Thursday, August 8, 2013

Nature Nuts: Water Bugs!

Elkhart County Parks had another Nature Nuts program for 3-5 year olds this week, centered on macroinvertebrates or water bugs, which is much easier for young children to say. I met my husband half way through to switch off kids, but heard there were a few books about dragonflies and other waterbugs, probably a discussion, and the children made their own nets to explore later.

I met up with the group just as they were getting close to the spillway at Ox Bow Park. My husband looked ready to be gone. Sounds like my son wasn't being very cooperative. He can be a bit shy when we go places and actually cried for a while when dad left. However, as soon as they had water to explore, he was totally engaged!

Krista had a few white dishpans for tubs, buckets for water, ice cube trays, spoons, plastic and styrofoam cups, etc. These are all basic supplies we all have that can be used for exploration. She did have one special bug viewer like this
3X Two Way 2-Way Bug Insect Viewer Magnifier Magnifying Eye Loupe Magnify Glass, but this is another good option Elenco Two Way Bug Viewer, 4x, 6x.

Krista had a big, sturdy net, so she went to the water and brought back several scoops for the children to explore.

The children used the spoons and their handmade scoops to put the macroinvertebrates into the ice cubes and varying cups. This way they could look at them up close. 

Krista was there to talk to the kids about all the things the children found. She is always a good guide on the side! ADULTS--macroinvertebrates aren't just for kids! Hoosier Riverwatch is a great FREE training to help adults be citizen scientists. Read about my experience with the training here. We've also seen macroinvertebrates a few other places, such as in Indiana Master Naturalist training (a new class is starting soon), at the H2O Festival at Woodlawn Nature Center, and I've heard they will be at the upcoming Riverfest. Check them out! 

This Nature Nuts time dedicated just for preschoolers is a great opportunity to meet the needs of young children exploring nature. My son has gone to Nature Nuts almost monthly over the last year and then also attended Nurturing Acorns at Woodlawn Nature Center this last year. He makes great observations and connections about nature. Spending a little time and effort in nurturing a child's curiosity pays off well! While all my children spend time in nature, he has a special affinity to nature that the older boys (that were not as exposed as he is) do not. 

Even the baby got into the sensory experience--he liked this bush!

Several of the children liked collecting the snails they found! No more tears and he was totally engaged as he explored and learned about water bugs. 


After we let all the macroinvertebrates go, we walked back to Oxbow Haus. Of course a little bit of balance play was needed. :-) After washing hands, they made dragonflies out of carrots and pretzels. Yum!