Teaching at home can be stressful and require a lot of creativity as a parent. Combining subjects, like art and science, or using a hands-on approach can make learning more exciting and help keep kids engaged. Fortunately, there are a number of different activities and resources available to try. Here are a few suggestions for lessons on nature you can do together right in your own backyard.
Go on a Bug Hunt Adventure
Searching for insects can be a great way to encourage physical activity and build observational skills. Visit different places, both in your home and outdoors, to see what you can find. Talk about the characteristics of each species you notice such as size, color, and shape. Have your child take notes about what they find and write down anything they are curious about to learn more about later.
One of the things you might discuss as you explore are the various ecosystems each kind of insect lives in and why. Point out how factors in each setting are important for finding food, having shelter in bad weather, or hiding from predators. For example, grasshoppers are usually brown, gray, or green so they can blend in with the tall grass where they live and avoid becoming lunch for birds or toads.
Draw What You Discover
Combining observation with art can help your child strengthen their attention to detail and express themselves creatively. Whether you include sketching as part of your trip or do it later on, drawing pictures of insects like ladybugs or ants presents an opportunity to talk about the length of antennae, patterns like spots, the presence of wings, or the number of body segments each specimen has.
Maneuver through a Maze
Mazes help kids develop in several ways. First, tracing a route inside established lines strengthens fine motor skills. The process also requires visual focus and patience, increasing attention spans. Lastly, this type of puzzle teaches problem solving, which will prove vital throughout their lives.
Insect movement and behavior are excellent topics to pair with a maze activity. Explain how ants use pheromones to make trails that help them find their way around or how beetles, like lightning bugs, glow to communicate with each other. With younger kids, pretend to be bugs by crawling around a homemade obstacle course or build an ant farm where they watch the insects construct tunnels.
Tools for Teaching
The internet contains many free online worksheets and lesson plans parents can use as they homeschool. Educational websites often organize their materials based on subject or grade level. You can often find children’s activities through local extension services and businesses as well. Looking for a place to start? Download our activity book and give these ideas a try with your family.