Best. Day. Ever.
I was invited by Zehra to bring in some "bug stuff" today for James' class. Elizabeth brought her group, too, which meant about 20 preschoolers. We had SUCH a good time.
They literally oooh'ed and aaah'ed when I took out my collecting gear: pins, nets, envelopes, etc. And that was just the tacklebox.
Izzy found a tortoise beetle yesterday so I had one live insect to show them, which they loved.
I also brought a nice collection of about 70 insects arranged by family, and several guide books. They were ecstatic.
The kicker was the framed insects we got in belgium, a huge beetle (goliathus cacicus) and buttterfly (papilio blumei). See more on goliath beetles here, and the peacock swallowtail here.
By this time we'd spent about 30 minutes (all of circle time), and I heard that they had a storyteller coming in next. The kids were really excited and thankful, but I am certain I enjoyed it as much as they did. As I was packing up I heard that the storyteller was running late, and so I offered to do some collecting outside with the kids. Screaming ensues.
So, we head out-- of course Willy is also on the playground so I have to check in with him. What is mom doing at school after drop off?! The order of the universe is disturbed!
I duct-taped my sweep net on because the metal band that's supposed to hold the net on is broken. I chose the sweep net because the playground does not have a lot of plant life. It's full of equipment and woodchips-- not exactly a diverse ecosystem. I saw some tall grass and plants along the road and thought I'd head there (sans children) to do a few passes with the sweepnet. The children lined up shoulder to shoulder along the back fence-- watching me work. I worked for a while with with the sweep net and peeked in to see it teeming with life.
I marched back to the playground and asked the kids to circle me. (I also asked the teachers if there were any bee allergies in the group. I didn't think I had any bees, but I wasn't taking chances. They said no, but also that they don't always know before someone is stung. Ummm. Let's not have a lawsuit brought down on the group, okay?) I sat next to the fence and then opened the net. Bugs just started streaming out of it.
Several kinds of beetles, a few ants, many many hoppers, crickets, aphids, leaf bugs, and a whole medley of spiders. I'd given the children envelopes, which are usually just for collecting dragonflies and damselflies, but they all tried to urge the critters into their little envelopes anyway. It kind of worked. I saw a few of the cellophane envelopes with what looked like a squashed bug inside. Most importantly, the kids loved it, and nobody was injured/freaked out/stung.
I offered to run another pass, and dump all the insects into a spare yogurt container I brought. I told the teachers to stick them in the freezer, and that I would help the kids pin them next week.
So. Much. Fun.