Little "June" Bugs...
June brings the beautiful summer flowers, and with them... the BUGS! The children and I learned about several different types of common bugs this month through a variety of sources including books, matching games, pretend play, and real-life interactions with bugs.
Searching for bugs around the yard was a favorite activity in the beginning of the month. The children and I brainstormed areas we should look for the bugs. Through our search, we learned that many bugs live on the ground and some bugs live on plants. Naturally, this led to a discussion about what bugs eat, and we learned that some bugs eat plants and other bugs eat animals.
There was plenty of time during these outdoor forays to interact with small, harmless bugs. Once the children learned that pillbugs (we call them "roly-polies") like to hide under rocks, every time we went outside, we turned over all the rocks looking for them. When we found them, some of the children delighted in letting the tiny creatures march over their hands, while others were content to look on from a safe distance.
The children found ladybug larvae, ants, centipedes, and butterflies. We learned that insects lay eggs as we read a collection of non-fiction books, and often searched the milkweed plants near our yard for signs of Monarch butterfly eggs. Despite a few sightings of Monarch butterflies, it was to no avail; this month we did not find any.
We're going to keep looking and in the meantime, the children and I enjoyed a homemade matching "Memory" style game with grasshoppers, ladybugs, ants, fireflies, dragonflies, and bees. Our search for butterfly eggs sometimes turned into a chance to pick wildflowers. We only picked a few and left the rest for the bugs.
Sometimes, we kept the more active bugs in a clear container for closer inspection. At one point, we caught a worm and a "Daddy Longlegs" spider and put them together in the same container. It turns out that Daddy Longlegs like to eat worms, a discovery that surprised me just as much as the children!
We kept a healthy distance from bees. They really command our respect even though one of our fingerplays emphasizes how nice they are.
The busy bees have been visiting all the little flowers in our garden, and we've been tending it well. The cucumbers and tomatoes have changed from seedlings to big, spreading plants!
Engaging in lots of water play has given the children many opportunities to water the garden. Carrying many loads of water helps the children develop balance and care in their movements as they prevent spills. It's not much fun to water the plants if you have no water when you get to the garden!
Our water play has been boisterous- lots of splashing, chasing, dumping, and giggles have filled our mornings. As mentioned in the blog post about sunscreen, I try to bring the children out early before the sun's rays are at their strongest.
The children loved having a variety of containers to experiment with. There were short, tall, wide, and small containers, funnels, and even sponges to accommodate lots of adventures and to appeal to the wide age group of children at Blue Sky Daycare now.
Second to only water play, nature walks were the children's favorite activity this month. It was a treat to listen to the birds singing and to make new discoveries each time we ventured forth.
Among our bug discoveries in "the woods" were tiny blue butterflies, medium-sized white butterflies, dragonflies, and craneflies.
Bugs weren't the only interesting things we found on our walks- we also found black raspberries ripening on their thorny briars, white egrets at the pond, and several different kinds of wildflowers peeking out from between green leaves.
To celebrate midsummer, we made some beautiful sun-shaped bread made from wheat that grows and ripens in the bright sunshine. It was fun to combine the ingredients, knead, and roll, but even more fun to eat! Unfortunately, I accidentally deleted the pictures of our beautiful bread! Trust me- it was stunning! We also enjoyed some peaches and strawberries with our bread- so yummy!
We finished the month with a week devoted to learning about fireflies. We had the chance to look at a firefly or two during our back yard bug explorations, so they were familiar to us, but it was even more interesting to learn about the anatomy and habits of fireflies through books.
We read two non-fiction books and a range of fiction books that focused on fireflies including a classic- The Lonely Firefly by Eric Carle. Our favorite was simply titled Fireflies! by author and illustrator Julie Brinckole. This story helped open up some interesting discussions about caring for living creatures. Sometimes, as was the case in this story, caring for a creature means setting it free.
We also had fun using flashlights to pretend that we were fireflies blinking in the night. The children had to be as quiet as they could while hiding, then find each other by flashing their flashlights! While it's not quite as much fun as a nighttime firefly adventure, it's still a great way to learn about fireflies!
I'm eager to explore beaches and sea creatures with the children next month. Don't you wonder what we'll do?