Think Beyond the Harvest for the Benefits of Gardening with Kids

Sure gardens can produce some of the tastiest vegetables and beautiful flowers, but the benefits to gardening with kids extends beyond the harvest.  They can strengthen life skills and enrich academic learning for kids as well.  The garden is our outdoor classroom.  Admittedly, gardens are work, but the benefits to garden with kids is never ending!

The Benefits of Gardening with Kids

9 Easter Theme Snacks for Kids

Connect children with a good book, then let them make a snack to go with it!  Here are 9 Easter Theme Snacks for Kids to make and eat - PLUS the books we think would pair with each treat. These would be great for classroom celebrations and Easter themed play-dates!

12 Easter STEM Activities for Kids

We are continuously looking for ways to help keep our kids excited about math, science, engineering and technology. This collection of STEM activities are a great way to combine the holiday with learning! Which of these 12 Easter Stem Activities for Kids will you try first?
12 Easy and FUN Easter STEM activities for Kids to make and do

Raise a Praying Mantis | Activities for Kids to Explore Life Cycles

Learning about life cycles of animals and plants help kids connect with the natural world, develop a deeper understanding of science, and strengthen their vocabulary.  Try these activities with children as you examine the life cycle of a praying mantis in your home or classroom.

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Raise a Praying Mantis | Activities for Kids to Explore Life Cycles

Life Cycle of a Praying Mantis for Kids

Observe the Life Cycle of a Praying Mantis:
My child is fascinated with the life cycle of a butterfly. We have raised many over the years and he is confident in teaching others about their metamorphosis. When I found out you can raise and release these helpful garden friends, I knew we had our next science project!

We have the Insect Lore Live Butterfly Garden and have had amazing experience with them.  If you purchase the butterfly garden, it comes with a coupon card for caterpillars. You need to redeem the card online and pay additional shipping the the caterpillars to be shipped.  The replacement Insect Lore Live Butterfly Culture are available on Amazon Prime too.

Where to Purchase:
We purchased a praying mantis egg case with hatching habitat at our local garden center.  They have it for purchase on Amazon as well.  Friends of ours have purchased the Insect Lore Live Praying Mantis Egg Case and said their praying mantis never hatched.  Insect Lore was able to send them a replacement kit to try again this summer.  We are currently in week 2 of waiting for our nymphs to hatch.


Tips for Raising and Viewing the Life Cycle of a Praying Mantis

Warm weather is needed for hatching. 
Do not keep inside an air conditioned building.
Many nymphs will not survive more than a few hours.

Life Cycle of a Praying Mantis Technology Connection:

This video shows the transformation from the egg - nymph - adult.  

Make a Praying Mantis Life Cycle Science Center

Ordering Life Cycle Stages: 
The praying mantis egg sacs must be handled with utmost care.  Although my children are tender handed, kind hearted children, we just used our visual observation skills to examine the praying mantis egg sacs.  This Praying Mantis Life Cycle Stages would be the perfect addition to a science center in your home or classroom.  Include a set of note cards with the stages on a table and encourage readers to match the pictures to the words and put them in order.

Draw and Label Body Parts
larger than life Praying Mantis can be added to the life cycle science center. This can be used for children to trace onto a piece of paper and label the parts; head, abdomen, thorax. Encourage children to use inventive spelling or provide a teacher drawn sample.

Sort and Compare:
Print picture of different insects and arachnids or purchase a set of plastic Insects & Arachnids Bugs.  Set them in a small basket.  Have the children compare and sort the collection in different ways such as by color or number of legs.


Science vocabulary word wall:  
Teach the children the "fancy" words for what is happening.  Kids LOVE to learn new words about the world around them.  YES, these words are hard, but I do not expect my preschooler to remember them.  We talk about them and write them down so that children have exposure to rich language.

Adult Praying Mantis
Photo Credit: Rainy Day Mum

Incomplete metamorphosis :the change from egg to nymph to adult -  no pupa stage during development.

Egg Case: 2-3 inch case holding up to 400 mantis eggs.

Nymph: Baby praying mantis that resembles the adult.

Exoskeleton: The outer layer on the praying mantis body.

Molt: The process of getting rid of the exoskeleton. A mantis can molt up to 10 times as it grows to it's full size.

Raise a Praying Mantis | Activities for Kids to Explore Life Cycles

Literacy Connections for Life Cycle of a Praying Mantis.

Display Fiction and Non-Fiction Books about Praying Mantis:
I was extremely surprised to see how many books actually do exist about praying mantis insects.  If possible, I would set out a fiction and or non-fiction book in the book nook or science center. Check your library to see if any of these books are available or consider purchasing one. If your classroom will be hatching praying mantis every year, consider getting a set and sharing with the grade level.

Add a Related Puppet or Toy 
We always like to have something interactive with our thematic reading units and like to include a toy or puppet for kids to practice story re-tellings and to help them create their own oral stories. This Praying Mantis Finger Puppet is cute.  No budget for anymore toys?  Print a picture and tape it to a craft stick.  Same idea - lower cost.

DIY Kid-Made Book
Have the children draw a picture of a praying mantis.  Encourage them to write a sentence about what the praying mantis can do.  Collect the children's drawings and staple them together to make a book.

Example: A praying mantis can eat.

More Activities for Explore Life Cycles with Kids from the #PLAYfulPreschool Education Team

Butterfly Life Cycle Activities for Kids

Butterfly Life Cycle Story Board by Growing Book by Book
Life Cycle of the Butterfly in Art by Powerful Mothering
Playdough Butterfly Life Cycle by Learning 2 Walk
Butterfly Life Cycle Craft Necklace by Fun-A-Day

Ladybug Life Cycle Activities for Kids

Ladybug Life Cycle Song by Capri +3
Ladybug Life Cycle Activities and Sensory Play by Natural Beach Living

Frog Life Cycle Activities for Kids

Life Cycle of a Frog Sensory Bin by Mom Inspired Life
Fine-Motor Frog Life Cycle Craft by Live Over C's
Frog Life Cycle Hopscotch by Tiny Tots Adventures
Frog Life Cycle Craft by Still Playing School

Mealworms Life Cycle Activities for Kids

Studying Mealworms with Kids by Raising Lifelong Learners

Sea Turtle Life Cycle Activities for Kids

Sea Turtle Life Cycle - Ordering by Rainy Day Mum

Praying Mantis Life Cycle Activities for Kids

Raise a Praying Mantis | Activities for Kids to Explore Life Cycles by The Educators' Spin On It

If your children are fascinated with science and exploring the natural world, you may consider getting the MEGA Life Cycles pack:

1,500 Live Ladybugs & 2 Praying Mantis Eggs & 1000 Green Lacewing Eggs Includes Ladybug Life Cycle Poster

Parental Controls Online and TV

Do you worry about what's appropriate for your child to watch on TV or visit Online? 

As a parent who is concerned about available TV and Online options for my children, I opted to participate in this is a sponsored campaign by

Tips for using Parental Controls Online and TV  from and The Educators' Spin On It

Let's be honest, TV and Online options are changing pretty fast for our families. Our children are exposed to so many more options than we were as children. Do you feel like you're keeping up with the latest shows, movies, games, sites to keep your child digitally safe?  

Parental Controls When Grandparents are in Charge 

After School Activities for Kids {Week 12}

Spring is here!  Did you share a photo on our facebook page a sign of spring in your area? Be sure to print out this Spring Journal and Observation Sheet for your child!

Easter is quickly approaching and it's time to plan out a few fun activities with the kids at home.  Stop by our 101 Easter Activities for Kids Roundup to find tons of easy and fun ideas!  For a fun snack idea you could make Bunny Bread .  Or maybe host a bunny themed book playdate with friends and a fun bunny themed snack.

Can't wait to see what you share this week about Spring and Easter!  

After School Activities for Kids featured at The Educators' Spin On It

After School Linky Party {Week 12} 

Why Every Child Should Take Swimming Lessons

It's the time of year when many parents are signing their kids up for swimming lessons (me included). Summertime is a great time to brush up on swimming safety, learn new swimming strokes, and strengthen our swimming skills. Our guest writer,  Kaitlin Gardner author of An Apple Per Day is here to share with you 4 reasons why every child should take swimming lessons.

Why Every Child Should Take Swimming Lessons this year.

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