Child's hands hold a ladybug

Better Know Your Bugs with These Fun Family Activities

Two young children look at ladybugs

Kids love bugs! Whether creeping, crawling, fluttering or flying, insects are fascinating—and they’re a great opportunity to learn about the natural world as a family.

With Butterflies in the Garden on-going and David Rogers’ Big Bugs opening this month, now is a great time to interest your family in insects with some great books and easy home activities.

It’s fun to teach science and math fundamentals while learning all about bugs. For example, this website has instructions for building a caterpillar out of a piece of rope and a cut-up pool noodle. The activity is great for preschoolers and helps with counting and fine-motor skills. Plus you end up with a fun caterpillar toy.

Another idea is to build an insect sensory bin with cheap and widely available products. As well as exploring shapes, sizes and textures, you can use a book about insects or pictures printed from online to play a matching game.

For elementary age children, go on a Mini Nature Exploration. Mark out a one-foot square plot in your backyard or in a park. Get down on the ground and really study that patch of land. What do you see? How many types of insects can you find? Ask questions to your child about the shapes, colors and textures of what you see. Would you find more bugs or different bugs if you moved to a different location? This miniature nature hunt is a great contrast with Big Bugs and an opportunity to talk about scale and size.

Dozens of other art activities involving insects are available online. This site has several to choose from, including paper plate ladybugs, tissue paper bees and cupcake-liner lightening bugs.

A child smiles at a praying mantis on their arm

The sculptures in Big Bugs are made out of natural materials including trees, branches and other forest materials. You and your family can make your own bugs, maybe not quite so big, out of natural materials in your own backyard. Can you find twigs for legs or leaves for wings? What ordinary materials could become the squishy bodies of caterpillars or the hard shells of beetles? With some glue, you could create your own gallery of Medium-Sized Bugs!

While you’re learning all about bugs, don’t forget to look for all of the great insect-related books available. This site has a long list ranging from picture books to chapter books all about bugs.

Your household will be full of aspiring entomologists before you know it!

Related Articles


Build Your Own (Not So Big) Bugs at Upcoming Family Workshop

The clock is counting down the days that we get to enjoy David Roger’s Big Bugs exhibition at the Garden. The Bugs will fly, scuttle and hop away. on June 12. One way to enjoy the Bugs before they depart, plus create a keepsake of the exhibition, is to join our family workshop, Big Bug Builders.

Read More »
Garden sign that reads "As I work on the garden, the garden works on me"

Get Your Hands Dirty in a Garden to Boost Your Mental Health

One of the best things about working outside in a garden is the visibility of the results. You can see your hard work pay off as flowers bloom. But there’s another benefit, one that is just as real but less obvious to the eye: Gardening supports your mental health. Experts from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will teach a workshop on wellness in the garden this month that will share tips on reducing stress and anxiety through gardening.

Read More »
Blue plumbago - pale blue flowers against a dark green background of leaves

Plants that Take the Heat and Fill Your Summer Garden with Color

One of the major goals of gardening in Texas is finding colorful, high-performing plants that add drama to our summer landscapes and hold up to Texas heat. “Fortunately, there are many to choose from, including both perennials and annuals and both native and adapted plants,” says Sr. Horticulturist Steve Huddleston. “In fact, you might find you have more options that you realized.”

Read More »
Floral illustration from 1829 of stemless evening primrose

What Is This Thing? Discovering Stemless Evening Primrose.

It’s one thing to identify a flower when it’s in bloom. Petals, stamens and other features provide all sorts of information to botanists to narrow down the plant’s name and history. Starting with a seed pod is a different matter – especially when the pod is hard, dried, and an indistinct brown. When friends Carol and Cynthia both found particularly tough, dried pods that superficially resemble pine cones, they were baffled. But it takes more than a dried-up pod to baffle the botanists at the BRIT Herbarium. They were able to let Cynthia and Carol know that they had found the dried fruits of Oenothera triloba, or stemless evening primrose.

Read More »
Family enjoying picnic near Big Bugs ant

This Time, the Ants Invite You to the Picnic

Usually, ants at a picnic are unwelcome, but what if they’re the main attraction? The Botanic Garden is at the height of its early summer beauty, and we invite you to celebrate on the grounds with a picnic – perhaps near the giant, whimsical ants that are part of the David Rogers’ Big Bugs exhibition. “Now is a great time to dine al fresco at the Garden,” says CEO and President Patrick Newman. “Explore our landscape as late spring and summer blooms reach their peak, and visit sculptor David Rogers’ giant insects before the exhibition closes in June.”

Read More »
A hand pours tea from a Japanese teapot into small bowls

Restored Tea House Welcomes Guests to Experience the Way of Tea

Guests to the Spring Japanese Festival will have an opportunity to view the Japanese Garden’s Tea House, now open after a comprehensive restoration. Japanese garden expert John Powell drew on the Urasenke tradition, a centuries-old school of tea that emphasizes harmony, respect, purity and tranquility, to guide the restoration. “The Way of Tea is much more than a traditional way of serving guests a drink,” says Powell. “It is a rich tradition of hospitality that invites hosts and guests to respect one another and the world around them.”

Read More »