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Many children in the 3 to 4 year age group like to pretend that they are animals or creatures. Tap into that interest and have them learn at the same time with these activities on insect life.
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Preparing For Play Time: Making Antennae and Choosing Bug Songs
Dramatic play themes often involve costumes, and preschoolers can transform themselves into bugs by making antennae headpieces. The students can wear their antennae during all of the dramatic play activities.
Black plastic headbands (1 per student)
Black pipe cleaners (2 per student)
Black pom-poms (2 per student)
1) Assist the children in bending the bottoms of the pipe cleaners so that they will lie flat against the headband surface. Leave plenty of space for the rest of the pipe cleaners to stick straight into the air.
2) Ask the children to glue their pipe cleaners onto the headbands. When the glue dries, give each child two black pom-poms to glue onto the tops of their pipe cleaners.
Choose some songs about insects, spiders, and other creatures to play during the bug theme dramatic play session. Suggestions include "The Itsy-Bitsy Spider", "The Ants Go Marching", and "Itty Bitty Bug Song".
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Bug Theme Dramatic Play: Forming "Many Legged" Creatures
This activity allows preschool children to work together in creating multi-legged bugs. Instructors can also use this opportunity to teach a counting lesson.
1) Divide the students into groups of three. Ask the children to sit facing forward in a straight line, with one student directly behind another. Tell the children to stretch their legs to the side, forming "six-legged" creatures. Discuss the names of different insects and ask the students in each group to count the legs of their "bug".
2) Arrange the children into larger groups in order to form bugs that have more legs than insects do. Examples include:
--Grouping 4 children to make eight-legged spiders
--Grouping 7 children to make fourteen-legged pill bugs
--Grouping the whole class to make a many-legged centipede
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Dramatic Play Game: Ants At The Picnic
This bug theme dramatic play activity allows preschool children to pretend that they are ants in search of food. Teachers can introduce this game by telling the students that ants are drawn to food that is left outdoors and that they can carry pieces of food on their backs.
1) Set up a "picnic table" with a checkered tablecloth, a picnic basket, and plastic food items from a play kitchen set. Use a variety of plastic foods, including pieces of bread, apples, hot dogs, vegetables, and cookies.
2) Ask the children to position themselves on their hands and knees and to line up single-file.
3) Stand at the picnic table and call the "ants" over one by one. As each preschooler crawls to the picnic table, place a piece of plastic food on the child's back. Tell the "ants" to carry their food back to the middle of the room.
4) When all of the children have returned to the middle of the room, they can set the plastic food down on the floor and pretend to have their own "ant picnic".
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Engaging in dramatic play with a bug theme allows preschoolers to have fun while learning about how insects look and behave. Teachers may wish to take pictures of the "preschool bugs" to display in the classroom for parents to view.