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Build A Backyard Bug Hotel

Jun 10, 2015

Children love to observe bugs—plain and simple. This week, we all worked together to build the biggest bug attraction our backyard has ever seen: a bug hotel!

It's full of nooks and crannies for insects and spiders to hide in. It's layers and layers of natural buggy awesomeness!

This project has been one of our favourites. All the kids were engaged and excited as we gathered bits and pieces to create a cozy home for the bugs in our backyard.

First, we decided that it would be best to build the bug hotel in a crate of some sort. We used an old wooden wine box. 

The children were keen on using only natural elements in our bug hotel, so we went for a walk in the woods to gather the necessary supplies. These supplies included fat branches, skinny twigs, dead leaves, bark, rotted chunks of wood, pine cones, weeds and green and dried grass.

I suggested we use plastic seedling planters and empty tissue rolls stuffed with grass and leaves to create comfy bug "rooms". It's also handy to have string and scissors close by when building your own bug hotel.

A photo of the supplies needed to make a backyard bug hotel.

The children (aged between 18 months and eight years old) worked together tirelessly and in harmony on this project, each busy with their own task.

The smallest children were fantastic at gathering bits of dried leaves, pine cones and tree branches from the pathways in the woods.


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All the children, big and small, helped sort big sticks from small sticks, bark from leaves and grass from pine cones.

The preschoolers and kindergarteners stuffed the seed planters and tissue rolls with leaves, grass and little twigs.

A child stuffing a toilet paper roll with leaves and grasses.

The school-aged children bundled twigs and tied them with twine to create a layer of twiggy goodness.

First, we layered the heavy, rotting logs on the bottom of the wine crate, followed by the fatter branches. Then came the stuffed tissue rolls. Feel free to use a bit of hot glue to stick the rolls together so they don't fall out. 

Then we added a row of tiny twig bundles, stuffing pine cones and other sticks and bits in-between to make a tight fit. The tighter the fit, the less likely it is that things will fall out of your hotel.

We added the seedling planters, bark and topped it all off with big fat pine cones (the toddlers were very happy to help with this step).

A child stacking all the elements of the backyard bug hotel.

The children all worked together to create a sign for the top of our hotel. I put it in a frame and hot glued it to the crate, then we found a cozy spot in the backyard to set it up.

When you're creating your own bug hotel, there are no hard and fast rules. You just need dark little hidey-holes where the bugs will feel safe and happy, protected from birds, lizards and other bug predators. Happy building!

A completed backyard bug hotel.

Article Author Arlee Greenwood
Arlee Greenwood

Arlee is an Early Childhood Educator, earning her degree at BYU Idaho. She runs a government accredited care center in her home in Red Deer, AB. She studied with the New York Institute of Photography and she owns her own photography studio. Arlee is a mother of 6, an aspiring yogi, a lover of books, bento box lunches, travel, good food and wine. She’s a blogger in her “spare time” and she will never say no to chocolate. Find her at Small Potatoes, on Twitter and on Facebook.

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