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.

TGIF Linky Party hosted by 123Homeschool4Me

Living In This Season


  1. Though I’m a bit older than your little ones, I would have so much fun learning about insects! 🙂 I guess I’ll need to get my hands on my young unsuspecting nephew do activities with him. At a couple of the garden centers around here, you can purchase live ladybugs (to release in garden) and praying mantis (to hatch, and then release), in case you find yourself in need of insects 🙂

    1. I am thinking about raising some insects but we have to send off for them here and they come in the post! It would be much easier to simply buy them from the garden centre.

  2. Such wonderful resources! No wonder the girls get excited upon seeing the box! I love their bug costumes!! So cute! Reading posts about the little ones always give me such nostalgia about Tiger’s preschool days. I can’t wait to read more about A5’s and B3’s project work!

    Funnily enough, I still use the adventure box system, but nowadays it’s more for me to organise theme-based materials. It works brilliantly to get *me* excited about learning! 🙂

    1. I do the same!! It’s always inspiring to me to watch all the wonderful resources grow over the months (I buy way in advance). Yes, I would have thoroughly enjoyed being schooled like this!

  3. wonderful ideas like always…could you give me the title of the 365 art lessons…
    Your little girls are just wonderful…thanks for sharing much love from switzerland;-)

    1. Of course – it’s called:
      365 Things to Draw and Paint – it’s an Usborne activities book
      ISBN 978-1-4095-0447-4
      Hope that helps!

  4. Those look like great insect boxes. Now I’m thinking how I can do an adventures box for my guys for science next year. I don’t want to try it for the rest of anatomy, but maybe……
    Or history, there’s this blogger I know who has some great stuff….

  5. Looks like they are going to have a lot of fun on this project, looking forward to reading more about it!

  6. I know your littles are having a grand time learning about bugs. I love the adventure boxes. Such a great idea. You are so good about finding such a variety of resources to go with one topic. Fantastic.

    One book I love is Jack’s Insects. It is for older children, but such an interesting living book.

    Hope you are having a lovely week! I think we have skipped spring and gone straight into summer – 98 degrees over the weekend. Too hot!

    1. I’ll have a look at Jack’s insects, thanks for the recommendation.
      I can’t believe you’re at 98!! Oh my goodness. We’re at 59 and I’m quite tempted to light our wood burner!

  7. Love the all these resources. My little one is petrified of bugs so we haven’t learned about them in any sort of way yet, but you have great ideas!

  8. Pingback: Summer Activity List | Living In This Season
  9. What question generated the project and how were you able to have them summarize their explorations? I’m a preschool teacher taking a Project Based Learning class and trying to get a better grasp of student-directed vs. student-centered.

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