Bugs and slugs

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North Alabama Agriplex Director Rachel Dawsey, left, and Heritage Homeschool participant Bella Kent, right, search for bugs at Friday morning’s “Bugs and Slugs” program. (Christy Perry for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Area homeschoolers had a little creepy crawly fun Friday morning thanks to the North Alabama Agriplex’s Heritage Homeschool Program. October featured “Bugs and Slugs,” allowing the youngsters to learn about insects, spiders and other creatures found in gardens and other areas in north Alabama.

Agriplex Director Rachel Dawsey led curious kids around the grounds as they visited several unique stations created to make learning about creepy critters entertaining. In the rain garden, students saw several up close. They learned about different spiders, stink bugs, beetles, slugs and more.

The children were each given a small specimen jar and took a few minutes to explore in hopes of finding their own bugs. Five-year-old Scarlet Freyeisen said of her prize catch, a small spider, “I think he’s cleaning his face.” A millipede and a roly-poly were among the other great finds. The bugs were all released before the group headed to learn about honeybees.

Freyeisen’s mom, Emily Freyeisen, said, “We like coming here and it’s always been really special for us. She loves it. She is always out in the yard flipping rocks over and seeing what she can find. She’s a very curious girl.”

Shanda Kent, who came with her daughters Brooke and Bella, said she loves the program. “We absolutely love it. It’s very hands-on and very educational and we just love it.”

The Kents have taken advantage of several of the monthly activities and make the trip from Union Grove for the fun.

Autumn, Amber, Anna, Matthew and Ava Adkins, along with their mother Michelle, came and had a great time.

Said their mom, “What is really cool, we got to come to the Saturday class, the Kids Club, and bring our pigs. Our daughter Amber got to teach the segment on the kunekune pigs. That was so awesome, and I told Rachel that we’ve been coming here for so many years and we got to give back!”

At other stations, the kids learned about bees, worms and the anatomy of insects.

Dawsey explained, “They did ‘build a bug.’ They played a little game like the old Cootie game. They did an insect symmetry snack to learn about how insects are even on both sides. They also did worms, so they learned all about worms and their body parts and how they live.”

According to the Agriplex, “Heritage Homeschool is a series of hands-on programs for homeschoolers (kindergarten and up) and their parents once a month. Students will be divided into and older and younger group with parents expected to assist their children. The program is held on Thursdays or Fridays from 9-11 a.m. Class fees are $8 per child and adults are free. Max cost is $16 per family.” The next Heritage Homeschool events are Nov. 19 on woodworking and Dec. 10 on leatherwork.

For more information visit https://agriplex.org/WPtest/heritage-homeschool.

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Christy Perry

christy@cullmantribune.com