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Zoomazium to You: Relax with Springtime Bug Yoga

Posted by Janel Kempf, Early Childhood

Editors note: While Woodland Park Zoo is temporarily closed to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus in our community, our staff and educators want to share a few ways you can connect young learners to nature and nature play... and what better way than to bring Zoomazium to you! Each week, we'll add an activity to this blog to help your family create innovative and educational play time at home. For information about our temporary closure please visit Enjoy these relaxing springtime bug salutations!

Springtime bug time! Photo by Gianni via Flickr
While we’re all helping our neighbors by staying home, some of our most important neighbors are hard at work just outside our doors—bugs! 

It’s springtime, and there are millions of insects, spiders, worms and other invertebrates (animals without backbones) doing their own special jobs. They might be flying from one early flower to another, pollinating as they go. Or burrowing through the soil, helping let in air and water. Or even waiting to catch other bugs, helping keep all the tiny ecosystems in our backyards in balance! 

Butterfly at Molbak's Butterfly Garden by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.
All those bugs are very focused on their jobs. Zoomazium learning facilitator Emily Felty suggests we can all learn from these little animals that run the world—we can learn to be mindful in everything we do! This is especially important for our youngest learners. Practicing calmness and body awareness is a fun way will give kiddos the tools they need to calm themselves in stressful situations.

So let’s take a cue from our spineless friends—try out some relaxing and calming Bug Yoga with your early learners! 

unsplash-logoJyotirmoy Gupta

Bug Yoga for Springtime Relaxation

What you need: Nothing if you have carpeted floors or soft grass; a soft towel, rug, or mat for each person if you have hard floors
Time: However much you have!
Age Range:
Ages 3 to 6 years

Grab a towel or yoga mat, or clear some space on a comfy rug or outside on the lawn. Sit comfortably on the floor with your early learner.

You’ll start by being Madagascar hissing cockroaches, who eat fallen leaves on the forest floor and turn them into soil for plants to grow in. But they also have to get ready by filling up with air so they can hiss and scare away hungry birds! Breathe through your nose all the way down into your belly, then push all the air out of your mouth. Make a hissing sound if you want! Do that a few times to calm and focus yourselves and be ready to stretch.

Madagascar hissing cockroach, photo by Liz West via Flickr
Now, imagine what it would be like to be a butterfly. There are so many different ones—ask your child what colors their wings would be if they were a butterfly! Then, sit with the bottoms of your feet touching and slightly out in front of you, knees falling open. Your legs are your butterfly wings—let your knees fall out to the sides. Flap your “wings” slowly and gently as you imagine floating through the air. Come to rest on a sunny leaf and let your wings open up as far as they can. If you want, bend forward over your feet, stretching your arms out forward as butterfly antennae! 

Beautiful butterfly, photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo
Sit back up. You’re going to become flamboyant flower beetles! You might have seen these beautiful animals in Bug World—and a few of them had probably fallen over onto their backs. From a seated position, roll gently onto your back. Bring your feet and arms towards the sky, grabbing your feet and opening them up wide, knees comfortably bent. Rock back and forth softly, as a beetle might to get back on their feet. 

Flamboyant flower beetle by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.
Once you’re flipped over, stay on your hands and knees, hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips. You’ve become Ambassador Animals Rio and Bonita, velvety Brazilian black tarantulas! They need to search for insects to hunt. Turn your face up and drop your belly toward the floor. No bugs up there, so arch your back and drop your head down. Alternate between those two positions slowly and mindfully a few times. 

Amazon Sapphire Pink-toe Tarantula, photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo
Now it’s time to rest. Sink down to the floor, and roll over onto your back. You’re an earthworm, resting in the soil. If you have a blanket your early learner finds relaxing, have it ready for this pose, pulling the blanket over them once they’re lying down. With or without a blanket, imagine the comforting weight of being wrapped in soil, warmed by the springtime sunshine!

A happy worm in the dirt. Photo by Dan Brekke via Flickr
Extension for all ages: If you have a backyard, or if you’re on a walk in an area you can maintain social distancing, turn over a rock or piece of wood and look under it. You’ll probably find plenty of bug friends hard at work! Watch them for just a few seconds—but don’t touch, these are wild animals who don’t know you mean no harm—then gently replace their shelter just as you found it. If you’re somewhere others might touch the object, sanitize your hands before and after touching. And when you come back in the house, be sure to wash your hands!

For previous week's Zoomazium To You activities, click the links below:

Play Like An Otter: March 16

Creature Feature at Home: March 23

Have you and your family tried any of our Zoomazium to You activities yet? If so, we'd love to hear how it went! Tag us @WoodlandParkZoo and use #ZoomaziumtoYou to share photos, stories or videos of your own Creature Feature sessions.