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This toddler insect lesson plan involves learning about ants, ladybugs, and fireflies. Prepare for the lesson by posting pictures of these insects and their habitats onto a bulletin board. Open the lesson by offering age-appropriate information on each type of bug, such as its color and diet.
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Ant Song and Game
"The Ants Go Marching" is an upbeat children's song that not only allows toddlers to role play, but also to become familiar with the basics of counting to ten. Children will enjoy pretending to be ants that "go marching one by one", "two by two", and so on.
For this musical game, play "The Ants Go Marching" and show the children how to crawl like ants, beginning with one child and adding more to the group as the song continues.
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Ladybug Book and Craft
Since most toddlers love colorful pictures and fun stories, a reading of The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle is a wonderful way to familiarize young children with this type of insect. When reading this book to a group of toddlers, take time to point out the red and black body of the ladybug, the environment in which it lives, and the relationship of its size to that of larger animals in the story. After completing The Grouchy Ladybug, continue the insect toddler lesson plan with a cute ladybug craft.
Materials needed for ladybug craft:
- Whole white plain paper plates
- Plain white paper plates cut in half
- Black and red paint
- Sponges for spongepainting
- Brad clips
- Black construction paper (cut in the shape of a circle for the head and a smaller size circle for black dots ahead of time)
- White chalk
- Black pipe cleaners cut into 3 inch pieces
- Hole Punch
1. Have the toddlers sponge paint the whole paper plates with black paint. Have the toddlers sponge paint the half paper plates with red paint. Allow this part of the craft to dry before going on with the next step.
2. Use the brad clip to attach the two half plates to the whole paper plate. The black whole paper plate is the ladybug's body. The two red half paper plates are the ladybug's wings.
3. Give the toddlers a piece of white chalk and a pre-cut black construction paper circle. Ask the toddlers to use the chalk to draw the face of the ladybug. They may use the white glue to attach the ladybug's head at the point where the brad clip attaches the two wings to the body.
4. Give the toddlers the smaller black construction paper pre-cut circles to glue on to the wing portion of the ladybug. These are the black poka dots on the ladybug's wings.
5. Use the hole punch to punch out three holes on each side of the whole paper plate. Ask the toddlers to loop six pipe cleaners through each of the holes. You may need to help the children wrap the pipe cleaners around itself to secure it tightly.
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Firefly Book and Craft
Another Eric Carle book, The Very Lonely Firefly, is ideal for introducing toddlers to these brightly glowing insects. While reading the story, mention the shape of the firefly's body and wings, and point out the similarities of the insect's glowing abdomen to the other light sources that it encounters on its journey to find friends. Toddlers will enjoy seeing the built-in firefly lights at the book's conclusion, and they will then have the opportunity to decorate a paper firefly with colored tissue.
Materials for tissue paper firefly:
- Template of firefly (complete with head, body, antennae, and wings)
- White construction paper
- Tissue paper (variety of colors) for wings
- Yellow tissue paper for "light"
- School glue or glue sticks
In preparation for this project, photocopy the firefly template onto white construction paper, then cut out all of the fireflies.
1. Give each toddler a firefly-shaped cutout, and have them draw a face and decorate the top of the body with crayons.
2. Provide the children with different colors of tissue paper to glue on the wings of the firefly, and offer help as needed.
3. Hand out pieces of yellow tissue paper to glue onto the bottom of the firefly's body, making a "light" for the insect.
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Use the following activities to extend your group of toddlers knowledge about ants, ladybugs, and fireflies.
- Take the class outdoors on a "bug hunt" so that the children can observe insects in their natural environment.
- Set up a science discovery activity center in the classroom. Have various insect books and science materials that relate to the bug theme.
Author's experience as an early childhood educator