How to make a bug board to turn your kids into backyard scientists.
My kids are big fans of bugs. They definitely got that trait from me. I remember as a small child when people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and then they would be confused when I said I wanted to be an entomologist. I had no idea that they didn’t know what that meant!
I grew up being fascinated by how many different bugs there were. I enjoyed collecting them and studying them, and I never really outgrew my fascination with them– though I did give up the idea of pursuing a career in entomology.
When my kids were little, we would watch butterflies and bees fly about our flowerbeds, and let ladybugs crawl on our hands. Because of this, my kids are interested in insects.
Last year, we decided to start a “bug board” in order to study the insects we came across more easily. We’ve collected quite a few bugs, and the kids love trying to catch new ones that we haven’t found before.
We’ve been surprised by how many bugs we’ve been able to collect that we found dead. Just last week, I found a dead bee on one of our flowers, so we were able to add him to the bug board without having to kill one! We also pick butterflies and other insects out of the grill of our car, and find them all over the place.
So if the killing part isn’t for you, don’t worry– you can still make a pretty cool bug board. Some of your insects may be missing legs (most of our grasshoppers are missing at least one leg), but if you aren’t looking for perfection, you can make a board easily!
So here’s what you’ll need to start collecting your own bugs.
Piece of foam board
I got my foam board at our local Dollar Tree, but they carry it at most grocery stores as well, and it’s usually pretty cheap.
You can hang the foam board by itself from a piece of wire, or put it in a frame like I did. I happened to have a frame that I had broken the glass in while we were moving, so I cut the foam board to fit!
Mason jar with lid and ring
Any size of mason jar will do, but it doesn’t need to be large. It needs to have a tight fitting lid and ring in order to be air tight.
Tape, cotton ball or cotton pad, and rubbing alcohol
This is best set up when you’re getting ready to start collecting insects. Wet the cotton ball or pad with rubbing alcohol, and use tape to attach it to the inside of the lid.
Small container with pins and tweezers
This isn’t a requirement, but having all your supplies in one place makes it much easier. We use the tweezers to move legs or to hold certain bugs still in order to pin them. And obviously the pins are what holds the insects on the board.
We chose to try to arrange our insects by types. Our aren’t perfect, but we tried to put beetles in one row (and there are so, so many different beetles!), flying insects in another, and hopping insects in another, though some of them ended up in the wrong rows when I’ve let the 6 year old do it herself.
Having the insects on a bug board allows my kids to compare and contrast different insects, group them by similar features, and try to study more about the ones they find interest in.
How are you helping your little backyard scientists get more excited about learning?
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