Have you ever heard of the venus plant? If you are a preschool teacher you are about ready to find the most epic bug activity for preschoolers ever! What kid does not enjoy hearing about the bug-eating plant!
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A couple of years ago I was visiting my local garden store when a strange plant caught my eye. It was a small plant, but it looked like it had mouths with teeth protruding from its roots. I was hooked. I had to know what this odd plant was and what it did.
Turned out, it was a fairly well-known plant called a Venus Fly Trap. Where had this been all my life? It probably had something to do with the fact that I’ve lived in Minnesota for my entire existence, and this plant is native to warmer areas.
It just so happened that I had made my big discovery right before V week in our Literacy Adventures class. It was like a teachable moment had slapped me in the face. I bought one and brought it to class. We didn’t do much with the plant besides "ooh" and "aww" about the oddness. I read a little and shared some fun facts, but that was the extent. A few weeks later, my ignorance won over and I definitely killed the little plant. However, it was a great bug activity for preschoolers so in the end it all worked out!
Fast forward to this year, and V week is fast approaching again. I was again fascinated by the little plant and wanted to integrate it into our already busy V week. Unfortunately, my local garden store was not getting the plants in for another 2 weeks.
I had to turn to a mightier source. Amazon.
Amazon has little Venus Fly Trap plants for about that $10 mark. They come in a gel that keeps them alive and sufficient until they start growing right out of the little glass terrarium they come in. My largest disappointment was that the little mouths and teeth that make the plant so fascinating were not quite visible yet. The carnivorous plant is still absolutely fascinating, and I would absolutely spend the $10 again to get my hands on one of these. You can purchase one here. In future years, I would just plan a little ahead and order a few months in advance.
The company that sells these little wonders is called Bloomify Tech. They have ample information about caring for these maintenance-free little plants. Not to mention they are aiding in creating a fantastic bug activity for preschoolers.
Most of the curriculum that I found centered around upper elementary students. The graphs, charts, and activities were over-complicated for 4-5 years old’s. I wanted to teach about the little Venus plant in a way that encouraged literacy discovery and comprehension. It is also a lovely bug activity for preschoolers that will stretch their learning skills just a wee bit.
One of the easiest ways to take a topic and create imagination for learning is through engaging books, a simple activity, manipulatives or dramatic play, and a writing prompt. This takes the child from discovery to application in a way that increases love for literacy, which is what we are all about!
Venus Plant Bug Books for Preschoolers
- Hungry Plants by Mary Batten
- Plantzilla by Jerdine Nolen
- V is for Venus Fly Trap by Eugene Gagliano
- Venus the Very Proper Fly Trap by Lynee Burton-Hupp
Venus Plant Parts
I also wanted to briefly teach during group time about the Venus Plant Parts. However, many of the lesson plans I found online were too detailed for a preschooler’s mind. I simplified it by making my own graph and including where the teeth, lobe, and petiole were located. You will also find a brief list of what appears inside the mouth to dissolve the insects captured.
Fun Facts for Group Time
- A bug is captured inside the Venus plant when the plant's hairs start to feel movement. At lightning speed, the mouth closes and captures the bug.
- Most Venus plants prefer eating ants, beetles, spiders, and grasshoppers. Not the typical flies that it gets its name after.
- A Venus plant can live for up to 20-30 years, but it must be taken well care of. It needs a proper environment with good air, water, and the right moss to live in.
- The digestive enzymes in the plant's mouth can take up to a week or longer to fully digest the insect. Yuck!
Informational Youtube Instructional Videos
- Naturalist Outreach by Cornell University – Carnivorous Plants
- Discovery Channel by Discovery – Life Venus Flytrap Catches Flies Plants
- Venus Flytrap in Action – This is a homemade video so the quality is not the best, however, there is no ‘scary’ or ‘epic’ music that might intimidate some learners.
During group time we also take time to practice letter V’s with whiteboards. The children each receive their own board and practice both upper and lowercase. A way to connect the learning is after the child has perfected their V’s they can turn the board sideways. The V will be sideways < and allow the child to turn it into a picture of a Venus plant mouth. We also get a kick out of all the creative ways children do this.
Bug Activity for Preschoolers - Venus Plant Activity
The activity we used was fairly simple, but the writing prompt inside is truly the main literacy event. Using two paper plates they cut V’s around the entirety to make the Venus plant teeth. For some children, they may need a pattern, and not all have the fine motor skills to go around the entire plate. Some teacher or parent assistance may be necessary. The top plate is cut in half and stapled or glued (I find stapling works best) to a folded lower paper plate.
- Green Paper Plates
- Children Scissors
- Large Wiggly Eyes
- Plastic Insects
- These are options but it is fun to encourage the children to try and beat the bugs with their homemade Venus trap.
The children can then add wiggly eyes to their Venus Fly Trap or draw a face on it with markers. We love letting them be creative and seeing the outcome! After their Venus plant is complete the child answers the writing prompts on the accompanying worksheet. They always write a portion of their response, and at this point of the year, most can write at least a sentence. Make sure they write their name on it too!
Finally, they can take their Venus trap to the insect area and try to eat the insects!
It’s so fun to create something with the children and watch the progress of learning.
Want more fun preschool activities like this one? Check out my preschool section here.