If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, then spring is in the air! What better way to celebrate spring than searching for and enjoying critters emerging from their winter homes?
Today’s Adventure Box Theme is all about collecting and keeping insects and other small critters. Enjoy a look at the materials, books, and other resources dedicated to your children having an Adventure with small animals!
Materials to Have on Hand for Collecting Critters:
- Collecting Jars– for while you are in the field. Insect kits have a killing jar (filled with alcohol fumes) and some smaller critter vials for collecting.
- Insect Net
- Seining Net– for dredging in creeks if you choose. You can also use plain scooping tools, but you’ll bring a lot of dirt too.
- Dishpans– for collecting water critters along with their water
- Terrarium– or another larger container for the critter to go to once it’s it’s out of the jar. Lids are a good idea for insects!
- Insect Collecting Kit– this one is our favorite from Home Science Tools. It gives kids a chance to collect, identify, and pin with real materials. Love the quality!
Field Guides to Help with Your Collecting and Identifying:
- National Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects & Spiders– fabulous detail and pictures. This one is full of information so it might be frustrating for a beginner. My 7yo loves it though because he can research through many bugs and read a lot about them.
- Caterpillars, Bugs, and Butterflies– Take Along Guide (which also have activities in them as you explore)
- Frogs, Toads and Turtles- Take Along Guide
- Snakes, Salamanders and Lizards- Take Along Guide
- Reptiles and Amphibians (Golden Book)
- Audubon First Field Guide Amphibians
One of the fun things to do with critters is to find out what they are! You’ll want a good field guide. If your student’s interest is new, you’ll probably want something simpler, but if they know some basics already, then I suggest a guide the Audubon guides because they provide more detail and have more critters in them. It stinks when a guide is so small that you can’t really use it well because there aren’t enough critters in it.
Books on Keeping Small Critters:
- Pet Begs: A Kid’s Guide to Catching and Keeping Touchable Insects
- More Pet Bugs: A Kid’s Guide to Catching and Keeping Insects and Other Small Creatures
- Pets in a Jar: Collecting and Caring for Small Wild Animals
Collecting and caring for critters, requires some research on what your small animal eats and where it lives. Translation: critter collecting is a fun way to engage kids in researching and applying what they learn.
Safety Tip: Exploring in creeks and streams is a lot of fun! Make sure you have good shoes for the walk and avoid going barefooted. Make sure an adult is with the kids when exploring in water.
Did you know you can judge the quality of the water by what critters you can find there? I keep a laminated sheet of the sorts of things you can find in creeks and we use it when we take a look at what we’ve found.
If you catch critters, you can always place some in a petri dish and take a look under the microscope. We have a video scope that we can take off of its base and hold over the collecting container, but a dish on the stage works too.
Observing pond water under a microscope is pretty cool as well. With our Intel Qx3, we can take video of the action under the lens.
Remember that some critters are fun to keep for a while before returning to the wild. Make sure you return them to the same environment they came from. We kept this toad to observe for the day and the kids tried to make him comfortable in the meantime.
More Safety Tips:
As a biology teacher, I can’t blog on this topic without the note that amphibians and reptiles can carry salmonella. Make sure you practice good hand washing after handling the critters!
And while I’m at it, make sure your kids know the difference between safe insects and critters and the not so safe ones– biters, stingers, super disease carrying animals.
Project Books on Enjoying Critters:
- The Nature Connection– great activity book for enjoying nature with your kids
- One Small Square Backyard – fantastic drawings and cross sections on what could be found in a square foot area of the habitat.
- One Small Square Pond
- One Small Square Woods
- Keeping a Nature Journal– great for drawing and recording information on your critters
- Woods Walk- activities on enjoying a walk in the woods and what you can find there
It’s fun to watch kids get excited about making a home for nature friends. The possibilities are endless in how to enjoy this Adventure Box Theme.
Do you have a Nature Smart child who could spend all day outside? This might be the Adventure Box Theme for your house!
Spending time learning outside is one of my very favorite things to do as a homeschool mom. How about you? An Adventure with Insects and Critters might be just the thing for spring fever schooling too!
Be sure to check out the other bloggers who are sharing a series this week through iHN’s Spring 2013 Hopscotch.