The traveling Spark Station:Kids learning about insects and bugs

by Mary Ann on May 3, 2011

girl with fly puppet picture

Maggie and her “fly” puppet

On Friday I got up at 7:20am. I had to be somewhere by 8:10. It takes me ten minutes to drive to where I had to be so I had 40 minutes to dress, fix my hair, eat and leave.

None of this timing would have been a problem except that I take my Spark Station traveling on Friday and I had not taken the time during the week to plan anything! I need to be at my daughters by 10:00am so I was going to have to leave my first appointment and rush right over there.

boy with cat puppet picture

Jack and the “cat” puppet made by his mom. It is an angry cat!

I am confessing this lack of weekly planning and the fix I was in because it gives me a perfect opportunity to show you how thinking is your greatest tool in keeping your Spark Station an inspiring place for children. I want you to see, in fact, that inspiration is everywhere, all the time and that children are easy to please.

old lady swallowed a fly picture

She swallowed a fly. Oh my!!

As I threw on my clothing I began to rattle around in my brain to come up with a plan for my Spark Station for grandma school. A book came to mind that I had just seen a few days earlier in my library, There Was an Old Lady

I wondered, since the old woman ate a fly, if I had any other books about insects. On the bottom shelves of the library I found The Spider Makes a Web

Good, now I was on a roll. As I put an apple in my pocket for breakfast I thought that it would be fun to make puppets to go with the

bug tea party picture

The “very fancy” bug tea party : )

song and then have a play as we sang. I grabbed some crayons and colored pencils and a few old files to draw the puppets on. I couldn’t recall where the tag board was but the files would work. I found some Popsicle sticks, scissors, glue and tape in the cupboard and added them to my bag.


As I put some nuts and raisins in a zip lock  to round out my breakfast I thought that it would be fun to have a little tea party after our play. So I got another bag of nuts and raisins and the children’s tea set. I added a package of graham crackers for good measure.

wooden frog picture

Frogs catch flies with sticky tongues

On my way out the door I spotted a small wooden frog from So. America on a shelf. It has ridges on its back. When you stoke the ridges with a stick the frog croaks. That’s cool and frogs eat insects. I threw it in the bag as I headed out the door.

As I drove to work I began thinking about the tea party and the nuts and raisins. WOW.

cooked insects picture

Looks tasty, right?

People in other parts of the world eat insects! I could tell them that some people eat grubs and larvae (they would see what a larvae is in the book “A Bee Is Born”). Some people eat ants, crickets and grasshoppers. In fact, right here in America some people raise red worms, dry them and make a flour from them. I know about this because when I was a girl my father made a red worm farm in our back yard so we could sell them. True!

chocolate ant picture

A chocolate ice cream ant – Yummmmm

We would end our day with a bug tea party. We would talk about who eats bugs and where they live. We would drink bug juice just like a spider, only out of cups. (Water) We would eat grubs and larvae (Brazil nuts), brown beetles (almonds) and squashed flies (raisins). We would have crackers made from ground up red worms. (Grahams)

As you can surmise grandma school was a hit. The puppets were terrific. The song was fun.( The old lady swallowed a fly song with puppets) Our play turned out great. We talked all about bugs, some insect facts for kids, which bugs eat other bugs, and how frogs eat their food. Most of all we loved pretending that we were having bugs for lunch.

stuffed bugs picture

Darling little bugs

P.S. I know some of you are thinking, well that is great for little kids like you are working with but could you pull it off if I added an 8, 10 and 12 year old. I answer, absolutely. I would have the older children make some of the puppets and help the younger ones with theirs. I would ask the 10 year old to direct and manage the play. I would have the 12 year old make a video of the play. We would go to the computer and look at  food made from real bugs. Finally we would have gone out to the yard and logged or drawn all the insects that we could find.

After I got home I spent 5 minutes and found a darling craft and more pretend

insects to eat. A little planning can go along way!


Chocolate ants

Egg cup insects

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