Ants can be made out of cardboard egg cartons. You can teach your children about the different sections of the ants' bodies, the head, thorax and abdomen. Use three sections, one for each body part. Paint them and add pipe cleaners for legs and antennae. How many legs do they have? They have three. Paint or glue on eyes. Ant farms can be purchased inexpensively and are fun to watch. They are such busy creatures. You can find them in the wild, too. Just lift up a large rock, a board or a log and watch them scurry. If you collect your own ants for your farm, be sure to take them from the same colony or they will fight to the death.
You can see that I've barely scratched the surface. Worms are fun as well as beetles, lady bugs, and how about praying mantises? As always, use your imaginations, and also ask your children what they would like to learn about? They may surprise you. There are so many things to learn and places to visit with this topic. I love the Pine Bush Discovery Center with exhibits about Karner Blue Butterflies and more, the Emma Treadwell Thacher Nature Center at Thomsons Lake that houses a bee hive encased in glass where you can watch the bees doing their busy work, Five Rivers Environmental Education Center and on and on. This area is very rich in educational adventures. I encourage you to go out exploring but, speaking of bugs, be sure to protect yourselves against ticks! And remember that in the late summer and during the fall, yellow jackets and ground hornets are very active and just looking for something to sting. Common plantain, which grows everywhere, is wonderful for taking the venom out of bee stings. Chew a few leaves (they taste horrible, but the saliva activates the healing properties) and apply the paste. It's like magic! Also remember to teach your children that not all bugs are harmless. Some spiders and ants bite and can cause a harsh reaction.