Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Male and female eastern amberwing dragonflies on flowers.
Male and female eastern amberwing dragonflies. Photo by Steven Severinghaus.
Children’s Garden from Home
Hello Children’s Garden Families and Friends, 

This week, we’ve been noticing buzzing bees, squirming worms, and rolling pill bugs. The Children’s Garden is home to thousands of different insects and spiders. In this email, we will do some digging into the theme of bugs! 

Scientists who study insects are called entomologists. You can be an entomologist too, by investigating all the insects in your neighborhood or park. Learn a little about why insects are so essential in this short video.

Now read on for songs, crafts, and recipes with an insect theme! 
Video Lesson: Insects
(Ages 4–6, 30 minutes)
Screen shot of a video lesson about insects with Emily and Ashley
 Video lesson on insects by Emily Carter and Ashley Gagñay.
Join Emily and Ashley to learn about insects, sing about the parts of an insect’s body, make a fun snack, and answer your questions and comments about insects and gardening. Keep the questions coming!  
Let’s Sing: The Insect Song
(All ages) 
Pictures of insects (dragonfly, bee, ladybug)
Point out the parts as you sing the song! 
(sung to the tune of Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes

Head, thorax, abdomen, abdomen 
Head, thorax, abdomen, abdomen 
Two eyes, four wings, six legs, antennae, too! 
Head, thorax, abdomen, abdomen 
Let’s Create: Leaf Insects
(Ages 4–13, 2030 minutes plus nature walk) 
Scissors, glue, tape, and natural materials (leaves, sticks, acorn tops)
Glue being used to make craft.
Craft insect with stick for body, leaves for wings, and an acorn top for head.
Leaf insects made with natural materials.
Photos by Ellen McCarthy.
Make leaf insects and butterflies from sticks and leaves. Gather natural materials from around the neighborhood or park, and get creative making your insects!  

Glue, tape, scissors, natural materials 

Use a twig to make an insect body. Then glue on leaves to make wings. Acorn tops work well for the head. Use tiny seeds for eyes or you can cut pieces of the leaf to make small details. 
Let’s Cook: Worms in Dirt and Buggy Snacks
(All ages with adult assistance, 15 minutes) 
Pudding mix, cookies, almond milk, and gummy worms.
Sprinkling ground up Oreos onto pudding.
Small bowl containing pudding and gummy worms.
Chocolate yogurt in a bowl with gummy worms.
 Photos by Ellen McCarthy.
This creepy, crawly sweet treat is easy to make with kids as there is no baking or heating necessary. It looks like you’re eating a bowl of dirt filled with worms! Are worms insects? Why or why not? While we make this in the Children’s Garden as a special treat, if you want a healthier option, you can use chocolate yogurt, granola, and fruit. 

1 package instant chocolate pudding (requires 2 cups of milk) 
56 Oreos or other sandwich cookies (or use granola) 
Gummy worms (or fruit cut into worm shapes)
Make the pudding according to package directions. Spoon the pudding into small individual cups. Place 56 cookies in a sandwich bag and use a rolling pin to crush the cookies into small pieces. Sprinkle the crushed cookies (or granola) on top of the pudding. Top with a few gummy worms or worm-shaped fruit pieces. If you wish, you can make ahead of time and let chill in the fridge. 

Alternative Option: Veggie & Fruit Buggy Snacks 
If you want another critter-themed snack, use whatever fruit and veggies you have in your house to make insect shapes. Pretzels make good wings! Check out some examples below.
Fruits and vegetables (orange, apple, grapes, carrots, and celery.
Celery with cream cheese and pretzels, resembling an insect with wings.
Orange pieces and grapes arranged to look like an insect.
cherry tomatoes, carrot, and grapes arranged to look like a caterpillar.
 Photos by Ellen McCarthy.
Let’s Create: Herbal Bug Spray
(Ages 513, 15 minutes)
Container of witch hazel, spray bottle, and medicine dropper.
Witch hazel being poured into container.
Essential oil being dropped into container with eye dropper.
Bug repellent being sprayed onto an arm.
Photos by Ellen McCarthy.
If you have spent any time in the Children’s Garden in the spring or summer, you know that mosquitoes and other biting bugs are lurking around! These bugs are a part of our natural ecosystem and have an important place in the food chain, even if it feels like they are more annoying than helpful. Use this recipe for an herbal bug spray that will keep you pest-free while still being kind to the earth by not using harsh chemicals. 

1 small spray bottle (wash and reuse a cosmetic bottle) 
½ the bottle’s worth of distilled water 
½ the bottle’s worth of witch hazel (found at the pharmacy) 
2030 drops of essential oil (try bug-repellent herbal oils like rosemary, thyme, mint, cedar, lavender, citronella, tea tree, or lemongrass) 
*Essential oils can be purchased at grocery stores like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and many other stores. While you only need a small amount for this recipe, stashing away essential oils is great, as they have medicinal and therapeutic properties. 

Fill your spray bottle halfway with distilled water. Fill the rest with witch hazel. Add about 2030 drops of your favorite essential oils. Screw on the top of the bottle and shake well. If you have glycerin, you can also add 1 teaspoon to the mixture, though it is not necessary. 

Science Experiment:
Test how well this natural repellent works! Spray one arm with the natural herbal version you made, and the other arm with traditional insect spray. Record your findings!
Let’s Play: In the Soil, On the Grass
(Ages 48, 1030 minutes)
Children running around and playing, with a sprinkler nearby.
Photo by Greta Pemberton.
This is a follow-the-leader group game. Players all stand in a circle and declare what kind of bug or insect they want to be, and model a movement to match their chosen insect (buzz and wiggle like a bee, flap wings like a butterfly, etc.). The leader will stand inside the circle and call out commands. If the leader calls out “in the soil,” all the players should jump into the circle. If the leader calls “on the grass,” all the players should jump back out of the circle. 

However, if the leader reverses the order and calls “in the soil” and the players are already in the circle, anyone who jumps out of the circle is eliminated. The same goes for children who jump into the circle when “on the grass” is called. The last few remaining participants are the winners, and one of them can become the leader. Another command that the leader can call out every so often is “insect frenzy!” and players must hop, wiggle, and fly around like mad inside the circle until another call is made. 

Feel free to invent your own insect calls as you play.
Bugs and insects are one of our favorite topics to explore in the Children’s Garden, so stay tuned for our next email where we will learn about another type of special insect that helps to make our garden beautiful and full of flowers, fruits, and veggies. Can you figure out what type of insect we are thinking of? Keep an eye out for our next email to find out. As always, send along any photos or stories from your nature adventures at home!

Until then, we’re sending best wishes,
Emily, Ellen, Ashley, and Greta  
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