I don’t like bugs. Period. At all. Not even a little bit. But my kids do. They think all types of insects, spiders, and other creepy, crawly creatures are fascinating. Parenthood has definitely made me more tolerant of countless things (bodily fluids, lack of privacy, random screaming…). My pre-kid self would never have entertained the idea of making a home for the inhabitants of this planet that I systematically avoid. However, parenthood changes you. For me personally, there is no better evidence of my undying love for my kids than these homemade bug houses and the bug hunts we’ve been on since making them.
The idea for this bug house was inspired by The Magic School Bus – Explore the Wonders of Nature kit that we recently bought (affiliate link, not sponsored, but highly recommended). The kit provided the mesh that we used to make these houses out of recycled containers, though mesh could also be purchased separately for not much cost. Given how inexpensive the kit is as a whole and how many fun activities are included, I think it’s a great value, so much so that I just signed up for their monthly science kit (affiliate link, on sale now for $9/month with coupon code MSB10, regularly $20/month).
My primary motivation for making these homemade bug houses was to give my kids another reason to ask to be outside. I really want my kids to grow up to be nature lovers. Maybe it’s naïve of me to think that I can counteract the lure of modern technology, but I would love for my kids to choose to spend time outdoors rather than in front of electronic devices when they’re older, at least some of the time. In pursuit of this goal, we try to have outdoor picnics, journal in our “nature notebooks”, and go on short walks once or twice a week. If it will encourage my kids to experience nature to the fullest, I will even violate a life long rule of mine and willingly come within 10 feet of an insect. (However, I still draw the line at bringing bugs into the house. We’re exclusively a catch-and-release family.)
Recommended Age Range: Preschool, Kindergarten, Elementary
Time Required: ~20 minutes
Cost: Less than $2 in used supplies
- An empty container with a lid
- Small piece of mesh for covering windows
- Decorating supplies like paper, markers, stickers, etc. (totally optional, your bug isn’t going to know the difference)
Supplies & Tools:
- X-acto knife
- Glue stick
- Packing tape
- Scissors or paper cutter (optional, for cutting decorative paper to size)
- Ruler (optional, for measuring paper before cutting)
- Cut windows in the container using the X-acto knife.
- Decorate paper using markers, stickers, or other craft supplies and cut it to size.
- Attach decorative paper to container. You may need to use more than one piece depending on the size of your container.
- Cut “X”s in all the windows with the X-acto knife.
- Fold flaps in and glue onto the inside of the container.
- Cut a piece of mesh slightly bigger than each window.
- Tape the mesh onto the inside surface of the container around each edge.
- Before placing your captured bugs inside, first put some dirt, grass, leaves, sticks, and other bits of nature into the container to make your guest feel more at home.
Now your containers are ready for a bug hunt!
Now you’re ready to catch some bugs.
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maryanne @ mama smiles
These are pretty cool! The netting makes them fun for kids to use and much nicer for bugs than the standard plastic or glass container.
Thanks! I’m sure they’d be nicer for bigger bugs, but so far I’ve only allowed lady bugs and roly pollies! I was going to let them put a spider in there, but the transfer from glass to bug house was so nerve-racking for me that we ended up just throwing the spider outside.
Alice @ Mums Make Lists
Big bug fans here but afraid they usually end up in jam jars – these definitely much better!
Jam jars definitely work too when kids can be trusted not to break their jars. Maybe when my toddler’s a little older!
These look great! My boys would be thrilled to have these to use in the yard. I don’t mind bugs, but spiders terrify me ;-)
Since living in the mountains I’m actually *starting* to get used to spiders. I still don’t go near them, but I also don’t have minor panic attacks every time I see one across the room any more. :)