Skin Tone Exploration: an Integrative Study of Community

The preschool has been exploring the concept of community through the lens of Rights and Responsibilities.  We discuss and study the rights of ALL community members and the responsibilities associated with protecting those rights for everyone in our communities.  This requires a deeper understanding of the many similarities and differences that are inherently human to promote an appreciation of our uniqueness and the beauty of the diversity of humanity and the natural world around us.   As children explore the concept of self and others, they develop understanding of similarities and differences in conjunction with shared experiences with others in our communities.

Skin tone is one of the more overt attributes of an individual’s outward appearance and one of the first characteristics we notice about a person.  Unfortunately, it is also closely related to how people are viewed, treated and their access to resources in our society.  This makes skin tone exploration imperative to the discussion of community and the creation of a classroom culture centered around rights and responsibilities.  We aim to inform and influence how children learn and interact with each of their various communities and support a deeper understanding of humanity and our responsibilities to self and community.

We  approach exploration of our skin tones through literature, discussions of melanin ( the chemical that gives our skin its shade), geography of our ancestors & human migration and the use of  skin tone art materials (crayons, colored pencils, markers and watercolor paints) to represent our skin tones.

 Preschoolers explore the skin tone art materials, provided with mirrors for reference and self reflection.  Their initial experience tends to include many of the tones. They make observations about people they know with skin tone the shade of the markers, crayons,and colored pencils. 

 They hold skin close to their peers’ and teachers’ skin and make comparisons “My skin is darker than yours.”  Armed with the knowledge of the chemical melanin and its role in our skin tone,  they  say, “ You have a lot of active melanin.”,  “I know why your skin is darker than mine.  You have more melanin.”

They make discoveries about societal names for skin tones. “I’m black.  This {pencil} is brown.  It matches.”  “Hey, Im white but this white doesn’t match, not even my belly.”   This reinforces the many variations in skin tone and the fact that we all have some melanin.  They are beginning to experience the shortcomings/ inaccuracy of labels.

 As they work we hear:  “ I love this color brown.  I wish it was mine,“” I’m all these colors and purple” .    When children experiment with the skin tone art materials , working side by side and sharing their observations and discoveries it reinforces the idea that the skin tone is a single attribute of a person.  This becomes one shared experience they have with their friends and teachers along with many other positive shared experiences. Children learn that we can not be diminished to a single attribute, characteristic or aspect.  ‘My friend… likes to paint and has … skin tone.’

Leo tests skin tone crayons to his belly
He confirms his closest match on his hand

Samples of the preschoolers’ initial exploration with the materials:

Children begin to create a match for their skin tone after they are familiar with the materials and the numerous represented shades offered in the materials.  They use mirrors for reference place their hand on the paper for reference.  Most  discover that they are unable to create a match using a single shade in any of the mediums. This involves a process of experimentation; comparing our skin to the marks, layering shades, accepting a match, recognizing the shades used to create our match and eventually name their skin tone recipe. 


Children explore with the skin tone art materials many times. During this process they make discoveries about self and others. Children learn that our characteristics cannot be defined or simplified to a single label or product created by others meant to represent us. Therefore labels created by society cannot diminish our rights, determine our value, or be justification to limit our access to resources.

The need to layer multiple tones to create our match illustrates the role of  our ancestors in determining our skin tone.  It is evidence of  human migration out of the fertile crescent in Africa indicating that our ancestors all  had darker skin tone at one point if you go back far enough.  Our skin tone  is influenced by where and how far away from the equator our ancestors lived.

June 12th Activity Bundle


fahmida azim for npr

Fahmida Azim for NPR



Exploration of skin tone is an important early step in understanding differences and dispelling the idea of value based on the color of our skin. We must start very early to explicitly teach children that skin color is simply pigmentation and does not indicate personal specifics about individuals.  BCS starts teaching this in the infant room.

Children learn that our skin tone is determined by the amount and how active melanin is in our bodies. They learn that melanin is simply a chemical that helps protect skin from the effects of the sun and that an individual’s melanin is determined by two factors:  how close they live to the hottest part of the earth (equator) and the melanin of their ancestors.

When investigation into skin tone happens at an early age children learn to understand the biology of skin color and the wide variation in skin tones.  When explored in a group of peers with whom they have positive relationships, it reinforces understanding that skin color is simply an attribute and does not determine one’s value.  

Blue Preschoolers create their skin tone recipe using skin tone watercolors. They mix watercolors, to match their skin tone, keeping track of which colors they used in their recipe.  They then name their skin tone color. It is always wonderful and enlightening when children realize that rarely can their skin tone be represented by one color. 

Here is a reading of book introducing the variety of shades within humans:




There are ways to explore our skin tones at home without specifically marketed skin tone art materials. 

Skin Tone Exploration Search

Search for items around or home or in nature that match your skin tone.  Place your hand or another body part up against items and see if you can find matches.


  • Can you think of objects that might match your skin tone? 
  • How close is the match? 
  • What color(s) do you see in your skin? 
  • If this doesn’t match what are you thinking about where to search next? 
  • How would you describe the colors of this match?




Skin Tone Recipe

Use sets of crayons or colored pencils that have a variation of colors found in skin tones (browns, tans, golds, oranges, reds, yellows, peaches). 

  • Start making light marks on paper, checking the mark with your skin with each addition for a match
  • Determine which color should be added next to to get a closer match
  • Layers colors on top of each other
  • Keep track of the colors you used to create your skin tone match
  • Name your skin tone.


All ages:  
DEVELOPING SELF – SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT: SELF AWARENESS Goal 1: Children demonstrate an awareness of own personal characteristics, skills and abilities
LEARNING ABOUT THE WORLD-COGNITIVE: INQUIRY Goal 1: Children make sense of the world around them by actively gathering and interpreting information.
LEARNING ABOUT THE WORLD – SOCIAL STUDIES: FAMILY AND COMMUNITY – PHYSICS, GOVERNMENT AND SOCIETY Goal 1: Children identify themselves initially as belonging to a family, a group and a community; eventually they develop awareness of themselves as members of increasingly wider circles of society and learn the skills needed to be a contributing member of society. 3.Explore the similarities and differences among people 
READING – ENGAGING WITH LITERATURE AND INFORMATIONAL TEXT Goal 1: Children develop “book language” and demonstrate comprehension 3.Make connections between stories and real-life experiences
Toddlers and Preschoolers:
COMMUNICATION AND EXPRESSION – CREATIVE ARTS AND EXPRESSION :VISUAL ARTS Goal 1: Children create art using a variety of tools and art media to express their ideas, feelings, creativity; and develop appreciation of the art created by others. 1. Create artistic works through an open-ended process that reflect thoughts, feelings, experiences, or knowledge



Part I: How to Explain Racism to Kids

Part II: Abby Cadabby Shares a Personal Story

Part III: Viral Child Starts Reunite

Follow the link below for all the videos:

Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism



June 11th Activity Bundle





“It has been said that actions more often than not speak louder than words. And if this is so in the case of child-rearing, then we must be especially vigilant in our actions to shape the values children will attach as they learn about people in their world. If we don’t, they will learn by default the messages that are already prevalent out there and both we and they will contribute to perpetuating past ideas which we do not want to replicate in our children’s future.”

Carol Brunson Phillips (1987)

What is it?

A shift from past theories of ‘multiculturalism’ to embedding practices of awareness, information, development of empathy, critical thinking, and activism, in current curriculum and everyday conversations.


Why is it important?

Spoken and unspoken messages are influencing children today/here and now. By empowering children with information we will counteract the influence of harmful messages such as racism, sexism, classism, ablism, and general discrimination.


What is the goal?

To help each individual develop an authentic identity, as well as, build a caring, just, and diverse community for all.

To build awareness, empathy and comfort with people beyond each child’s immediate environment. We are showing each child they are valued without upholding white culture, heteronormative values, gendered roles, ableist and classist norms. 


Where is it in our classroom and where could you include it in your home?

Self Observations and Discussion

Categorizing at this age is developmentally appropriate, children notice how others differ from themselves and their family. We steer away from supporting social constructs and stereotypes by having intentional discussions about our differences and similarities. 

With this curriculum we aim to normalize conversations about skin color, therefore reducing shame around race for individuals and families of color, as well as, white individuals and families. This openness allows children to be scientists making observations about their bodies, society and freedom to ask questions.

Reducing stigma brings increased recognition of unfair treatment and biases in individuals’ lives.



Often stereotypes come from a singular storyline. We loosen the hold of these messages by reading a multitude of books that offer many different sides to storylines that uphold non inclusive or untrue social norms.

Literacy allows children to access situations, feelings and topics that might not be present in their everyday life. It is a means to study how others live, giving context to inaccessible experiences, growing students’ knowledge of the world and laying a foundation for relating to others.

We return to stories over and over, asking our students open ended questions, recording and presenting their ideas to the group. This not only develops, but also encourages critical thinking skills while showing our students they are valued thinkers.

Book List


When students tell stories they become creators, collaborators and learners.

Our variety of therapeutic storytelling builds authentic self identities of children. We discuss each individual’s wants and needs, opening dialogue around how each person wants to be treated by peers and teachers. This acknowledgement of each person’s validity grows self awareness, self esteem as well as empathy for others despite differences.

Through storytelling we practice skills such as direct communication, compassion, consent, rejection, compromise, listening, asking questions, patience, acceptance and unconditional positive regard. 

The simple act of sharing lays a foundation for standing up for oneself and others. When we feel heard, we learn to speak up, becoming active members of our community.

This skill is unbelievably important in a society where often there is silence.

Modeling and encouraging the practice of listening creates a path for both those who speak, to know they can be heard, as well as for those who listen, to respect and find value in the words of others.

We are advocating for children now, seeing them as people not just as someone that will grow up into a person.


Resources for parents:

30 Day Anti-Racist Challenge

June 10th Activity Bundle


love hollie friot

Resources for Parents:

How to Talk to Your Kid About Race, Racism and Police Violence

How to Talk to Your Kid About Race and Justice

Why All Parents Should Talk to Their Kids About Social Identity

cheat sheet




This is a great book about bodies and what we notice about our bodies and the bodies of others!  It recognizes on EACH page that we notice differences and that those may seem strange but are really variations in our physical bodies.  The book celebrates diversity of our bodies and acknowledges that we are a community of unique individuals.

This is an important book;  I like to start reading it very early so that children are familiar with it and can even participate as we explicitly teach that the physical aspects of our body do not determine value.   This is especially crucial in our society which  values some over others based on features of our bodies and sends so many value messages what is most desirable/valuable in regards to physical attributes including skin tone, height, hair color, fitness level, functionality of our bodies, and so many more!



All ages:  
DEVELOPING SELF – SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT: SELF AWARENESS Goal 1: Children demonstrate an awareness of own personal characteristics, skills and abilities
LEARNING ABOUT THE WORLD-COGNITIVE: INQUIRY Goal 1: Children make sense of the world around them by actively gathering and interpreting information.
READING – ENGAGING WITH LITERATURE AND INFORMATIONAL TEXT Goal 1: Children develop “book language” and demonstrate comprehension 3.Make connections between stories and real-life experiences





June 9th Activity Bundle

Note from Natalie:

Hello friends and community members,

I wanted to let you all know that this will be our last week of blog posts, ending on Friday, June 12th. I wanted to personally say it has been a privilege to be the editor of this blog and a contributor to the curriculum content. Everyone who helped create the curricula for the blog managed to successfully put out 75 blog posts since March, not skipping a single school day.

I wanted to say that I am so proud of my fellow educators for being able to pivot to online learning within 48 hours of learning that we would be closed and not missing a beat over the past three months. On top of that, we created beautiful, engaging and inspiring curricula for families to do at home!

Don’t forget that you can visit past posts and revisit and reimagine any of the curriculum we have provided for you thus far. Thank you so much to everyone who read our posts and supported us through this time; this work would mean nothing without all of our students and their families.

Have a wonderful summer! ❤

Love, Natalie



Illustration from All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold & Suzanne Kaufman


Resources for Parents:

Emma’s Resources

  • Skin Color Map & Values Map, Language Resources and more.

Embrace Race

  • Includes articles like: “Reading Race in Picture Books with Kids,” “Why are All the White Dolls Sitting Together on the Target Shelf,” “Your 5 Year Old is Already Racially Biased” and many more.

Raising Race Conscious Children

  • Includes articles like: “Corona Virus Gave Us Time to Explore Why #representationmatters,” “Reading Race: Pro-Active Conversations with Young Children” and more.





Part I

Part II


This is a book written by Bob Marley’s daughter, Cedella, based on his song “Three Little Birds.”

June 8th Activity Bundle


In light of what’s happening in America, we felt it was important to shift the focus of our blog to share dismantling racism materials for children and parents. BCS teachers engage with this work and these materials in our classrooms and online learning has made that harder to do. But we know that BCS parents have been doing an amazing job educating and supporting their child’s learning and development over the past three months. So we thought we would arm you with the most useful resources we have found.

We encourage parents to explore the parent resources first so when their children listen to the stories we have included, you will be better prepared for the conversations with your child after. These conversations might be uncomfortable, but your children are capable of having them and they are very important.

“Tell the truth, to yourself first, and to the children. Live in the present. Don’t deny the past… And know that the charge on you is to make this country more than it is today.”

-Maya Angelou

race by la johnson

LA Johnson/NPR



Categorizing at this age is developmentally appropriate and a great opportunity for parents to acknowledge what their child notices, and to discuss why the world looks that way.  This opportunity it two-fold:  responding and initiating.

Initiating. Categorizing (this includes race) is happening in infants as early as six-months and continues to be an important part of development for children up to 5 (and some of these can stick well beyond that age).  When you, the parent, point out skin color, you are having a developmentally appropriate conversation with your child.  By starting the conversation you are telling your child this is safe to talk about, what they notice is real and important.

Responding. For white parents, this can bring up feelings that you are ‘not ready’ to engage with your child’s inquiry around race.  Thoughts like “what if I don’t say the right thing?” or “I don’t know how to talk about this with my kid” can come up.  All learning starts with open conversations.  If you didn’t know about a type of bug or the answer to “why is the sky blue” you would figure it out and share your answers with your kiddo.  It is the same mentality when talking about race (however the impacts are very different and serious).  It’s okay to say “I don’t know how to answer that right now, but I love your question!  I am going to do some thinking/research/look it up, and we can talk/learn/find out together”.  Harm is done by deflecting or shaming (saying it’s not appropriate, not the right/good time to talk, not coming back to the topic, shushing a child in public) the topic.

Here is a great quick but thorough article for parents who want more information on the research around it Children are Not Colorblind by Erin Winkler (I know some families have seen this already, still a good reminder!)

 Resources for Parents:

How White Parents Can Talk About Race

Talking Race with Young Children

Your Kids Aren’t Too Young to Talk About Race





When one story ends, the next story should automatically play. There are 33 stories in this playlist.

Download your own PDF copy of “Not My Idea” by Anastasia Higginbotham here:

Free Download: “Not My Idea”

*Bonus Bundle*



This week, we thought we would address a topic common to most children at some point. That is the fear of monsters, especially at night.  There are many articles and websites that address this issue. There is even a popular movie (Monster’s Inc.) that looks at this from the monster’s viewpoint.

These fears usually rear their heads at bedtime or when your child awakes in the night and they can be hard to alleviate. Some of this can be rooted in a fear of the dark. Bedtime should be a special and memorable part of a little one’s day, but if your child is afraid of monsters or boogeymen or has bad dreams or nightmares, it can be anything but.  For some kids, when it’s time to turn out the light and say goodnight, fear and anxiety set in, turning bedtime routine into a bedtime battle that’s a stressful experience for the entire family.

“I have clear memories of jumping from the door to the bed so that the monster under there did not grab my feet. My father had to inspect the closet every night and make sure the door was firmly closed before I would go to sleep.”


Here is a video of one book that looks at nightmares read by Mercer Mayer, the author of the story.

There are many ways to attempt to solve this problem for you and your family. We liked the image below.


Worry Monsters:

One activity is to draw a picture or make another representation of your child’s worry monster. They can draw their own, or you can help them by drawing what they describe.  You can role play about your child’s fears and talk to the worry monster about them. The more we talk about those fears, the less power they have!





June 5th Activity Bundle




Exposure to books is one of the most important factors in development of vocabulary and learning to read which becomes the basis for learning in school.  One public school teacher put it this way:  ‘ In kindergarten to third grade children learn to read, from 4th grade on they read to learn’.  Some kids just don’t love books; they don’t gravitate to them, would rarely choose them on their own and it’s even hard to keep their attention when a favorite adult reads to them.

Here is some information about types of books to help engage your child and promote a love of books:

Song Stories

Picture books that are songs draw children in initially with music.  Children will often join in singing a familiar song.  The purpose of the book is to provide illustrations for the lyrics.  Song stories are great for children who hardly ever gravitate to books because they experience them as music.  You may feel shy about singing a book but don’t worry children love to hear their adults sing and they don’t judge the quality of our singing voices!

A song book from a previous post:

The More We Get Together (4/16)

Over in the Meadow: An Old Counting Rhyme:

Acting Out a Favorite Story

Many stories are just plain fun to act out!. Some explicitly invite acting out and each ‘part’ can be acted out by everyone.  Others have more of a plot and are best divided into parts played by different people. Many give children permission to act out feelings.   Monster stories are favorites as they allow children to be monsters within the context  of the story.  All promote self expression.  Acting out stories is great for children who have a hard time sitting still for a book or don’t gravitate towards books because they are active.

Some fun books to act out that can be found on previous posts:  

Where the Wild Things Are (4/8)

The Three Billy Goats Gruff (4/23)

Pretend You’re a Cat by Jean Marzollo:

Stories with No Words

Books with no words use the illustrations to tell the story.  The illustrations may be very simple for younger children or very elaborate with many details for older children.  Babies and younger toddlers love looking at faces; many wordless books for this age are books with faces depicting a range of emotions or books with animals.   Wordless books help children build their vocabulary, their observation skills and make connections.  They offer an open ended, child-directed approach to exploring books.   When reading wordless books with children ask questions: 

  • What do you notice/see? 
  • What is … [character]  doing? 
  • Why do you think they are doing that?
  • How do you think they might be feeling?
  • What you think is happening?
  • What might happen next? 

When reading with younger children, point out your observations in the illustrations.

Wordless book from a previous post:

My Face Book (4/9)

Rain by Peter Spier:

Books about Life Experience using Animals

Children are often drawn to books with animals as the main character personified and experiencing some aspect of life.  They add an element of humor to the story as children wonder if the animal really behaves in a particular way or has an experience.  They are wonderful tools for helping children process various experiences in life that can be confusing because the child is one step removed from the animal in the story.  They are particularly great for processing feelings and transitions.  Kevin Henkes, an author, has written many we love at BCS.

Kevin Henkes book from a previous blog post:

Wemberly Worried (4/29)


Here are some general things to help build interest and engagement in books:

Subject Specific Books

Seek out books about things your child is interested in or excited about.  The library is a great resource.  Burlington Fletcher Free Library has an online system for searching and reserving books with a subject search.  Virginia Lee Burton, an author, understood the value in books about things that interest children when in the 1940s she had two children who did not enjoy books. She realized there were not many, if any, written about the things her sons were excited about so she wrote several about vehicles and a house that ‘moves’ to the city.  Children who don’t normally seek books are drawn in by a subject that excites them.

Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton (audio):

Reading with pets, stuffed animals or dolls integrates books and dramatic play. Children may browse books with a special lovie or pet. 

emma 1

Melissa’s daughter, Emma, frequently read to family dog, Marta.

emma 2

Emma reading to her babies.

Having a quiet book time in bed before lights out with a stack of books allows your child to browse books independently at their own pace and experience the calming effect of books as they regulate and get ready to fall asleep.  Books at bedtime reinforces positive relationship with books, eases the bedtime transition and supports interests in books

emma 3

Emma continued this tradition for years.

Some other BCS teachers and loved ones enjoying books!

Sheila’s daughters read together when they were younger!


Natalie’s big sister reads to her in their favorite rocking chair.



All Ages:
COMMUNICATION AND EXPRESSION – LITERACY DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION READING SKILLS Goal 1: Children develop the foundational skills needed for engaging with print, reading and writing. 
Goal 1: Children engage in making and listening to music as a vehicle for expression and learning.
COMMUNICATION AND EXPRESSION – CREATIVE ARTS AND EXPRESSION THEATRE Goal 1: Children engage in dramatic play and theatre as a way to represent real-life experiences, communicate their ideas and feelings, learn, and use their imaginations.
DEVELOPING SELF-APPROACHES TO LEARNING INITIATIVE  Goal 1: Children show curiosity about the world around them




ART in PLACE: Social Distancing in the Studio

“Welcome to The Eric Carle Museum’s first online exhibition, ART in PLACE: Social Distancing in the Studio, organized while the Museum remains shuttered due to the pandemic. We asked 21 picture-book artists, isolating in studios around the world, to share their most recent work with us. We were curious to know how creativity is sustaining them during these long and worrisome days. It is our hope that their art will provide comfort to you too, and even spark your own creativity.

Science will get us out of this. Art will get us through this.”

Follow the link below:


June 4th Activity Bundle




In the hot summer months, BCS kids love love love getting in their bathing suits at school and running through the sprinklers!

We make our “sprinklers” by hanging our hose up on the wall with a shower head nozzle/sprinkler head and letting it run. It’s a funny set up but it works just fine!

Tip: Don’t forget your sun hats and sunscreen!

Here are some BCS kids enjoying the sprinklers (and the inevitable mud) last summer:

A child discovers that the water reflects the sun to make a rainbow!


Dancing joyfully in the water!


Enjoying a refreshing sip of water!



Collecting water for the water table!


Playing in the water table!










Helping each other rinse off all the mud!


Here’s a good way to get clean!

Try making your own sprinklers:

diy sprinklers

PVC Pipe Sprinkler:


Plastic Bottle Sprinkler:

Tinker Toy Sprinkler:

Pool Noodle Sprinkler:


Hula Hoop Sprinkler:



“Fox goes on a summer hiking expedition in search of a rare flower described in his botany book. He encounters many other forest plants and animals along the way before finally finding “the golden glow.” Read this to inspire kids to plan their own summer hikes.”



June 3rd Activity Bundle




As I take walks near parks and through neighborhoods I am reminded of having a picnic. There is something magical about picnicS. They feel and look different for every family.  As I walk by the backyards, parks, wooden picnic tables and grassy hills I see many variations of having a picnic. This is a fun way to explore the outdoors and enjoy eating with nature. It changes the energy and the mood within all of us. We can look at flowers, maybe see some ants, listen to birds, hear fire trucks and be mindful of sounds around us. You can find space on big rocks, the front steps, a grassy hill, a table in a park or your yard. You can make this a simple snack time or dinner time meal.

Here are a few ideas to get you started for your picnic: 

Food ideas:


☆Carrot sticks
☆Bread & butter

Toys to bring:

picnic 2

♡Favorite stuffed animals
♡Markers and notebook

Things to do:

picnic 3

□ Set up your stuffed animals on blanket like you would if friends were with you
□ Look around in the grass and pick flowers
□ Look for four leaf clovers
□ Practice listening skills
□ Do some yoga poses
□ Roll a ball or play game with it
□ Read some books together
□ Play Simon Says
□ Play follow the leader or copy what I do
□ Create a rhythm (clap hand, tap knees) follow beat

Having a picnic is a nice change of pace. Talk about what to bring for food before your outing. If the children can help get things ready, have them pack it into a bag. Brainstorm a few spots that will work for your family and venture out.


Goal 1: Children develop healthy eating habits and knowledge of good nutrition.
Try new foods
Eat a variety of nutritious foods and communicate that some foods and beverages are good for them (e.g., milk, fruit, vegetables) and some are not (e.g., soda, snack chips)
Choose to eat foods that are better for the body than others, with assistance


Goal 1: Children identify themselves initially as belonging to a family, a group and a community; eventually they develop awareness of themselves as members of increasingly wider circles of society and learn the skills needed to be a contributing member of society.

Goal 1: Children construct concepts about the physical characteristics and locations of familiar to more distant places, and the impacts of people on the environment. They also construct concepts about their own cultural identity and learn to appreciate others’ cultures.




Part I:

Part II:





When children have opportunities to interact with wildlife, a whole new world of wonder can open up. There is so much information out there that shows children who are supported in their love for animals tend to generalize that love to other living things. This includes plants and animals!  When children are encouraged to care for animals, they tend to be more sensitive and caring toward other people as well.  By providing children with the opportunity to observe and care for wildlife, you are helping nurture those feelings of connection and empathy of ALL living things. 

One form of wildlife widely and easily accessible to us is bugs/insects. There are also several learning moments when exploring bugs. As we all know, children are not aware of their power.  This means that often children simply don’t expect to kill insects when they step on them, and children can be quite upset to learn that the bug has died.  This is a great moment to educate children on how their bodies impact others around them.  You can bring in the language of “gentle” or “careful” to encourage the appropriate touch or lack of when exploring little tiny bugs. 

As we do with all other life situations it is important for you to allow children to observe and share their discoveries.  Encourage their questions and conversations.  By giving your child a moment to explore wildlife, they are learning the importance of the world around them.  It takes the focus off from themselves, even if just for a moment.  Drawing your child into the moment and being present with them when finding bugs, is a great opportunity for shared learning within families.

If you are afraid of bugs or wildlife yourself, it is important to provide these opportunities for your child to become comfortable with exploring their surroundings.  You can encourage them from afar and still be a part of their learning.  

Exploring bugs/insects requires nothing more than curiosity and willingness to engage and observe.  Further investigation can include magnifiers to introduce perspective and change. You can provide paper and a drawing medium to represent observations.

Here are some pictures of children exploring bugs at BCS over the years! 


“I find an ant, I be so gentle” – 3 year old

bug 2

2 year old exploring the feeling on an ant on the hands.

bug 3

“I be so gentle.” – 3 1/2 year old

bug 4

1 year old observing a beetle from the window screen.

bug 5

Dead bugs are also great for observing, drawing and talking about life cycle!

For older children, bugs and insects are a great opportunity for observation and further scientific exploration. You can provide materials for your child to draw, write or ask questions.  Although it is sad to find a dead butterfly, it is such a great learning moment. Teaching life cycles to children is a way to introduce children to the concepts of birth and death, which I am sure will bring lots of questions! 

So next time you are out and about, whether on a walk or just hanging in your yard, take the opportunity to slow down and look around to see what kind of bugs or other wildlife you might see!


Vermont Early Learning Standards (VELS): 

LIFE SCIENCES – Goal 1: Children construct concepts about the characteristics of living organisms, their biology and ecosystems through exploration and investigations.
  • Explore the characteristics of living things
  • Interact with plants and animals