Bugs and Hairspray

Bugs! Bugs! Bugs! They have been everywhere this summer. I know, they are around every summer, even all year. This summer, however, we seemed to have been particularly plagued with an abundance of bugs of every imaginable kind.

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Sweetness, Bookworm Beauty & The Boy showing off our amazing bugs!

After swatting and batting needlessly (because it never really helps anyway), I began to see them for what they really are… amazing creatures created by God and meant to be studied by little homeschooled minds!

Thus, our collection began.

Don’t think for a second that this is for the younger kids only, I assure you that even Angel, my 21 year old, is in awe of the delicate intricacies of each bug to be inspected. She has reminisced about the days that we had a bug board for her, Princess and Sunshine years ago.

All you need to start a bug board is:

  • Bugs!
  • Containers
  • Corkboard
  • Stick pins
  • Hairspray (or clear coat spray paint)
  • Paper
  • Magnifying glass
  • Intrigued kids

As you begin to collect bugs, be prepared for the unexpected delight and fascination of them still alive! We often catch a really cool bug and put it into a makeshift terrarium prior to its fateful demise. We enjoyed Katy our katydid for months last year. She stayed in the terrarium in our classroom, allowing us hours of enjoyment! We ended up doing a complete unit study on her and watched in amazement as late one evening she began to lay eggs!

This year, our favorite terrarium resident was a praying mantis. Although we never did give him a name, we enjoyed observing him nonetheless.

As you capture your bugs, decide how you are going to put them to rest. The easiest, quickest and most painless method (at least for us) is to put them into a container and straight into the freezer. In a few short hours it will be ready to prepare for your board. Although this may seem to be the most humane method, we have found that freezing tends to discolor the insect. You might avoid discoloration by removing it from the freezer before it completely freezes, I just never seem to remember that there is an insect in the freezer until I open the door for something else and am greeted with the little fella.

Once we had gathered enough bugs to feel it was worth the effort of putting the bug board together, we grabbed our supplies and got started. First, we decorated the corkboard. We then carefully pinned each insect with a stick pin and gave them a good spray with extra super hold hairspray… I’m envisioning a need to pick up a good ol’ silver and pink can of Aquanet – the 80’s hair withstood everything back in the day! The hairspray simply helps – a bit – to keep the bug intact, giving them a tiny bit of protective coating.

After they have been pinned to the board, the kids made name placards with the common insect name as well as the scientific name. Researching the scientific names has allowed us to begin identifying different insect classifications by finding commonalities in the names. Oooooh, I feel further studies coming along and a great segway into a full-fledged insect study!

The magnifying glass is a definite essential to this project as it allows you to get really up close and personal with the bugs. I am always fascinated with the delicate web-like structure of wings, especially the dragonflies.

I’m still trying to figure out if this project was for the kids or more for me!

What cool bugs are in your neck of the woods?