery piece with 1-tablespoon cheddar cheese, cream cheese or peanut butter. Add two pretzel twists for wings. Use pretzel pieces for antennae and raisins for decoration. Eat your butterfly before it files away!

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DRINK BUG JUICE! Sprinkle a few raisins in glasses/cups of apple juice or apple cider...or add raisins to water before freezing for ice-cubes.

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 BUTTERFLY BITES #2Put out apple slices, mini carrots, pretzel sticks and raisins or dried cranberries. Have kids use apple slices for the wings, the carrot for the body and pretzel sticks for antennae, Decorate with raisins. Photo by KidActivities

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EASY CATERPILLAR CAKE...Ingredients: Cake mix (Confetti nice for this)
Frosting
Green or yellow food coloring
Coconut
Pretzels 
Prepare cake mix as directed on box and bake in bunt pan.
Cut the cake in half and lay the two pieces together IN A CURVE---for the caterpillar body.

(A photo of this cake done up as a 'Worm' is in the Worm Theme...)

Color the frosting green or yellow (your choice) and spread on cooled cake.
Sprinkle coconut so the caterpillar looks fuzzy.
Add straight pretzels for antennas.
Add other facial details as desired

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 CREEPY CRAWLERS
1 lg. pkg. butterscotch chips
1 lg. pkg. milk chocolate chips
1/4 c. butter
1 (5 oz.) can chow mein noodles
1 to 2 tbsp. water
  • Melt chips and butter in double boiler or glass bowl in microwave. Stir to mix. Gradually add small amounts of water to thicken mixture. Stir in noodles and mix to coat in chocolate mixture. Drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper.

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ARTS & CRAFTS... (Critter Jar up above...)

A cool idea from Shannon Stewart at Stetson School...INSECTS UNDER MAGNIFYING GLASS

  

  

 

 

 

 

 

 A "Bumble Bee picture" is in Art Gallery: Grades 1 to 3. These images were made by 3rd graders.

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BUTTERFLY FEET
Paint the bottom of children's feet with non-toxic tempera paint. Have the child step onto a piece of paper with their feet and heels together. When dry, have children add antennae with crayons, markers or yarn.

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FINGER PRINT BUGS
Dip thumbs in washable paint to  make 'thumbprint' bodies on paper. Have children decorate insect bodies by drawing in legs and antennae.

PAINT THUMB PRINT PICTUES with Watercolor Tins. 

 

1.  Prime the paints by placing a bead of water on each color.
2.  Stick your thumb in a watercolor pan.
3.  Make a thumbprint on the paper.
4.  When it is dry, add lines to make it a bug.

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 CREATE AN EGG CARTON BUG!

Materials: Cotton balls, egg cartons, paint/markers, google eyes, pipe cleaners, construction paper, glitter, any other material the children may want to use.
Cut the egg cartons in separate 1 to 3 hump-pieces and put them out with a variety of the above supplies. See where the children's imaginations will take them! 

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CATERPILLAR
Materials:
Plastic-Foam meat tray
Hole puncher
Yarn and Pen

  •  Cut circles from a thoroughly sanitized plastic-foam meat tray.
  • With a hole puncher, punch a hole through the center of each circle.
  • Tie a knot in one end of a piece of yarn.
  • Push the other end of the yarn through the hole in each circle.
  • When your caterpillar is as long as you want, knot the second end of the yarn, leaving some yarn behind the knot for a tail.
  • Draw a face on the front circle. You now have a Caterpillar!
  • You can also make the caterpillars with long sections of egg cartons-such as the above bugs!

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 Back to top of page

 Visit the Joke Category of Fleas, Flies & Spiders 

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GAMES...

 PLAY...CATERPILLAR IN THE GARDEN
1.  Divide your guests into two teams.
2.  Line the children up in two columns, one child behind the other, at the start line.
3.  Have each child put his or her hands on the waist of the child in front of them, forming a "caterpillar."
4,  When you say, "Wiggle!" each team must run, staying connected, to the finish line.
5.  If a team becomes disconnected, they must stop and reconnect before continuing.
6.  The first team to the finish line wins.
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BEES IN THE GARDEN
Need:
A Large Piece of White Poster Board
A Black Marker
Any Colored Marker (optional)
Scissors or an X-Acto Knife
At Least 3 Plastic Yellow Easter Eggs
1.  Draw a flower shape on the large piece of poster board.
2.  If this game is being played by younger children, make sure the center of the flower is about 7" - 8" in diameter. If  youth are older, make the center smaller (i.e. no smaller than 5" in diameter).
3.  Cut the center out of the flower.
4.  Color or paint the flower petals.
5.  Attach the flower to a stake or stick that can be placed in the ground.
6.  Make the three "bees" by drawing black stripes and antennae on plastic yellow Easter eggs.
TO PLAY: Place your flower in the ground, and draw a line about 6 feet in front of it. Line children up behind the line. Let each child try to toss each "bee" through the center of the flower.

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SONGS, POEMS AND FINGER PLAY...

HUNTING BUGS (Author Unknown)
Sung to: A- Hunting we will go

A-hunting we will go
A -hunting we will go
We'll catch a ______ (insert any insect here)
and put it in a box...
(loudly) and then we'll let it go!

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BUGGY ANATOMY GAME...
To tune of: London Bridge is Falling Down
 
Head and thorax, abdomen, abdomen, abdomen.
Head and thorax, abdomen, That's an insect.
 
Every insect has six legs, has six legs, has six legs.
Every insect has six legs, that's an insect.
 
Antennae to feel their way, feel their way, feel their way.
Antennae to feel their way, that's an insect.

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BUGS

June bug, stink bug,
Ladybug, chinch bug,
Water bug, pink bug,
Please-don't-pinch bug!

Horsefly, housefly,
Dragonfly, deer fly,
Firefly, fruit fly,
Buzzing-in-your-ear fly!

Honeybee, bumblebee,
Queen bee, drone bee,
Worker bee, nurse bee,
Leave-me-alone bee!

Gypsy moth, luna moth,
Beetle and mosquito,
Bugs and insects
Really are neat-o!

Cockroach, katydid,
Cricket and cicada,
Grasshopper, mantis,
Catch you all later!
Author Unknown

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IT'S AN INSECT (This would be great fun to go with one of the 'Creepy Crawlie Snack ideas)
To tune of: My Darling Clementine

It's an insect
Not a spider
it has six legs--instead of eight.
 
3 on this side
3 on that side...and it's crawling on my plate!

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WE'RE GOING ON A BUG HUNT...
Rhymed to: "We're Going on a Bear Hunt"

We're going on a bug hunt!
We're going to catch some big ones.
What a sunny day!
Are you ready? OK!

Oh my! A bee!
A black & yellow bee,
Flying over the flowers.
BUZZ.....

We're going on a bug hunt!
We're going to catch some big ones.
What a sunny day!
Are you ready? OK!

Oh, my! An ant!
A tiny, black ant,
Crawling through the grass.
Shh...

We're going on a bug hunt!
We're going to catch some big ones.
What a sunny day!
Are you ready? OK!

Oh, my! A grasshopper!
A big, green grasshopper,
Hopping around the tree.
Boing, boing...

We're going on a bug hunt!
We're going to catch some big ones.
What a sunny day!
Are you ready? OK!

Oh, my! A butterfly!
A pretty, orange butterfly,
Floating in the sky.
Whoosh, whoosh...

We're going on bug hunt!
We're going to catch some big ones.
What a sunny day!
Are you ready? OK!

Oh my! A spider!
A big black spider,
Creeping on the tree. Creep, creep...
(Author Unknown)

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FUZZY WUZZY CATERPILLAR

Fuzzy wuzzy caterpillar in the garden creeps
He spins himself a blanket and soon falls fast asleep.
Fuzzy wuzzy caterpillar wakes up by and by...
To find he has wings of beauty, changed to a butterfly.

Pretty little butterfly, what do you do all day?
I fly around the flowerpots, nothing' to do but play.
Nothing' to do but play, darling', nothing' to do but play.
So fly butterfly, fly butterfly, don't waste your time away. (Author Unknown)

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Caterpillar Chant 
Original Author Unknown

A caterpillar looks so small.
It is hardly there at all.
It munches on green leafy treats,
And it gets bigger as it eats.

It eats and eats, 'til pretty soon,
It wraps up tight in a cocoon.
When it wakes up it blinks its eyes
And says, "I'm now a butterfly!"

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If you like Insects... Click here for our great 'WORM THEME'!

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BOOKS ABOUT BUGS ( LISTED A-Z)

Amazing Anthony Ant by Lorna & Graham Philpot
Amazing World of Butterflies and Moths by Louis SabinAnts 
Armies of Ants by Walter Retan

Backyard Insects by Millicent E. Seisam
Big Bad Bugsby Tracey E. Dils
Bugs by Heather Amery & Jane Songi
Bugs by Nancy Winslow Parker & Joan Richards Wright
Bugs: A closer look at the world's tiny creatures by Jinny Johnson
Butterflies and Moths by John Leigh-Pemberton
Butterfliesby Elizabeth Elias Kaufman
Butterflies Bugs and Wormsby Sally Morgan
Butterflies and Moths by Angels Julivert
Buzz! A book about Insects by Melvin Berger   

Camouflage in Nature by National Audubon Society
Can You Find Me? by Jennifer Dewey
Can You Find Me? A book about Camouflage by Jennifer Dewey
Close Up by Frank B. Edwards
Creepy Crawlies by Cathy Kilpatrick 
Creepy Crawly Baby Bugs by Sandra Markle

Disguises and Surprises by Claire Llewellyn

First Field Guide Insects by National Audbudon Society 

How Do Flies Walk Upside Down? by Melvin & Gilda Berger 

I Can Read About Creepy Crawly Creatures by C.J. Naden
I Can Read About Insects by Deborah Merrians
I Wish I Were A Butterfly by James Howe 
Insects Do The Strangest Things  by Leonora & Arthur Hornblow
Insects A True Book by Illa Podendorf
 
Ladybugby Barrie Watts

Monster Bugs by Lucille Recht Penner

Our Insect Allies  by National Aududon Society

Questions and Answers About Bees .by Betty Polisar Reigot
Quick as a Cricket by Audry Wood

Spiders Spin Webs by Amanda O'Neill

The Big Bug Searchby Caroline Young
The Caterpillar and the Polliwog by Jack Kent
The Creepy, Crawly Book by Bobbi Kate
The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle
The Ladybug and other insects  by Scholastic
The Magic School Bus "Gets Ants in its Joanna Cole
The Magic School Bus "Butterflies and the Bog Beast".by Joanna Cole
The Magic School Bus "Inside a Beehive" by Joanna Cole
The Spider Makes a Web by Joan M. Lezau
The Very Quiet Cricket by Eric Carle

What's Inside? Insects by Scholastic
What Is An Insect? by Jenifer W. Day
What Is An Insect? by Robert Snedden
World's Weirdest Bugs .....by M.L.Roberts 
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Some other pages that may interest you are: