Project Based Learning – Making a Bug Observatory


You remember the Bug Adventure box I made up for the little ones to help with their chosen bug project?  There was a reason I put everything in a large plastic box, rather than the customary wooden box I had used for the past few years.  I had plans to turn it into a bug observatory extraordinaire!  Here it was filled with all their bug goodies:

The Bug adventure boxIt doesn’t look too promising as an extra special bug home, but that was before my five and three-year old got their hands on it.

We had read the Salamander Room, and Trueman’s Aunt farm and talked about the needs of their soon to be pet bugs.  These are fantastic books for introducing to young children the needs of the animals or bugs in their care:








A5 really got into this and easily listed their main requirements.  As this was essentially their project, I was to be at their beck and call but was not to be the mastermind of it all.  That job was firmly placed on A5’s shoulders.  B3 is still a little too young to fully understand what was going on, although as the observatory took shape she began to have some very sensible and completely independent thoughts on her and A5’s bug home.  It was wonderful to watch my two youngest work together as a team, and then as they became deeply immersed in the whole idea, asking their sisters to come help them source some frogs.  They worked at it for easily an hour, which is incredible for A5 who has the concentration span of approximately 1 minute and thirty seconds!

First things first, A5 decided mud was the order of the day and quickly got to work digging up T12’s vegetable patch (it was one he hadn’t dug over yet from last year and so was happy for A5 to dig away):

A5 digging with B3 biting at the bit!
A5 digging with B3 biting at the bit!
And more digging...
And more digging…
At last B3 had her turn
At last B3 had her turn
Whilst B3 dug, A5 'unclumped the clumps'
Whilst B3 dug, A5 ‘unclumped the clumps’

Next they decided to find a log for the critters to hide under:


Then it started to come together very quickly as they sourced some rain water in an old large dog’s bowl (which by the way had many hundreds of tiny forms of life already in it), and placed that in the corner, adding leaves and plants as a form of food.  They found a place in the shade which was protected by a large bush, after which they went bug hunting:

Hunting for bugs under some slabs
Hunting for bugs under some slabs

Many, many worms were found, and to be honest not much else:

My gal and one of her many worms
My gal and one of her many worms, and a very dirty face!

However, once they got their very willing sister involved it was a different story!

It's always much more fun when C11 is around!
It’s always much more fun when your older siblings are around!

C11 is an absolute gem when it comes to the little ones, and spent much time helping them find frogs, snails and centipedes:

The bug observatory is beginning to look grand
The bug observatory is beginning to look grand

And a froggy close up:


And this to me is where it became interesting, as B3, who bless her heart always joins in with anything and everything but doesn’t always understand what she is doing and why, suddenly said to me that the earth needed to be watered for the bugs to live.  So off she trotted to the kitchen, climbed up on the cabinets to fetch a cup, took it into the bathroom to use the only taps she is able to reach and proceeded to water her earth:

Such a ball of cuteness.
Such a ball of cuteness.

Now we had so many bugs (and frogs) A5 suggested more coverage so I cut down a small branch off our plum-tree and placed that inside for the frogs to hide under.  And here is our finished for now bug observatory:

I think it looks quite inviting!
I think it looks quite inviting!

Whilst I was showing the two little ones pictures of insect homes on the computer, there were many ‘Insect hotel’ pictures.  A5 has asked if we could make one of these to encourage more insects to live.  I’ve got a few ideas and think we have a lot of what we need for the project, so we’ll be doing that next week.

    TGIF Linky Party hosted by 123Homeschool4Me


  1. This is priceless! Love it! 🙂 An idea: you can make a ‘bug hote’ by hollowing out cut-up, equal-lengthed pieces of bamboo canes and tying them together in a bundle. They’re great for ladybirds and other bugs.

    1. Thanks Hwee. We are going to do something a bit like that with canes and also other twigs and bits and pieces the children are going to collect. I’ve spotted some quite grand hotels on pinterest!

  2. Absolutely so sweet! The girls are adorable – love that independent spirit! Great bug observatory, and hats off to C for snagging a frog. Every summer I think of making a bug hotel with girls, and never get around to it – can’t wait to see yours!

  3. Totally wonderful as always. Your kids are just adorable and I know C11 is such a big help!! Fun stuff Claire.

  4. Looks like such a great activity for the little…and big kiddos. Love the project learning! We enjoy it as well!

    1. LOL! Messy faces feature highly in all my children’s days. I do wonder where I went wrong, until I look in the mirror and see the same mess on my own face…!

  5. Oh, bugs. This is such a neat post. Love the enthusiasm from the littles. How is the bug observatory?

    One time we brought in this cool-looking nest that we found hanging on a plant. We put it in a clear box with plastic over the lid to watch it. We woke one morning and found a gazillion little bee looking creatures flying in it. It was so scared I took it outside and took the plastic off and ran back into the house. I forgot to look at them long enough to figure out what they were. I was afraid they were going to be loose in the house. Some great teacher of nature I turned out to be!

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