Clay & Bead Snails – Bug Craft

This isn’t a Pinterest perfect craft, but much of what we do in our preschool classrooms are far from “Pinterest perfect” because we choose activities that meet our student’s needs and help us help them develop skills. This bug craft is no exception. This cute little snail is a great activity to help build several skills. You could use playdough for this craft, but the air dry clay offers more challenge as students knead and roll it. We want that challenge because manipulating clay helps develop hand strength that our students need for future skills like handwriting, utensils, and tying their shoes. Adding small little beads encourages counting – ever noticed how children will naturally count as they craft? Cool right? – as well as fine motor skill development. So basically, what I am saying is don’t shy away from simple crafts like this because they might not be Pinterest perfect, but they could be perfect for your class.

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How to make this preschool bug craft

Gather your materials. You will need some air-dry clay, beads, and googly eyes if you want. Children will also need a surface that they roll out the clay on. My virtual students have cookie trays that work great for this, which is good because we will be doing this over zoom as a group this week!

Start by kneading the clay. Let your students explore. When they are ready, have them start rolling it out.

Keep going!

Coil it up like a snail.

Time to add an eye.

Now time for beads.

While doing this craft, I have had children explain that they would rather make a caterpillar or butterfly… awesome, go for it! The point of the activity is to spend some time manipulating clay and beads because both those things help to develop hand strength and fine motor skills.

Let the snails dry overnight before sending these masterpieces home.


Preschool Bug Books

Mrs. Peanukle’s Bug Alphabet is such a sweet book with just the right amount of facts about each bug to keep children engaged without overwhelming them. I read it to my multi-age class over zoom and had them tap their head when we got to their first initial, and it was fun. We all learned something new about bugs while exploring letters at the same time. It is a board book, but it worked great for 3-5-year-olds.


bugs bugs bugs

Bugs Bugs Bugs! by Bob Barner is a good book for little ones interested in bugs but not ready for a full nonfiction science book. The book gave interesting facts about the various bugs introduced. But, the coolest part of the book is the page with the life-size illustrations of all the bugs. The illustrations are bright and fun, and the length is perfect for toddlers and young preschoolers.


From Caterpillar to Butterfly by Deborah Heligiman is part of my favorite nonfiction for kids series, “Let’s Read and Find Out Science.”  I always grab these books at garage sales and thrift stores. In this edition, you follow a classroom of students observing a caterpillar as it metamorphosis into a butterfly. A classic spring activity for preschool-age children to discover and learn about life cycles. Also a perfect match for your own Insect Lore Live Butterfly Garden, which I highly recommend and will be doing this year with my son. Reading nonfiction with your preschoolers is important as it teaches them seamlessly that writing and reading are not just for stories but for information too.


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