Birds & Bugs

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Last week's Sunbeam lesson was, "I am thankful for Birds and Bugs."  There were too many ideas for my brain to even cope with!!  Bugs made of beads, bugs made of milk-bottle lids, feathers and all sorts of fun.  I had a list of crafts and games a couple of pages long - both internet inspired and self-inspired.  For the craft project, I settled finally on doing some sort of bird feeder, so that, hopefully, the kids would be able to see some real birds sometime in the week after learning about them.  Finding a birdfeeder craft idea for preschoolers though - one that didn't involve lots of drilling of holes and adult assembly so that there wasn't much for the kids to do themselves - proved challenging.

One idea was to smear peanut-butter on a pinecone and then roll it in birdseed.  My kids made these at one point, and the birds loved them.  But in my mind's eye all I could see was peanut-butter covered toddlers and angry parents!  The second idea was to string round cereal on a pipe-cleaner and hang it in the trees.  I liked the stringing concept, but wanted something a little more appealing than a straight line.  So I decided on a triangle shaped feeder - with a straw at the bottom as a perch - and cereal strung on either side all the way up.  I had to glue the straw in the middle to keep it from slipping around, but that turned out to be a fantastic move because it stopped the cereal at the bottom so there were no worries about it falling off.  The kids loved making them - eating more of the multi-grain Cheerios than they strung!  Of course, my own kids wanted to make some too, so the pics are of my kids and their cousins making their own birdfeeders.  The birds around our house are well taken care of :-)
Pin It For the bug section of the lesson, my class played a game with riddles about bugs and talked about helpful bugs and dangerous bugs.  I found a fantastic picture of a butterfly drinking from a flower with its long, straw-like mouth, and came up with the idea to have the kids drink like butterflies.  I printed off a simple flower pattern, cut it out, punched a small hole in the center, and stapled it to a capri-sun with the hole in the flower leaving the capri-sun straw hole exposed.  This worked great because I was able to leave the straws covered and attached to each drink, so it was all sanitary and self-contained.  I think that kids always enjoy a capri-sun, but this time, drinking like butterflies out of their flowers, they LOVED it!  I didn't anticipate just how much they would get a kick out of it - or how many giggles would result.

There was one crazy sideline from my lesson prep.  I discovered a new fascination.  I spent way too much time enthralled by pictures of Ambush Bugs.  While looking for great pictures of bugs and birds to show the kids (I've discovered the power of taking our laptop to show pictures, because then they aren't clipart versions, they are actual photos and the kids get really engaged), I was looking for pictures of stickbugs and katydids, and found these amazing Ambush Bugs.  I am so intrigued!!  One of these days that I have extra time on my hands (maybe when I'm 90) I have got to find out how these bugs end up looking the way they do.  Are specific ones always born on specific plants?  Or do they adapt as they grow to whatever flower they are living on?  Whatever happens, they are wicked cool, and further evidence of how teaching pre-schoolers can open our eyes to new things.   Can you find the bugs in the pictures?  Aren't they amazing?  I'm SO intrigued!!

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