Preschool Inspirations

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DIY Bug Observation Station

DIY Bug Observation Station Preschool Inspirations

Here is another post from the fantastic and very knowledgeable Marta*. This is a wonderful tutorial on how to create a space for children to observe bugs! We hope you enjoy creating one with some sweethearts, and if you’re lucky enough to catch several bugs, you could make your very own “BugLand.”

DIY Bug “Observation Station”

It is really easy to dive into the world of insects…and the great thing is that it doesn’t cost much at all! In our home, we have a “no kill” rule. We do NOT kill insects (with the exception of those that could harm us or our garden – black widow spiders, squash bugs, centipedes, mosquitos, house flies, anything at “infestation” level, etc.). Instead, we gently capture insects with a Bug Observation Station. We use identification books and/or the internet to identify the bug. We take a lot of pictures to document our new find and the pictures get printed for our Proof Book portion of my son’s bug collection. If we find a dead bug, then it gets added to the actual bug collection. Below are some suggestions to help you dive (inexpensively) into the bug world:

1. A Bug Observation Station is any container that will allow you to safely and gently capture a bug and observe it for some period of time. A good Observation Station will:

a. Have an opening large enough to safely “scoop” up bugs of various sizes and including flying bugs;

b. Have at least 1 side “clear” enough to see through in order to observe the bug; although multiple clear sides is better as bugs tend to be active and fast!

c. Have a securely fitting lid for safe containment;

d. Have multiple small holes in the lid for air flow;

01. BOS supplies

2. To make a cheap Observation Station, you can reuse any clear plastic container with a large opening. The square shaped containers – such as bulk peanuts or couscous containers – are the best. The straight sides are easier to take pictures through compared to curved bottles. However, if all you have is a curved plastic bottle you can still start with that (as long as the opening is big enough)!

02. use peanut butter to clean03. Cleaned containers

3. Completely empty the container and clean thoroughly with mild dish soap if necessary. Remove any stickers or packaging labels. I use a small amount of peanut butter to remove the sticky residue that can remain.

04. Poke air holes

4. Using a small screwdriver or nut pick (or any other small, sturdy, semi-sharp tool) poke several small holes in the lid. I find it easiest to heat the end of the metal tool over the stove – it cuts through plastic with so much less effort! You will need several small air holes to allow sufficient air for your bug.

5. You are now ready to go bug hunting! Depending on the insect, I like to put a leaf or twig in the Observation Station to encourage our bugs to remain active or find shelter.


6. If you can properly identify your bug, you may choose to keep it for several days to make observations about it. Please do this only if you can meet all the needs of the creature: food, water, shelter, etc.

05. Finished BOS

7. NOTE: while there are only a few types of dangerous bugs (spiders, for example), there are a lot of other bugs that can carry a painful bite. If at all possible, identify your bug before you try to capture it. Use common sense – if you cannot easily capture a bug without putting yourself in potential harm’s way, then please don’t attempt to capture. Use a camera from a safe distance.

a. I will often use a camera to get close-ups first, which I use to identify our find with

b. We always relocate (rescue) the bugs we have observed.

06. example of identification books

A sample of our collection of identification books. We have a bookshelf dedicated to identification books: rocks, birds, flowers/plants, reptiles and amphibians, fossils, etc. The boys know how to get the bug-specific books off the shelf and look through pictures to try to identify a new bug before it is mom’s turn.

Ta-da! Observation Station ready to go! Time for a walk, no?!

*Marta works as a geologist in New Mexico as well as a homeschool mama, and she channels her passion of science and nature into high quality learning tools for children, including two sweet boys of her own.

If you choose not to make your own containers, they are available at places such as camping stores, amazon, as well as shops such as book stores and dollar stores during the summer.



A Must Have Bug Book *Freebie*

Bug Book

I must admit that I have been super excited to publish this post! It is not always easy to find a GREAT book with insects and bugs for preschoolers. Well now here is a fantastic bug book for you to add to your book collection, and it is completely free!

This wonderful resource is brought to you in part by Marta Wood, my very talented and knowledgeable cousin. She has a strong passion for all things nature and sharing this information with young children.

Here’s a little bit about Marta:

“I am the proud mother of 2 small-ish boys; one of which has been a bug-lover since the tender age of 3.  I work part-time as a geologist for a small environmental firm in New Mexico.  I am so blessed that I am able to do the majority of my work from a home office which has allowed me to stay home with my precious boys.

I would like to dedicate my portion of this bug book to all the amazing moms and teachers out there who dedicate their lives to the ittle-bittles and to my special son, Z-man, who can’t wait to share his knowledge of bugs with anyone who will listen! ”

We hope you enjoy this book, and I guarantee you will learn something new while reading through it! There is a blank page near the end of the book so that your child or class can add an extra bug of his or her choice.

*Unless otherwise noted, all photographs are copyrighted to Marta Wood.  They can be reproduced as part of this booklet for personal or single classroom use.

My Bug Book