My husband calls our collection of bug barns “bug execution chambers,” and I’ll admit very few get released back into the wild alive. But it’s a small price to instill a life-long love for nature. Bugs are an excellent entry point to engage kids in the natural world. They wiggle, crawl and fly. You can catch them and hold them. They actually do stuff.
Besides, these poor bugs are the closest thing my kids have to pets. My daughter proudly and unabashedly drew an ant on her “All About Me” preschool poster in the space designated for your family pet. Recently, an earthworm lived on the bathroom counter in a bowl of dirt for a good two-week run, getting spritzed down nightly.
Jump on the bug bandwagon this Saturday (June 22) during “Bug Day” at the Cradle of Forestry. Naturalists lead bug hunts and bug walks, both on forest trails and around the edge of a pond, with plenty of nets and magnifying glasses to go around for all. There are bug crafts, science talks on bugs, and a bee colony will be on display, along with other bug stations.
Take a lunch and make a day of visiting the fabulous trails and exhibits of this national forest recreation site. Admission is $5 for adults and free for kids 16. It is just four miles off the Blue Ridge Parkway, south on U.S. 276.
For some indoor down time, free kids’ movies are back for the summer at Smoky Mountain Cinema in Waynesville. Every Tuesday and Wednesday at 10 a.m., Smoky Mountain Cinema shows a second-run family movie with free admission, obviously hoping to make their money off concessions in exchange. Check their Facebook site or call 828.452.9091 for each week’s movie.
Free family movies are also shown weekly at the library in Bryson City at 3:30 p.m. every Tuesday during the summer. Call 828.488.3030 for the movie of the week.
Libraries, in general, are a great stomping ground in the summer with numerous special programs to keep kids tuned in and turned on — even those hard to crack teens. The Bryson City library is hosting a Henna Art program for teens at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, June 20, where they can get their own Henna tats. Then head over to the Sylva library to make Snake Knot bracelets — those cool, unisex, thick rope bracelets — during teen craft hour at 4 p.m. Tuesday, June 25.
And don’t miss a free show by Blue Moon Puppets on Wednesday, June 26 — held at 10:30 a.m. at the Waynesville library and at 2:30 p.m. at the Canton library. The professional puppet troupe from Charlotte will do a show that encompasses short renditions of three fairy tales with a modern twist, like Princess and the Pea with a “rapper” for a prince. Come early to get a seat.