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It’s month two of Jump Into a Book’s Read Kids Classics Challenge, and my recommendation this month is George Selden’s The Cricket in Times Square. Both my preschooler and my older elementary child loved this book, and it inspired us to find a pet cricket of our own.
After months of reading intense fantasy and adventure books with my nine-year-old, the sweet, whimsical tale of Chester Cricket and Tucker Mouse was a welcome reprieve. We chose to listen to the audiobook version, and even my three-year-old was enthralled.
The Cricket in Times Square is the story of a young boy who finds a cricket in the subway of Times Square and begs his parents to let him keep it as a pet in their family newsstand. Chester Cricket has the amazing ability to replicate music with his chirping and becomes “the most famous musician in New York City.” Chester, who is from the country and arrives in Times Square by mistake, is befriended by Tucker Mouse and Harry Cat.
Last week I shared about how to keep an insect as a pet (Keeping Bugs as Pets: A Relaxed Approach to Homeschool Entomology), and that was exactly what we were inspired to do after reading The Cricket in Times Square. Keeping crickets as pets began in ancient China when they were kept for their songs and then for cricket fighting (I do not recommend this!). Elaborate cricket homes were made in the form of wooden cages, ceramic jars and gourds (reference). The gourds and jars enhanced the sound of the cricket’s song. Crickets are still kept as pets in China today and in other parts of the world.
Find your cricket. The best place to find crickets is in the house. When it is colder outside, they are attracted to the warmth. And you probably don’t want them crawling around inside anyway. My dad recently spent half an hour searching for a chirping cricket in the house only to finally discover that it was on his shoulder!
Create a home for your cricket. In The Cricket in Times Square, Mario initially kept Chester Cricket in a matchbox and then upgraded him to a seven-tiered pagoda cricket cage. You can purchase an antique cricket cage on eBay or a more modern one on Amazon.
However, a large jar with holes poked in the lid or an aquarium with a tight-fitting mesh lid work just as well for a cricket habitat. Make sure that you have a lid because crickets can jump. And make sure the top has holes or mesh so air can get in.
Fill the bottom of your cricket’s home with at least two inches of soil and some combination of sand, leaves and bark. Crickets also need places to hide so make sure to include things like cardboard toilet paper rolls or pieces of egg cartons. Although they can survive in cooler temperatures, they will sing more if they are warm and comfortable.
Give your cricket water. Crickets need water but not too much or they can drown in it. Try misting the habitat daily with water, or put water in a very shallow dish with a sponge or cotton balls in it (which you should change twice a week). According to the Amateur Entomologists Society, female crickets will lay their eggs in damp cotton or wool. If they do, remove the cotton and place it in a well-ventilated container in a warm place and the eggs should hatch in a week or two.
Give your cricket food. Feed your cricket fresh fruits, greens and grains (like oats). Fish food or birdseed also work. Just make sure to remove old food so it doesn’t get moldy. If you don’t feed your crickets, they will eat each other!
Research your cricket. Check out books from the library about crickets. Learn about how they sing, the differences between males and females, the anatomy of a cricket the types of crickets, how they breed and where you can find crickets. Crickets only live a few months, so be prepared (which explains why Chester “returned to Connecticut”).
Did you know that you can count cricket chirps to get the temperature?! Just count the number of chirps that you hear in 14 seconds and then add 40 to get the temperature in Fahrenheit.
For more about crickets, check out these books:
Joining me in this book-ish and fun campaign is a handful of powerhouse bloggers who are excited to share their very own #readkidsclassics picks! Please feel free to visit these #ReadKidsClassics bloggers to see what classic book reading fun they have created and watch for this specific hashtag on Twitter!
- Valarie at Jump Into a Book
- Jodie at Growing Book By Book
- Author Barbara Ann Mojica
- Lisa at Squishable Baby
- Susan at Sock Fairies/Ever Ready
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