Deborah Proctor, Wisconsin Master Naturalist, shares tips and ideas on how to unplug your children and grandchildren and get them into the great outdoors where they can learn naturally.
Bugs, Bugs, Bugs
Did you know that there are more bugs (insects) on Planet Earth than any other type of creature? Experts estimate that there are between 6 and 10 million species of insects worldwide, and, that does not count each individual insect (estimated at 50 trillion per species). That’s a lot of bugs -- potentially over 90% of all animal life forms on earth!
Insects include everything from tiny ants to monster beetles, annoying gnats to grasshoppers and fascinating dragonflies and butterflies. Many people include spiders in this category though actually they are arachnids. Though both are arthropods along with other creatures such as scorpions, shrimp, and lobsters. (Think about it: Doesn’t a shrimp or lobster look a lot like a big bug?)
You can identify an insect by the following characteristics, though they are very diverse.
They have 6 jointed legs, 3 on each side of their body. (Spiders have 8 legs.)
Their body is segmented into three parts (the head, thorax, and abdomen), clearly seen by examining an ant or wasp.
They have an exo (or external) skeleton made of chitin that is tough, protective and semi-transluscent. It is this chitin that butterflies use to form their chrysalis.
Most have 2 antennae, 2 compound eyes, and fly, and nearly all hatch from eggs.
Did you know that even though there might still be snow outside in some places, you can still see insects (other than the spiders in your basement, that is)? Next time you are out on a warm wintry day, look at the snow around the base of a tree or depressions in the snow or ice where water has collected. See those tiny dark specks? Look closer, are they moving? Commonly called snow fleas because of their jumpy flealike movements, these springtails are busy eating bits of tree sap or decaying plant matter.
Getting back to those spiders in the basement, here’s a fun activity. Observe how the spider constructed its web. Then take a few small twigs or sticks and a ball of string and try to construct your own spider web. It’s not as easy as it sounds.
Books on this topic:
Everything Insectsby Carrie Gleason; Dino J. Martins (National Geographic)
Wild Insects and Spiders by Martin and Chris Kratt (The Wild Kratts)
Disguises, Explosions, and Boiling Farts: bizarre insect defenses by Ruth Owen
Hey There, Stink Bug! by Leslie Bulion; Leslie Evans
1000 Books Before Kindergarten is a reading program which encourages parents and caregivers to provide positive, nurturing early experiences by daily reading aloud to their children ages birth to five.
The AWE Early Literacy Station is a dynamic computer for children ages 2-8; programs can be played in Spanish & English.
READ WITH ME: Reading with a Dog
The program improves children’s reading and communication skills by employing a powerful method: reading to a therapy animal. But not just any animal.Dogs on Call teams are Pet Partnersregistered therapy animals as well as Read With Me teams that volunteer with their handler going to schools, libraries, and many other settings as reading companions for children.Learning to read is often less about intellectual limitation than about overcoming fears. Animals are ideal reading companions because they:
Help increase relaxation and lower blood pressure.
Do not laugh, judge, or criticize.
Allow children to proceed at their own pace.
Are less intimidating than peers.
Learn more here.
"Therapy animals are scrupulously clean and well-groomed before each session, which helps. Many therapy dogs are treated with a dander remover product and body deodorizer before they volunteer. If a child suffers from severe allergies or asthma, reading with a dog might not be appropriate or enjoyable."
Reading is Important
This video is a celebration of reading, and emphasizes the importance of helping children develop early literacy skills.