In 2008 my Bug Club was the recipient of Excellence in Programming award in the area of educational or interpretive programming at the New Jersey Recreation & Parks Association Conference. This and success with a Bugfest event and Butterfly tent safari operation led me to publish Buzz Into Action, The Insect Curriculum for Grades K-4.
The Bug Club invites five to ten year olds to learn about insects through a variety of seasonally appropriate programs that explore the fields, forests, and streams in a fun and educational way. Children can sign up for one class or for the entire year to observe the phenological changes that occur through the seasons.
Because of the inborn sense of wonder that children have surrounding insects and their accessibility within a forest habitat, the decision was made to create a series of classes that looked at observing insects throughout the year. The program includes visits to see the Center’s beehives and beekeeper and to the gardens and greenhouses to learn with the Master Gardeners about beneficial bugs. Children also have opportunities for open exploration outside with magnifying glasses and nets that provides frequent informal learning thus providing them with a unique and individual experience as they make their own discoveries and develop exciting stories to share.
The programs main goal is to get children outside and into the parks having fun while learning something about science and nature. The entomologist, Robert Michael Pyle has argued that the butterfly net is perhaps “the cheapest, simplest, and most effective environmental education tool ever invented” and I completely agree. The mix of recreation and education with a sprinkling of conservation themes mixed in helps children learn at a young age about the importance of our natural world and instills a sense of ownership and stewardship for their environment.
I’m still educating children about insects regularly in field trips, camps, clubs and special events but have recently changed up club themes to Frog Pond Science and Forest Friends Club to bring in more varied interests and encourage participation for full registration.
David Alexander is author of the Buzz Into Action & Hop Into Action Science Curricula. He specializes in making nature accessible to people and wildlife. You can follow him at www.natureintoaction.com