As the warmer weather arrives, it's the perfect time for kids to go outside to explore insects. Whether you are doing an insect study unit or simply looking for fun activities for your bug enthusiast, these free printables are fun for kids of all ages.
Insects are truly fascinating, ranging from large to tiny creatures. Look closely and you might be surprised how many different kids of little creatures can be found even in a small outdoor space.
Why Learn about Insects?
Insects represent about 90 percent of all life forms on earth. More than one million insect species have been identified throughout the world, and some entomologists (scientists that study insects) estimate there may be as many as 10 million species.National Park Service, US Dept of Interior
These free resources are great way to get kids learning about insects in an interactive way. Free downloadable PDF printables are available at the bottom of this post.
For the most bug spotting, do these during the spring season or summer. Perfect for at home science centers if you are looking to do some fun summer learning activities.
Of course, you can do these during the colder months, you just may have to look a little harder to find insects outside. This book by Linda Glaser is an excellent companion when learning about insects in the winter.
In this article you will find easy and fun learning tools that promote art, literacy, math, while learning science.
Make sure to check out the bottom of the post for additional resources including a book list which includes field guides and free web resources.
Insect Math Activities
Get ready to practice math with your bug enthusiast with these insect math activities. These bug themed activities encourage counting, graphing, and basic sorting skills. Easy to adapt for little learners or older children.
Counting Insects and Data Collection
These activities can either be done as exploratory outside activities, paper based lessons, or a combination of the two. Kids of all ages enjoy hands on math activities as ways to learn new topics or sharpen skills.
Insect Scavenger Hunt Checklist
Go on a guided insect hunt using the free printable insect pocket guide. Print off and fold up to create a pocket sized guide. Or take along a clipboard and a pencil.
As kids spot the bugs on the sheet, have them add a tally mark next to the image. At the end of the activity, have them add up the tallies to find the total. Record the total in the box next to each bug.
Record Using a Nature Journal
If counting bugs outside, simply have children keep a list of the different insects they find. Record data in a science notebook, nature journal, or piece of paper.
As they find more of the same type, they can add tally marks next to the insect name. Add up the tally marks to find the total.
Guided Insect Hunt
Older children can record the different species they see while exploring the outdoors. The free templates below are for beetles and insects overall.
It would be so much fun for kids if they each selected a different type of insect to tally. After they collect and record data they can share their observations with each other.
They can even compile all of the results from this insect activity into one large data base.
Graphs can be made using their own data along with a separate graph for the shared results. That leads us into the next activities which are all about analyzing data!
Data collected from a nature walk or insect scavenger hunt can be turned into a graph. If you are looking for data that kids can analyze these two printables can be used.
Young children can color in the sheets, count and tally the number of each insect, then turn their data into a graph. The example below is a digital one, but these would be fun to create in a science notebook.
Pictographs and bar graphs are the easiest for young learners to create. Older children who know how to calculate percents can create a pie chart (circle graph) to represent the "habitat" as a whole.
Even preschool aged kids can count and point to the different tyeps of insects on these printables.
Easy Insect Crafts
Kids of all ages love crafts. As a mom, I try to create easy crafts that require simple supplies. The less complicated the better and the more likely I am to do them with my child.
Free Printable PDF Templates
Dragonfly and Butterfly Clips
Print off these dragonfly or butterfly coloring sheets for an easy bug themed craft. All you need are coloring supplies (I used water color paint), scissors, tape, and clothes spins.
- Download then print off the insect worksheets
- Color or paint in the images
- Cut each one out individually
- Attach a clothes pin to the back using glue or tape
- Clip the insects around the yard or inside the house
- Go on an insect hunt to find all of their creations
Interactive Ant Artwork
You will need at least one ant printable, coloring supplies, a large piece of paper or construction paper. Optional: glue or a glue stick to stick down the ants.
- Download then print the free ant printable
- Color or paint the ants
- Cut out the ants
- Draw a scene for the ants (ant hill, picnic, garden, etc.)
- Move around the ants using your fingers across the scene
- Optional: glue down the ants onto the scene
*Helpful hint: to create smaller ants, print off two ant printables on one sheet of paper.
Additional Crafting Tips
I simply taped together two pieces of water color paper then used black sharpie to draw a scene freehand. With older children, they can draw their own background.
This fun hands on activity can be made when learning about ants and ant colonies. Or do this craft after spotting ants around the yard. The scene can represent the spot where your little one spotted the ants.
Not into ants? Use the butterfly, dragonfly, or ladybug printables instead!
My toddler was trilled to paint the scene and place the ants on the large paper. I can picture older children really enjoying creating a detailed ant habitat on a large sheet of paper.
Butterfly Crafts for Kids
These nature inspired butterfly crafts are perfect for kids of all ages. Fluttering about during the warm months, butterflies are always a child favorite. Even as an adult, I love spotting them in the yard.
Crafts use materials found in nature, simple art supplies, and a few simple household items. Pick and choose based on your child's interest. Check out the FULL post here to see all of the craft ideas in detail.
Insect Alphabet Activities
Young children and emergent readers will enjoy these printable coloring sheets. Uppercase and lowercase letters along with a blank space to write out the complete name of the insect.
Pair these with an insect hunt or nature walk to see the bugs in their natural habitats. Or simply use these to create an insect themed writing center.
Coloring sheets are a fun way to practice letter recognition and fine motor skills. Plus little learners just really enjoy coloring.
If done outside, kids can get some fresh air while practicing art and literacy. These preschool insect themed printables would even be fun for older kids.
Insect Sorting Activities
Use any of the free printables on this page to create sorting activities for young children. Print them off, cut them out, then the sort them into groups based on different characteristics.
Pair this activity with a bug book to learn new things about each insect. Research simple facts then encourage little ones to create new groups using the information they learned.
Easy Insect Flash Cards
Little learners love looking at beautifully colored illustrations. Create your own by by coloring in a few different insect printables.
With emergent readers or elementary aged kids, use them to create matching games. Simply, create word cards to go along with the printables.
Children can then match the word with the correct image. Another fun way to practice literacy skills or create an at home science center.
Use color words such as purple, blue, orange, and green. Or use the name of the actual insect.
Visual Matching Game with No Text
For little learners or even older children who are interested in art, create a matching game using the butterfly, dragonfly, or ant printables.
Matching by Reflection
- Print off one of the insect sheets (ex: butterflies)
- Color each individual picture using unique colors
- Using scissors, cut the image in half.
- Match the two parts of the image to recreate the whole bug
Matching by Color
- Print off at least two of the insect sheets (ex: ladybugs found here)
- Color two of the images the same color
- Cut them out
- Kids can pair up the two insects that are the same color
Additional Nature Themed Sorting Activities
If you are looking for more sorting and classification activities for your young learners check out these two past posts:
- Fun Sorting and Classification Activities for Toddlers: Flower Themed
- 50 Best Sorting and Classification Activities for Preschoolers
Evidence of Insects
Half eaten leaves, spider webs, and even insect nests can be frustrating for a gardener, but are great learning opportunities!
Head outside with your kids to hunt for evidence of insects. Children can act as nature detectives who observe the landscape looking for clues of the presence of insects.
Clues and Evidence
|holes in leaves||dead insects|
Even a small space or one tree can provide clues of insect activity. This huge beetle (still alive) was found crawling up a tree with a hole in it while on a nature walk in the woods.
Look at all of evidence of insects on this one tree! Holes, nests, sawdust, webs, and even a live insect can be spotted.
Many kids love to draw and create illustrations. Creating scientific drawings and diagrams are fun and a very important skill in science.
In this activity, kids of all ages can use a resource to label the parts of the insects. Field guides, children's books, and websites are great learning resources.
Adult Dragonfly and Nymph Diagrams
Speeding through the air during the summer, dragonflies come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors.
Dragonflies are invertebrates meaning they do not have a backbone, like we do. Their body is covered with a hard exoskeleton.
If you ever spotted the remains of an exoskeleton left behind from a dragonfly nymph molting into an adult dragonfly, then you have seen the empty shell.
The empty shell looks like a little creature perched on the lily pad!
The three main insect body parts are the head, thorax, and abdomen. They also have two antennae and six segmented legs.
They have an exoskeleton that contains sense organs for sensing light, sound, temperature, wind pressure, and smell. Insects typically have four separate life stages: egg, larvae or nymph, pupa, and adult.National Park Service, US Dept of Interior
Print off and use this dragonfly adult and nymph stage worksheet and label the body parts. Or use any of the other printables in this post.
Simply cut out and paste the image into a nature journal or science notebook.
Fun Fact: not all dragonflies that you spot are actually classified as dragonflies. Damselflies look very similar to dragonflies, but have a different wing structure.
Observing Dragonfly Nymphs
Dragonfly nymphs are extremely fascinating, if you live in an area with dragonflies, I encourage you to go on a hunt at a local water source with your child to try to find them.
Nymphs can live in the water for up to five years before undergoing incomplete metamorphosis to become an adult!
Whereas an adult lives for only a few days or a few months. An adult dragonfly's purpose is to reproduce and create the next generation of dragonflies.
Extend the Lessons with Learning Resources
Turn these activities into a full on insect unit of study by incorporating a few learning resources.
Books and Feild Guides
- National Geographic Pocket Guide to Insects of North America by A. Evans, J Travnicek, and F. Baptista
- The Beetle Book by S. Jenkins
- Beautifully illustrated and information packed book for kids of all ages
- Bonkers about Beetles by O. Davey
- Another information rich beautifully illustrated children's book
- Soar High, Dragonfly by M. Lambert
- Beautifully illustrated picture book
- Filled with dragonfly life cycle information
- Won the Science Book Award in 2020
- Britannica Kids: Insect Page
* These are not affiliate links
How do you learn about insects with your kids? Let us know in the comments below!
These printables were created by Nature Inspired Learning and are for personal use only. They are designed to be a tool that can be used for early learning success. All of these free printable insect activities are for non-commercial use. Have questions, send me an email at email@example.com.