Positive interactions with animals make important contributions to a child’s quality of life, yet many children today have only limited opportunities for deep engagement with animals. As Dr. Ruth Wilson explains in her book Naturally Inclusive: Engaging Children of All Abilities Outdoors, we as adults can help young children experience a life that is “really good” by strengthening their connections with animals and other living things. This bug box activity will not only foster a sense of wonder, but also encourage a sense of kinship with nature as children create a small habitat for the bugs that they find. Get the book, Naturally Inclusive, for more inspiring ways to nurture connections between children of varying abilities and animals, plants, and habitats.
- Clear plastic container
- Dish soap
- Small creatures*, such as snails, crickets, worms, ladybugs
- Leaves, twigs, other natural materials**
*Avoid animals that may bite or sting.
**Avoid plants that may cause skin irritation or allergic reactions.
What To Do
- Clean the container thoroughly with soap and water, making sure to remove any food, detergents, or other substances that may be harmful to a living creature. Let dry.
- Punch small holes in the top and/or sides of the container so that the animals can breathe.
- Collect one or several critters, such as snails, crickets, worms, or ladybugs.
- Add leaves, twigs, or other natural materials to provide an appropriate habitat for the animal.
- Invite the children to observe the animals. Be mindful that some children may be afraid of bugs or have an aversion to being close to bugs. Encourage close observation, but avoid pushing a child into uncomfortable situations.
- After observing the animals for a short period of time (no more than a few days), put them back where you found them.