Invasive Species Awareness Activities for Kids at the US Botanic Garden

This weekend we enjoyed a load of activities at the US Botanical Gardens’ event for kids in celebration of National Invasive Awareness Species Week. The event, held on Sunday, February 26th, included an appearance by Woody, the owl – as in, “Give a Hoot. Don’t Pollute,” who was on hand for picture taking.

Throughout the west wing, interspersed between existing displays, were tables featuring a variety of interactive activities designed to help kids, and those accompanying them, understand why invasives are an issue and what we can do about them.

We were entertained by a magician who illustrated what happens when new species are introduced and mate with existing species. The activity captivated the kids’ interest and illustrated, in an exaggerated way, what can happen when invasive species are introduced.

Another table featured a game in which kids rolled dice and moved an insect along the game board the number of spaces reflected on the die. The facilitator then explained the significance of the insect that was represented on the space on which the player’s piece landed. The exercise was designed to help kids develop an appreciation for the “right” bugs.

My favorite table was the one featuring hissing cockroaches from Madagascar. These super-sized bugs — okay, maybe they were just an inch or two — were actually  quite amenable to being on display and being handled. Visitors were encouraged

to gently “pet” the critters, something my five year old didn’t even hesitate to do. I was thrilled to see our resistant seven year old give it a stroke and certainly couldn’t refuse when my turn rolled about. (At times like this I’m so grateful for the ways in which my kids help me to grow and stretch myself as I strive to overcome my own issues with bugs). Our bug-squeamish nine year old was no where to be found, but I am hopeful that with continued exposure, she, like me, will develop a tolerance and eventually an appreciation of the insect world.


At the same table, kids were able to use a full-fledged microscope and we got to test out handheld field scopes. We were able to view stink bugs, butterfly wings, spiders and flies under intense magnification. Fascinating! It certainly tickled that itch to get a microscope to enrich our scientific explorations.

To learn more about National Invasive Species Awareness Week, read this tip sheet, and stay tuned for my next Green and Simple column later this week!

What will you do to stave off invasive species?


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  2. […] Last month I wrote, “Invasive Species and Why They are a Threat,” and about, “Invasive Species Awareness Week Activities for Kids at the U.S. Botanic Garden.” […]

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