Story Time & Phobias
Okay, we don’t really love bugs, but they’re interesting creatures sharing the planet with us. Children are born mostly without judgment about creepy crawlies, until mom and dad scream in horror at a giant hairy spider. My boyfriend Josh once compared the size of a camel cricket to a bus and left it under a glass in the hall overnight. I’ve left a still running shower over a daddy long legs spider.
Evidence suggests that before the age of four, children don’t exhibit phobia. It’s as they get older they start to attach behaviors to fears and sublimate their anxiety into phobic panic.
Bugs are one of the most common phobias for children and adults. Children observe behaviors and soak up experiences, collecting data about how to react in certain situations. This can be totally great and life-saving when collecting data about not walking blindly into traffic, or touching the hot stove, or watching reality TV (just kidding). But when it comes to harmless critters (not poisonous bugs, mind you) extreme reactions can influence stress in situations that just don’t require it, and can lead to more phobic behaviors in the long term.
Parents and guardians are pillars of trust and imitation; the way you react to your fears will very much be an example to your children.
So let’s get our anxieties in check about some common bugs that will be found in the home or just outside the door.
We Love Bugs! Story Time Plan
Brochure/Parent Handout example:
Books to Read: Dialogic Reading Examples
- Have the children pretend to sip tea whenever you read the word “tea” on the page. It’ll become a workout.
- Ask the children why they think the other bugs are frightened of Miss Spider. Are spiders typically friendly to other bugs?
- Take a moment to imitate the faces, gestures, and movements Jan Thomas takes us through.
- Overcoming fears is a great topic of discussion here: ask the children what scares them, then discuss how to self soothe by making scary faces at their fears.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
- One of everyone’s favorite Carle books with some tactile flip page action.
- Great number practice: Count along with the children all the items the caterpillar eats.
Songs, Rhymes, and Activities
Itsy Bitsy Spider with Sign Language component for ASL learning. I love using ASL wherever I can in Story Times. Here’s a great example from My Smart Hands on Youtube:
Buzz Buzz Buzz: Body Parts & Bumble Bees
(Use a puppet or prop for this song, even just a print out of a bee to pass out to the kids words well)
Buzz buzz buzz, there’s a bumble bee, (use the prop to fly the bumble bee around in the air)
buzz buzz buzz there’s a bumble bee,
buzz buzz buzz there’s a bumble bee,
there’s a bumble bee on your HEAD! (Let the children shout out the body part that the bee lands on)
(Continue the rhyme with “Head”, “shoulder”, “arm”, “knee”, “foot”, etc. Usually what gets a big laugh is “tongue”)
Craft: Wiggly Cheerio Worms
There’s a great step by step tutorial on these worms at MamasLikeMe.com, and the kids at my Story Time loved it.
All you need are pipe cleaners and cheerios. I pre-glued googly eyes onto the ends of some pipe cleaners (for my ages 2-5) and left the googly eyes off for the youngest lap-sit ages, much to the gratitude of the lap-sit parents. You can make pre-sorted baggies with the pipe cleaner and 15-20 cheerios in each bag for an easier set up.
Let the children string cheerios onto the pipe cleaners, utilizing the strength and precision of their little fingers. Once they’ve strung all their cheerios, they’ll want to take them all off and do it again.
For a more permanent wiggly worm, you can use jumbo beads at home. Cheerios happen to be a very cost-effective activity, though.
Helpful References on Children & Phobias: