Project Based Learning with Young Children: Bugs


When the decision had been made to home school using primarily project based learning, Gary and I had to decide whether we wanted to include the little two.  Could they join in, learning the same subject matter as the older children, or should we allow them to choose a project just for themselves?  I had a chat with both A5 and B3.  B3 didn’t have a clue what I was talking about but soon caught onto A5’s enthusiasm.  A5, however, understood immediately and knew exactly what she wanted to learn about.  Bugs.  She had a stack of ideas for resources as well.  I wasn’t sure if project based learning would work for the little ones, but just that short chat with my five-year old showed me she was more than old enough to cope with it.

The Bug Adventure Box

We have used adventure boxes for years now, even with my older three it is a very effective way of building excitement.  This time, though, the box could double up as a potential bug home, negating my need to buy a purpose-built one, which I did actually contemplate!

It took me a few weeks from the topic conception to creating enough ideas for 6 weeks worth of project work, but once done I was pleased I’d made the effort.  The look of excitement when I showed the little two their new ‘adventure’ box was priceless:

The Bug adventure box
The Bug adventure box

So what did I include?

Bug Dress Up

'nuff said!
’nuff said!

Non fiction Books

Bug books
Bug books
  • Age appropriate
  • Factual
  • Picture rich
  • Easy, understandable text

Bug Studying Equipment

Bug catching and studying bits and bobs
Bug catching and studying bits and bobs
  • The actual box all the project related stuff came in will be reused and turned into a bug home
  • They have a bug catching net and will also have lots of jam jars available to them for catching bugs, both flying and non flying
  • I bought them a bug specimen viewing jar each, which allows the children to see both the upper side and underneath side of the bugs magnified.

Fiction Books

A selection of the fiction books we chose
A selection of the fiction books we chose
  • Eric Carle has some insect related books which are perfect for both 3 and 5 year olds
  • I chose books we had around the house that I knew would keep their interest for the full six weeks.
  • I tried to choose books with lots of accurate pictures and which had a lot of factual content as well

FIAR Books

Trumanauntsfarm IMG_9802salamanderroom






  • As we had used BFIAR I knew I wanted to include some FIAR books in with whatever I did with the younger children
  • I chose Truman’s Aunt farm because first it is a play on the words ant farm and is all about Truman trying to meet the needs of the Aunts who kept arriving on his doorstep to be looked after.  In a similar vein, the little boy in Salamander Room tries to recreate the perfect environment for his pet Salamander.  Whilst we are doing bugs, not amphibians, I still felt his thought process of what his pet needed was just a perfect way to teach my girls to think about the needs of their ‘Bug pets’ and hopefully help them to create the perfect home from home for them inside their box.

Activity Books

Activity books
Activity books
  • Being a bibliophile through and through, it seemed natural to expand our collection of activity books
  • The 1001 bugs to spot was a huge, huge hit with A5.  Really, she could spend hours on each page looking for all the bugs and asking their names.  It is a really good book for doing alongside your child.
  • The sticker books were bought primarily with B3 in mind.  She loves to stick stickers and I hope she will learn lots just from me reading out about each bug she sticks.  I bought one each for the girls to stop arguing.
  • The book at the top contains 365 art lessons/things to draw and has many chapters on bug drawing, butterfly printing and so forth.  A great resource we just had lying around the house.
  • We also own a fun Eric Carle sticker and activity book which will be available on rainy days

Bug related activities

Catching the bug in the net magnetic puzzle
Catching the bug in the net magnetic puzzle
Other bug related activities
Other bug related activities
  • I chose to include a few indoor activities just in case the weather is wet and horrible which isn’t unheard of in the UK
  • Magnetic bug catching puzzle.  B3 loves this puzzle, which we had used frequently throughout our BFIAR studies.
  • Hungry Little Caterpillar Dominoes.  These are picture dominoes and both girls can play.
  • Eric Carle threading set to improve fine motor skills and as a pre-sewing activity for A5
  • Bug painting by numbers to help increase number recognition for B3
  • Finger printing bug kit – an inexpensive but perfect art kit for independent use

Fun DVDs

  • Age appropriate
  • Fun and loosely related to topic (!)
  • Use as a Friday reward for working hard at their project work

I will be interested to see how well project based learning will work for the younger two, in particular I am looking forward to finding out if studying one interest for 6 weeks will hold the attention of my very low attention spanned five-year old.

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