Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Preschool Science: Ladybugs

  *Did you know ladybugs go through metamorphosis like butterflies? I didn't.

*Did you know ladybugs are actually beetles? I didn't.

*Did you know their bright coloring tells birds not to eat them because they don't taste good? I didn't.

These are just a few facts we learned from our recent preschool science project on ladybugs, which was inspired by Maureen of Spell Outloud's post "Spring Preschool Science Planning." As a mom of 7, Maureen knows how to homeschool a variety of ages, including toddlers and preschoolers, and she has a knack for making learning fun--something I definitely try to do with my kids.

Here's what we did:

First of all, I ordered the Insect Lore Ladybug Land from Amazon. Right now the kit is on sale for $14.06, down from $19.99 {price subject to change}. The kit includes the following: An observation habitat with magnifying lid and watering pad, pipette, activity guide, full instructions, & mail-in coupon for 15 to 20 ladybug larvae and food.

Once Ladybug Land arrives, you need to either mail in or order online the ladybug larvae. It will arrive about a week later in a plastic tube filled with all the food needed until the lady bugs become adults. It is imperative that you put the larvae into Ladybug Land immediately. I did not and we lost about 1/3 of the larvae. Also, be sure to add water with the pipette (included) every other day. 

Then wait and watch. There's a magnifying area on top of the observation habitat where you can see the larvae up close and personal. 

The larvae look like tiny crocodiles. I've never seen anything like it.

When the larvae began to pupate, we watched as they stuck to the side of their home. We talked about the changes that were occurring inside, comparing the lady bugs to butterflies and their process of metamorphosis. 

Approximately 4 weeks after our larvae arrived, we had ladybugs. They were in the pupa stage for about a week. Only 5 of the 13 larvae we received survived to the ladybug stage, but that in itself was a miracle because there were days I completely forgot to water them. Once the ladybugs "hatch" from the pupae stage, you have to add chopped up raisins or aphids (if you can find them) for ladybugs to eat. 

Once the ladybugs eat the raisins (or the raisins start to mold :) ), we set them free. We released the ladybugs in the morning in our front yard. The older girls were afraid to hold them, but the baby and I did. 

Books on Ladybugs

I highly recommend the following books, which I bought for our science project:

We also read these books, which we already owned:


Ladybug Coloring Sheets & Activities

In addition to ladybug books, the girls colored pictures of ladybugs from here and here and did various counting and pre-writing activities.

Links to other ladybug activities:

Ladybug Life Cycle Cards {FREE from Montessori Print Shop; beautiful photo cards plus coloring sheets}

 In Conclusion

All in all, learning about ladybugs and watching their metamorphosis was an amazing science lesson!  My toddler was too young to appreciate the process, but she did spend a lot of time looking at "the bugs" and asked LOTS of questions. My 4.5 year old enjoyed reading the books and doing the activities but didn't spend much time observing the ladybugs. Maybe she's still too young or ladybugs aren't her thing. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed learning about ladybugs, and when my girls are older, I certainty plan to revisit this science project. I've cleaned my Ladybug Land so we're ready to use it again in the future.

Have you ever studied ladybugs? What about butterflies, ants, or praying mantises? What should we study next?

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  1. This looks SO FUN! I wanted to do ladybugs this year but the kids were all about butterflies again. We may use your unit without the live bugs though. We just discovered the Ladybug Girl series too and my girls (and boys!) love it. :)

  2. What an awesome project!! What child is not fascinated by lady bugs. My granddaughter LOVES Lady Bug Girl! Thank you for sharing all of this. I may just try this with my granddaughters. I visited from Titus 2 Tuesday & am so glad that I did!

    1. Thanks! I hope your granddaughters enjoy the project. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.