Shed some light on your knowledge of fireflies with this fun activity.
Shed some light on your knowledge of fireflies with this fun activity.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to get up close and personal with an insect? Many people shy away from these little critters, but insects are fascinating creatures once you get to know them.

Check out the following pages for some insect activities for kids that won't bug mom and dad.

Each activity is thoroughly explained and easy to do. Once you complete one activity, you'll be buzzing for more!

Insect Tunnel Rubbing Activity

Ever wondered how your insect friends live? Try this insect activity and make your very own insect tunnel blueprint.

Favorite Creature Activity

Mimic your favorite insect with this fun and easy activity.

Insect Word Game Activity

Combine your love for words and insects with this word puzzle.

Rotting Log Insect Activity

Rotting logs are home to many insects. Try this activity and pay your insect friends a little visit.

Insect Feeding Station Activity

Try this insect feeding station activity, and have your neighborhood insects buzzing with joy.

Lawn Insect Activity

Go on your very own lawn safari with this exciting insect activity.

Pill Bug and Isopod Home Activity

These two insect activities will keep you busy for hours. Observe pill bugs in their natural habitat and then make a comfy home for them to kick back and relax in.

Cricket Molting Activity

Try this fun insect activity and make your own cricket molting museum.

Firefly Activity

Fireflies are nature's flashlight. Try this activity and learn more about these unique insect.

Insect Word Game Answers

Resist the urge to look at the answers first. Try the insect word game activity beforehand.

Jump right in and continue reading to the next page, starting with the insect tunnel rubbing activity. Learn how to make rubbings of these insect highways.

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Insect Tunnel Rubbing Activity

Beetle tunnels make great rubbing designs.
Beetle tunnels make great rubbing designs.

Turn beetle tunnels into works of art with this one-of-a-kind insect tunnel rubbing activity.

What You'll Need:

  • Fallen log
  • Paper
  • Colored pencil
  • Crayon

When you go for a walk in the woods, look for a fallen log. If the bark has fallen off or is loose, you may see tunnels made on the log by beetles. The tunnels make interesting designs.

You can preserve the designs by making a rubbing of the tunnels. Put a sheet of paper over the tunnels and rub over the paper lightly with a colored pencil or the side of the crayon. Can you trace the path the beetles made?

Want to mimic your favorite insect or just learn more about it? Continue reading to find out how to education yourself on your favorite bugs.

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Favorite Creature Activity

Keep your insect friends in a safe place.
Keep your insect friends in a safe place.

If you could be any kind of small creature, what would you be? An ant? A dragonfly? A spider? There are many interesting, creepy, crawly creatures to choose from. Try this favorite creature activity and see which critter suits you best.

What You'll Need:

  • One or more books or poems on small creatures
  • Paper
  • Pen

Check out some books from your library about your favorite small creatures. Then write your own story or poem about a day in the life of an insect, spider, or other small creature: Where does it live? How does it work? What does it eat? Be creative and have fun!

Feel like playing an insect word game? Continue to the next page for another fun insect activity.

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Insect Word Game Activity

This insect word game is the definition of fun.
This insect word game is the definition of fun.

Each bug on the word list is hidden in the box. Can you find all of the words for this insect word game activity?

Look forward, backward, up, down, and diagonally (on a slant). Circle each one as you find it and cross it off the list. We found HORNET for you.

Having trouble finding all the words or just want to check if you're correct? Check out the answers to this word game here.

Continue to the next page for a fun rotting log insect activity.

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Rotting Log Insect Activity

A fallen log makes a perfect home for insects.
A fallen log makes a perfect home for insects.

Rotting logs are home to some fascinating creatures. Try this rotting log insect activity the next time you are exploring a forest or woodland. When you find a soft, decaying log, spend time discovering the organisms that live there.

What You'll Need:

  • Garden gloves
  • Magnifying glass
  • Small clear plastic jar
  • Notebook
  • Pencil or pen

Put on your garden gloves and get down on your hands and knees. Using your magnifying glass for a better look at the surface, look to see what lives there. You may find green plants, such moss or small seedlings.

You may find insects, such as beetles or termites. There may be other small creatures, such as wood lice and spiders. If you want a closer look at a small creature, catch it in the jar and observe it. (Let it go when you are done.)

Record your discoveries in your notebook. If you don't know the name of something you've found, draw its picture. If the wood is soft, break off a piece to see what kinds of creatures live inside. Termites, ants, and wood-boring beetles often live in logs.

Replace the wood when you are done. Record what you find in your notebook. Now turn the log over and see what lives underneath. The wood may be so rotten that it resembles soil. This is nature's way of recycling.

The nutrients that made up the tree's tissue are being returned to the soil for other plants to use. Lots of organisms here are associated with decay, such as millipedes that eat dead plant material, insects that also feed on the dead wood, and earthworms.

Ever wanted to have your own insect feeding station? On the next page you'll find out how to make one.

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Insect Feeding Station Activity

Insects will drink up your feeding station.
Insects will drink up your feeding station.

Build an insect feeding station and watch flying insects gather 'round. In the summer, you can make an outdoor warm-weather feeding station for butterflies, wasps and bees. Keep in mind that brightly colored bowls and sponges may attract more insects.

What You'll Need:

  • Measuring cup
  • Warm water
  • Honey
  • Bowl
  • Sponge
  • Bucket
  • Binoculars

HOW TO MAKE AN INSECT FEEDING STATION:

Step 1: Mix 1/2 cup of warm water with 1/2 cup of honey. Pour this into a bowl. Lay the sponge in the bowl. You want the honey-water solution to be just at the top of the sponge to keep it moist. You may have to remove some of the honey-water solution, or you may need to add more.

Step 2: Put the honey-water bowl in a yard or field. You'll want to lift it off the ground a bit. You can turn a bucket upside down, and put the bowl on top of the bucket. Leave for 1 hour, and then use binoculars to observe how your visitors drink the honey-water.

Safety

Pass up this activity if you or anybody near you is allergic to bee or wasp stings. Stay back as the wasps and bees visit the feeding station. They will usually not bother you unless you bother them.

Only remove the station when you are sure no wasps or bees are around. Hose off everything outside before you bring anything inside.

What Happened?

Many insects have a great sense of smell. The ones visiting your station may have detected the smell from 50 yards away. Wasps and bees are social insects, which means they live in hives.

When one member found the honey-water, she told other workers. This is why you might have noticed many wasps or bees at your station.

Butterflies and moths may have also fed at your station. Butterflies are active during the day, and moths are active at night. A butterfly drinks using a long, curled proboscis, which resembles a coiled straw.

Bees and wasps don't have proboscises; they drink using their long tongues.

Fun Fact

Butterflies have taste receptors in their feet! When they land on something that tastes good, their taste receptors stimulate their proboscis to unroll and suck up the sweet-tasting substance.

Continue to the next page for a fun insect activity you can do on your front lawn.

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Lawn Insect Activity

What do you see down there?
What do you see down there?

Spring and summer are the best times to take a lawn safari. You won't see much activity in the winter. Take a wire coat hanger and bend it into a square. Go out on your lawn or in a grassy park and toss the hanger on the grass.

What You'll Need:

  • Wire coat hanger
  • Magnifying glass
  • Notebook
  • Pencil

Study whatever in the grass is "framed" by the wire. Get down flat on your stomach and have a really close look. Use your magnifying glass as well. Search the grass inch by inch, blade by blade, and find as many animals as you can: earthworms, beetles, grubs, spiders, moths, and anything else.

Jot down what you see in your notebook. If you don't know the name of the animal, draw it. Adult insects have six legs while spiders and their kin have eight, so don't confuse spiders with insects.

Take your wire frame and toss it into another patch of grass and do the same thing. Do you find anything different?

Try comparing shady grass and sunny grass. Compare thin grass with thick, healthy grass. Are there any differences in the types of insects you find?

Find out how to observe pill bugs and how to build your very on isopod home on the next page.

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Pill Bug and Isopod Home Activities

Find pill bugs underneath stones
Find pill bugs underneath stones

Pill bugs, also known as roly-polies and isopods, live in many unusual places. Check under rocks, bushes and in the dirt to see if you can locate a few. Find, observe and experiment with this pill bug activity!

What You'll Need:

  • Pill bugs
  • Net
  • Jar
  • Paper plate
  • Magnifying glass

HOW TO FIND PILL BUGS:Step 1: Turn over a stone and see if pill bugs are underneath. Pill bugs, about the size of a fingernail, like dark, moist places. An oval shell covers them, and they have 7 pairs of legs.

Step 2: Scoop up a pill bug with your net or hands and place it in a jar.Step 3: Watch and experiment with the pill bug. Put it on the paper plate. Examine it with a magnifying glass. Count its legs. Touch it, and see what it does.

What Happened?

Pill bugs have 7 pairs of legs and breathe from gills. They have 2 main responses when they are disturbed: Some run, while others curl into a ball. When they curl up, their hard outer shells protect them from danger.

Pill bugs are also called potato bugs, wood lice, and roly-polies. Scientists call them isopods. You can create a home where they can reproduce.

What You'll Need:

  • Large plastic bowl with lid
  • Potting soil
  • Pushpin
  • Water
  • Stones
  • Potato Slices

HOW TO MAKE AN ISOPOD HOME:

Step 1: Get a large plastic bowl with a lid.

Step 2: Fill it 3/4 of the way with potting soil. Moisten the soil.

Step 3: Put stones on top of the soil.

Step 4: Using a pushpin, add small ventilation holes in the lid.

Step 5: Add a slice of potato and introduce 4 or 5 isopods.

Keep the soil moist, and add a slice of potato every week. Isopods should thrive in this environment. After a couple of months, you may ­notice little roly-polies running around.

Safety Tips

Look at the picture of the pill bug before you go searching. Pill bugs are harmless, but other organisms, such as millipedes, can bite. An adult should make holes in the plastic lid.

Use a cutting board so you do not damage furniture or countertops. Slices of potato should be cut only with the assistance of an adult.

Did you know that crickets molt? Learn how to make your very own cricket molting museum on the next page.

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Cricket Molting Activity

A cricket sheds its "skin" as it grows.
A cricket sheds its "skin" as it grows.

Insects have exoskeletons (hard outer coverings). As they grow, they reach a size where the exoskeletons prevent further growth.

They need to molt or shed these exoskeletons -- a slightly traumatic activity. They slip out of their shells and are left rubbery until new exoskeletons form. See little crickets molt into big crickets with this fun cricket molting activity.

What You'll Need:

  • Large plastic tub with lid
  • Wood
  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Sand
  • Paper cups
  • 2 plastic bottle caps
  • Cotton wool
  • Water
  • Dry pet food
  • Crickets
  • Pins
  • Cardboard

HOW TO MAKE A MOLTING MUSEUM FOR CRICKETS:Step 1: Take a plastic tub (such as the kind that contains frozen whipped cream). Put the lid on a piece of wood. With adult help, hammer 12 nail holes into the lid.Step 2: Put sand in the bottom of the tub. Add small paper cups, lying them on their sides. This gives the crickets room to hide.

Step 3: Pack a bottle cap loosely with cotton wool. Add water, and put the cap into the tub. This is the crickets' drinking source. Keep it wet.

Step 4: To feed the crickets, add ground-up dry dog or cat food to the other cap.

Step 5: Buy 10 young crickets from a pet store. Put them in the tub, and quickly put the lid on. Place the tub in a warm place in your home.

Step 6: Observe the crickets as they grow, and watch for signs of molting. After they molt, you can keep their shed exoskeletons.

Step 7: Create a molting museum by pinning shed exoskeletons on cardboard. Pin them from smallest to largest to show how they develop.

Create your own cricket molting museum. Create your own cricket molting museum.
Create your own cricket molting museum.

Safety Tip

Use nails and pins only with the assistance of an adult.

What Happened?

Crickets eat, drink, and develop muscle. As they grow, their exoskeletons become too small. It is like a child getting too big for his snowsuit. Eventually crickets shed their exoskeletons, which split in half.

The crickets emerge in a rubbery state. With no exoskeleton, they have no protection, making them especially likely to hide. Look carefully for them. Look carefully for the shed exoskeletons as well.

The cricket life cycle is an incomplete metamorphosis. Crickets do not become larvae and pupae; rather, newborn crickets are small forms of the adult. After growing and molting, they become adults.

Ever wanted to see a firefly up close and personal? Try the firefly activity on the next page and see for yourself.

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Firefly Activity

Fireflies are nature's flashlight.
Fireflies are nature's flashlight.

How do fireflies (otherwise known as "lightning bugs") glow in the dark? Try this firefly activity to find out.

What You'll Need:

  • Net
  • Bug jar
  • Digital watch
  • Paper
  • Pen
  • Flashlight
  • Aquarium
  • Mesh

On summer evenings, you might see fireflies flashing their lights. Catch a firefly with an insect net or with your hands. They tend to fly slowly, so they are not difficult to catch.

HOW TO OBSERVE FIREFLIES:

Step 1: Place the firefly in the bug jar and observe. Which part of its body produces the light? What color is the light?

Step 2: Use your digital watch to log the time between flashes. Do this for 10 minutes. What is the average amount of time between flashes?

Step 3: Now shine a flashlight on your firefly. Log the time between flashes. Do this for 10 minutes. How does shining the light affect the bug's flashes?

Step 4: Obtain more fireflies, and place them in an aquarium covered with mesh. Are there any patterns to their flashing?

Don't keep fireflies for more than a day. Be sure to release them where you found them.

What Happened?

The firefly is a beetle that produces light in its abdomen. It produces the glow from a chemical called luciferin. Fireflies regulate the light by controlling how much oxygen reaches the luciferin.

Different species use different light-flashing patterns. The main purpose of the light seems to be to attract mates. If you shine a light on the bug, it will light either less frequently or not at all.

Fun Fact

Larvae of many types of fireflies feed on snails. Ick!

Another Fun Fact

Bioluminescence is the production of cold light by living organisms. In addition to fireflies, other ­organisms such as fungi, squid, and even jellyfish can produce their own light!

On the next page you will find Insect Word Game Answers. Don't look at the answers before you try the insect word game puzzle!

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Insect Word Game Answers

Insect word game answers
Insect word game answers

Here are the answers to the insect word game found on this page.

How did you do?

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About the Craft Designers

Rotting Log Insect Activity and Lawn Insect Activity by Maria Birmingham, Karen E. Bledsoe and Kelly Milner Halls