I visited Thailand in 2003, a wayward university student looking for overseas adventures. The beaches were beautiful, but we spent most of our time in the North, visiting universities and learning about the culture and economy of Thailand. Many small towns in the north had daily markets, filled with local fruits and vegetables, handmade wares, and....bug stalls. Not like, "hey, come check out some beautiful bugs in these terrariums," but more like, "git yer roasted bugs! Piping hot!!"
The entire stall was dedicated to dead bug snacks. All carefully displayed in cardboard boxes.
Well, being 23 and slightly crazy, I ordered a paper bag full of some kind of roasted worm (I think they were meal worms), and I polished them off like I would a bag of chips. And they did taste like chips!
Fast forward some (erm...many) years, and eating bugs doesn't appeal to me so much. But the new Bugs Outside the Box exhibit at the Museum of Nature wants you to experience bugs on a whole new level. A life size level!!
The exhibit opened on October 23rd and features sixteen larger-than-life models of exotic insects, as well as live insects, videos, games and....yes, even some bugs to taste!
After taking the time to experience the whole exhibit, I wondered - would my kids even enter this room?
I'm not sure when and why it happened, but at some point, both my kids became frightened of bugs and spiders (fun fact - spiders are not bugs! They have eight legs and insects have six legs and three main body parts.) I chatted with one of the scientists at the Museum of Nature, and got some great tips for helping children to overcome their fear of insects
Tips for Helping Children Overcome Their Fear of Bugs
- Children learn through play. Attempt to engage them in "bug play." The exhibit features a spot where kids can "roll like a dung beetle," dress up in a bug eye mask, lift "weights" like a beetle does, and hop like a grasshopper (as pictured below)
- If live bugs freak them out, get kids interested in dead bugs. The Science Corner in the museum's Animalium gallery (also on the 4th floor) encourages kids to become "bug scientists." They can learn how to pin insects and practice their skills at drawing them as well.
- Start small with the easy-to-love bugs - my kids seem fine with butterflies and dragonflies. Not so much with beetles or stick-like bugs!
- Try to encourage your child to relate to bugs by explaining that bugs have families too! The display of stick bugs in the Animalium has giant "grandpa" bugs, and even teeny "baby" bugs. Kids love learning about families, even insect families!
- And finally - try to be a good role model. Your children learn by example, so you screaming and running away from a bug that lands on you probably doesn't help ;)
Are your kids afraid of bugs? Will you be taking them to the Bugs Outside the Box exhibit?