|Boys on a bug hunt - this is a common scene at preschool.|
We have a rule: it is okay to catch bugs in containers but once caught and observed they need to be released back where they were found.
We talk about this rule. The children can explain to you the reasons behind it. They will all nod and agree that they don't want to harm the bugs. Nod and agree that they don't want to be bitten by poisonous insects. Nod and agree that they wouldn't like to be carried around all day in a plastic container if they were a bug.
But their innate curiosity and interest in living creatures is strong, and they can be nodding and agreeing one moment and sneaking insects into their lockers to take home the next.
One day as I felt my frustration mounting after trotting out this rule all morning to the same group of children I had an Oprah "ah ha" moment. I remembered a comment left on this post by Donna from Irresistible Ideas for Play Based Learning:
When we bought plants for the "Hush Garden" the pots came in a tray with holes in the bottom which we have sunk into our bug garden and encourage the children to put their mini beasts in there so they can "keep" them ... and no we haven't told them there are holes in the bottom of the tray ... does that make us mean?!
"Let's make a bug world" I suggested to the kids. And then we were off!
The extra layers to our worm farm (sturdy circular plastic containers with holes in the bottom) proved perfect for the project. We half dug them into the ground in a shady spot:
Which were taped to a stick dug into the ground:
And written on the wood surrounding the bug worlds:
All that was left to do was to add our first residents to the bug world.
And books on insects were found to help us identify the bugs.
This is my absolute favorite thing about teaching and the emergent curriculum. An idea sparked by the children's interest takes off, and you are carried along by their enthusiasm, energy and engagement.
Scenes like this one of the proud builders of bug world sitting waiting to share their creations with their families at home time warm the cockles of my teacher heart:
It may not be the perfect solution, but I am more comfortable with bugs in bug world than bugs in hot little hands or plastic containers.
If you like the idea of bug worlds you may also be interested in previous posts on bug hotels here and here.
Or in this interesting idea to add to your outdoor playspace (I apologise but I can't for the life of me remember where they came from):