Children learn from examples. So all this talk about how math is confusing, hard, and capable of inspiring more dread than being trapped in a room full of spiders NEEDS TO STOP! Everything we learn requires practice, and math is no different. With a positive mindset toward math (plus some fun bug math activities), math can be awesome. But it all starts with your example, so let’s have fun with math!
Insect Lesson Plans
Catching & Counting Bugs
Counting & Sorting Activity
There are two types of people – those who carefully relocate bugs outside to their natural habitat and those who fearfully (and aggressively) step on them at first sight.
I am firmly in the bug-stomping camp.
No shame in my game. However, in this next hands-on math activity, I advocate for catching bugs and placing them in jars. It’s for the sake of learning, people!
With bug counters and printable bug cards, your preschoolers will know just how many bugs go into each jar.
They will take pride in counting and placing the correct amount in each jar. As an extension, the activity also includes a color sorting mat and numbers to find the total!
Bug Math Activities
I think it’s unfair that the intricate, beautiful butterflies are lumped into the “bug” category.
But alas, they are. I guess we can chalk it up to their ability to add beauty to the category of crawly, often unwanted insects.
Butterfly addition clip cards are bright, colorful, and definitely wanted in your math centers!
Your little mathematicians will count the chips on each wing and then find the total. Clip the correct sum with a clothespin, providing practice for fine motor skills.
Add engagement by using magnetic counters that they can swipe away when done counting. Or fly this butterfly center over to the light table to add even more brightness to your bug math activities!
Let me tell you something: watching real-life caterpillars spin chrysalises and emerge as butterflies is a transformative experience, not just for the caterpillars!
If possible, I highly recommend ordering one of those caterpillar kits and letting your students witness this miracle for themselves.
And if you want to add some of that excitement to your insect math centers, measure leaves with pompom caterpillar rulers.
They’re tactile, fuzzy, and almost as cute as real caterpillars, which is the perfect way to transform your math centers into a fun learning station!
Use the individual leaves or the print-and-go option to set up this insect measurement activity!
Bug Math Activities for Preschoolers
Have you ever heard of zombie flies? Probably not – I made it up.
We moved about 15 minutes away from our old house, still nestled in the Rocky Mountain foothills, and there’s a different breed of fly swarming our house this summer.
They don’t move fast. In fact, they sit all day long and leave little poop droppings on the trim below. They’re so slow you can hit them with a flyswatter while watching 1883 and sipping a Spindrift. Like I said, they’re zombie flies.
And just like those zombie flies aren’t moving very fast, neither are these Subitize Flies with this next insect math activity – perfect for your little ones to swat (even while distracted).
Set out these flies with colored dots all over their body. Give your preschoolers some flyswatters (maybe set some ground rules first), and then call out a number for them to swat.
The goal: subitize (or identify without counting) the number on their belly or wings, and then count on quickly to be the first to swat the fly!
Flip these flies over to check the answer and then call out another number.
Save the bugs
Cooperative Math Game
While I am all about a little healthy competition, I also thoroughly enjoy watching toddlers work together to achieve a common goal or win a game.
This Save the Bugs is a cooperative game that does just that!
Your toddlers will take turns drawing colorful number cards with numerals, counting fingers, ten frames, or dots.
They will name the number and move any bug (we used wooden ladybugs from Dollar Tree) to the next available color – the same as on the card.
They better watch out, though! The bug catchers are out to get them. Will they make it to the finish line before being caught!?
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MORE Insect Activities for Preschoolers
Practice math alongside the insects, and you may even begin to appreciate their presence in your classroom! All jokes aside, your toddlers will absolutely enjoy having your permission to pick up, touch, and work with the bugs in each of these hands-on bug math activities. What are you waiting for? Put the bug spray away and jump right in!