Once a month, at our home, we enjoy preschool co-op activities with a group of friends. We have children ages 3 months to 6 years who participate in our co-op. Last spring, we studied a themed insect unit.
In this post, I am going to share with you our Montessori inspired insect activities for kids. The activities include: hatching butterflies, examining "real" insects, Montessori insect puzzles, fine motor work, and more!
Insect Themed Co-Op Space
In the photo below, you can see an example of how our at home co-op room is set-up. I have a bookshelf full of insect books and I choose 2-3 to read to the children at the beginning of our co-op session. There is also a Montessori shelf full of works for the children to explore and a table in the center of the room for six children to sit around. The children can also sit on the floor with a mat to do their work if they desire.
Montessori Insect Puzzles
The children enjoy using the Montessori insect puzzles. As the children manipulate the various pieces of the puzzles, we discuss the anatomical parts of an insect. An insect has: a head with compound eyes, antenna, mouth parts, thorax, abdomen, wings, and six legs.
It is also fun for the children to use hand-made felt puzzles. These felt puzzles can be used in combination with the Montessori wooden puzzles or as a substitute for the more expensive wooden puzzles. The various textures of wood versus felt is a learning experience for the child. Dr. Montessori believed that “ the hand is the instrument of the mind.” It also helps the child develop the fine motor (pincer grasp) of their hands. This helps prepare them for writing later.
The children also enjoy using plastic insect figurines to create impressions in play dough. These insect impressions really help to emphasize the various anatomical parts of the insect.
Montessori Inspired Transfer Activities
Toddlers love to work on fun fine motor transfer activities. I set up little containers with construction paper flowers taped to the top cover. The containers were filled with various sized yellow and orange pom poms. I also included tweezers and an empty egg carton. The child can pretend to be an insect visiting the flower, collecting the pollen (pom poms), and transporting them back to the hive (egg carton). My two year old daughter loved this activity!
Another transfer activity for the older preschool aged child is using a dropper, yellow colored water, and a honeycomb mat (hot pad). This is the same concept, as described above, for the child to pretend to be a honey bee transferring pollen from the flower (bowl) to the honeycomb (hot pad mat).
Note: The Honey Bee Life-Cycle Spinners are a FREE printable for Mama's Happy Hive subscribers. You will need to subscribe and receive a password to download the printable.
Observation of Real Insects
To end our themed study of insects we observed real insects throughout the month and beyond. My son adores insects and he loves to catch pill bugs, ladybugs, and grasshoppers. He will beg to keep them in his little insect terrarium and asks me to Google what to feed the little critters. So we will add raisins, carrots, and spinach to the terrarium with a small cap of water.
We also collect "dead" insects on our walks around the neighborhood. Once an insect has died, it makes a great specimen for close-up observations. This is especially useful with bees. Once they have died, they can no longer sting but it is fascinating to hold them in your hand and look closely at their tiny wings and legs.
Lastly, we ordered a butterfly kit on Amazon and hatched our very own butterflies! This was an epic experience to observe the caterpillar, cocoon, and then the hatching butterfly. It was also beautiful to release the new butterfly into the open air. These little creatures are so amazing!
You may also enjoy our other insect blog posts:
Montessori 2019 Series: Spring Activities
Rainbow Salt Tray Sensory Writing Activities | Natural Beach Living
Moth and Butterfly Life Cycle Printables for Kids | The Natural Homeschool
How to Prepare Montessori Shelves for a Mini Spring Unit | Living Montessori Now
Montessori Inspired Insect Activities for Kids | Mama’s Happy Hive
Introducing Life Cycles to Younger Kids | The Pinay Homeschooler