“Please could you buy me a bug house mummy?”. This was Little R’s request for his 4th birthday. Even as a baby he was happiest outdoors exploring flowers and grass in the garden or being entirely amazed at the sight of bugs and insects. As soon as he learnt how to walk he would waddle across the length of our communal garden at the time and appear to be in a state of absolute bliss. So when he asked me for a bug house as a birthday present I wasn’t at all surprised.
Building on his love for nature, I naturally gravitated towards incorporating the outdoors into our day to day routine. I remember bundling him up in his buggy and going for long walks by the river. He immediately seemed to calm down on such walks as if the river was singing him a lullaby. Nowadays a walk in the woods is our most looked forward to the activity of the day. He loves looking out for woodland creatures and collects various objects like rocks, pine cones and so on. Every time he finds something of interest he squeals in delight. It’s interesting to note that he never rushes on these walks, he always stops by to smell the flowers (literally and figuratively!).
I have also managed to include this theme of nature in activities that I hope will contribute in some manner to his education. You may have come across these activities already so I will touch upon them very briefly.
Painting pinecones – As the name suggests, all you need is paint and some pinecones. Get as creative as possible with the colours. The end result is beautiful and they also make for decorative items on display or as Christmas tree baubles!
Painting rocks and pebbles – You can help your child transform the rocks into insects or bugs by painting them accordingly e.g. ladybirds, bees etc. These can be used as decorative items or serve a more practical purpose of paperweights.
Building a bug house and bird feeder – This is a great activity to be creative as well as to encourage conversations about shelter, food and the need to protect and conserve our natural environment. Ice cream sticks, glue and some stickers is mainly what you will need for this activity. You will be able to find instructions to build through various online sources.
Painting with leaves – Dipping leaves into paint and placing them on paper leads to beautiful results especially if seen through the eyes of a child. It’s also a very simple activity to put together.
Scavenger hunt – This makes woodland walks even more exciting. Provide your child with a list of objects to find and a small basket to place these into. Believe me when I say the process is more fulfilling than the final outcome.
Apart from these practical, hands on activities, a huge part of our day is taken over by books. Superworm, Bug School, The Gruffalo, Going On A Bear Hunt and Minibeasts are firm favourites. We also love colouring and sticker books based on the theme of bugs and insects in particular and nature in general. The RHS Garden Bugs sticker book is a winner here.
We recently received a Butterfly Garden as a gift and all of us were amazed to see the caterpillars transform into beautiful butterflies. Little R was almost glued to the butterfly habitat and would admonish his curious baby brother if he went too close to it. The day we released the butterflies was just amazing. Little R still remembers the whole process clearly and can’t wait to get more caterpillars!
I would like to conclude with a poem I wrote having been inspired by Little R’s love for bugs.
You were always fascinated by bugs
In all their creepy crawly glory
Your voice bubbling with excitement as soon as you spotted one
Look mummy look!
Ladybirds, spiders, ants and worms
No killing bugs you admonished your baby brother as he eagerly tried to grasp an ant
You welcomed all bugs with open arms
So one day we made a bug house
And I was overcome with so much love for you
You asked me if we can make beds, and skipped away looking for leaves
You also asked me about their food and where they’d brush their teeth
It’s then that I made a wish
For your love of wilderness to grow with you
And for your innocence to be preserved somewhere deep within the chambers of your precious heart