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Fostering a Love for Animals and Insects

Activity ideas to engage kids in nature

July 8, 2020

By Katie Carpenter

Summer is the perfect time to encourage children to observe wildlife – whether it’s in a wild, wooded place, in your own backyard, or even online! Observing plants and creatures fosters a love for the natural world, builds empathy and curiosity, and can even help to develop problem-solving skills.

Together, your explorations can build confidence and may even help to overcome fears about animals, bugs, and the great outdoors.

Hand holding a brown tarantula

While observing, ask lots of questions to help your child engage deeply in their exploration and discovery. Encourage your child to ask questions and seek out the answers together.

Here are five engaging questions that will help your child think and talk about their experiences as they explore.

Track your adventures by creating a field journal of the things you saw together. And check off activities on your summer bucket list!

Below are some ideas to help your child learn about animals, insects and the great outdoors, while having fun! Happy exploring!



From creepy crawly to stunningly beautiful, these activities will spark an appreciation for insects and their tiny, but magnificent lives.

Watch INCREDIBLE INSECTS from TPT’s Hands-on Science
Many of the most amazing living things are small enough to hold in your hand!

Helping Children Overcome a Fear of Bugs article
Useful tips for helping your kids learn more about bugs and insects without fear.

Curious George Bug Catcher game
Test your bug-catching skills with Curious George!

Houston Zoo Leafcutter Ant Cam
What’s going on in the leafcutter ant habitat at the Houston Zoo right now? Find out with the live webcam.

Butterfly Wings from DragonflyTV video
Emily and Julie and are crazy about butterflies! At a trip to a museum butterfly house, they learn that their favorite butterfly, the blue morpho, can change the color of its wings from blue to green thanks to tiny, nanoscale structures on the wing surfaces. They test various butterfly wings to investigate which are colored by pigment or by structure.

Act Out the Life Cycle of a Butterfly
Help your child learn about the stages of metamorphosis!

butterfly puppet


There’s a lot that you can observe and appreciate right in your own backyard! Explore at different times of the day to see what’s different. Create a bird feeder to attract birds to your yard.

Create Clay Animal Tracks
Has your child ever discovered an animal track? Was it in snow or mud? In this activity, kids can turn their favorite animal tracks into art by imprinting on clay. When they’re done, hang the finished pieces on the wall or gift them to someone special!

Curious George Animal Tracks
This printable coloring activity encourages kids to identify animal tracks and the animals that made them.

Act Like an Animal
Activity sheet to create a Critter Catcher to pick an animal, then behave like one!

Girls birding outside
Bird is the Word from SciGirls

SciGirls- Bird is the Word 
Birds are fascinating animals to watch, and it is fun to to learn how to identify them. Follow these ideas for how to get started on your bird watching expedition. Spanish version

Molly of Denali Field Guide to Birds
Another easy-to-use field guide to birding from our friend, Molly of Denali.

How to Make a Plastic Bottle Birdfeeder
Transform a recycled plastic bottle into a simple homemade birdfeeder. Then, watch the birds flock to your own yard!


Visit a virtual Zoo! There are plenty to choose from. But, watch out! These animals are so adorable that you may be hooked watching all day to see what they’re up to!

Houston Zoo Gorilla Habitat Cam
Houston Zoo’s western lowland gorillas share their expansive outdoor habitat with a small family of red river hogs. The gorilla habitat is large, and the gorillas have an indoor habitat as well, so you may not see them on camera all the time.

Smithsonian National Zoo’s Giant Panda Cam
The Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s Panda Cams invite you to watch giant pandas Tian Tian and Mei Xiang. Tip: Be sure to toggle back and forth between Panda Cam 1 and Panda Cam 2 using the tabs at the top of the video player to get the full Panda Cam experience.

Coloring Sheet: Curious George with a Panda
Now, color your own panda with Curious George!

Flamingos at a zoo

Houston Zoo Flamingo Cam
What’s going on in the flamingo habitat at the Houston Zoo right now? Find out by checking out the live webcam.

Go wild with these engaging animal-themed Wild Kratts’ games!
Wild Kratts Monkey Mayhem Game
Wild Kratts Rhino Bowl Game

Check out the Wild Kratts Creaturepedia to learn about animals and their habitats!

Michelle Obama and Barack Obama Read Giraffe Problems and The Bear Ate Your Sandwich:

Make Paper Bag Animals
Get ready for your child’s next puppet show by creating these cute paper bag animals. You can make an eagle, an elephant, a lion, or a raccoon.


Hot in this summer heat wave? Take a dive into the cool depths to discover a vibrant world, buzzing with life and color!

Georgia Aquarium Beluga Whale webcam
Tune in to this special webcam to become mesmerized by these incredible sea creatures, and get to know their unique habitat.

Now, listen and sing along to the old-school children’s classic, Baby Beluga, by Raffi!

Boy looking at jellyfish at a zoo

National Aquarium
There’s nothing like experiencing the National Aquarium firsthand—but their live cams are the next best thing! Watch jellyfish, check out colorful coral, and explore the Blacktip Reef!

African Penguin webcam
See what shenanigans these little guys are up to! Their busy lifestyle will charm and entertain you, as well as help you learn.

Monterey Bay Aquarium Sea Otter Cam
Peek inside the exciting world of sea otter life with this live web cam!


Explore more summer fun and daily kids programs and activities at TPT Home Learning!

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