One of the main focuses in kindergarten science is understanding life cycles. What is a better way to learn about life cycles than to observe them?! One of the easiest life cycles to observe is of insects because each part of the cycle does not take too long and has distinct features. The ladybug life cycle is the one that I start with, and it is how I choose to start science for the year.
The Power of Observing the Life Cycle of Ladybugs
Simply having the ladybug larvae, pupa, and adult ladybugs in the classroom for the students to observe sparks so much curiosity and engagement. Students are fascinated with watching them for changes. I always start by showing them the larvae and then putting them in the ladybug land. The larvae is pretty unusual compared to other insects, so they love to observe them. I also include models of the different stages so that students know what to look for. After sparking their interest in observing the ladybugs, I usually encourage them to look in books to find the answers to their questions.
Reading About the Life Cycle of Ladybugs
When possible, it is so powerful to have students look in non-fiction books for purposes. For example, when children have questions about the ladybugs, I encourage them to look in the ladybug books I have. As adults, when we have questions, we research the answers. We should help our students to do the same! These are the books that I own about the ladybugs. They are a range of reading abilities but have great images to help all students learn from them. I had a powerful experience where the students were asking questions about the ladybugs, reading about the ladybug life cycle, and acting out what they had learned with our ladybug life cycle models. It was so meaningful for them.
I also love to give my students emergent readers about the life cycle to help them better understand and remember the cycle.
Writing About the Life Cycle of Ladybugs
Once during every stage, I want my students to make an observational drawing of what they see. I use my ladybug journal to help organize their drawings. This is a great opportunity to teach students about drawing exactly what they see, with lots of details, just like scientists. Children, especially at the beginning of kindergarten, have such different abilities. So, depending on where the children are, I might encourage them to label their picture or add words or sentences, or simply tell me what they see and I can dictate for them. The key here, at the beginning of the year, is the power of teaching others with our drawings. At the end of the unit, I love to have students reflect on what they have learned about ladybugs by drawing and writing what they have learned.
Where do I get the ladybug larvae?
I get my ladybug larvae from insectlore.com They usually arrive as beginning larvae (as opposed to eggs) because I do not order the overnight shipping.
Where do I get the ladybug land?
Insect Lore! Before we had the ladybug land, we used some other kinds but they had holes too big and the larvae kept escaping!
How much care do they need?
When they are larvae, they come with all the food they need. You just need to add a drop of water every couple of days. Once they become adult ladybugs, you just soak a few raisins and cut them up and leave it in the land. After a few days, you need to release them. So…. Not much work at all!
How long does the life cycle usually take?
About three weeks – the first week they are larvae, the second week they are pupas, then they become adult ladybugs by the third week. After a week of adult ladybugs, they should get released.
When can I release the ladybugs?
You want to release the ladybugs when the temperature is decently warm – at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit.