“1, 2, 3…4, 5, 6…7, 8, 9….10, 11, 12 Ladybugs came, to the ladybug picnic!” I introduced Beth to Ladybugs’ Picnic one day while reliving my 70s TV childhood via classic Sesame Street videos on YouTube. It was love at first viewing for Beth.
Since Beth has trouble slowing down to count while pointing or placing items, I thought an activity based on the Ladybugs’ Picnic video would be a fun way to work on counting. One idea lead to another and eventually we had a whole ladybugs and bees (with some other bugs thrown in) lesson.
Ladybug (and Bee) Math
Ladybugs’ Picnic Activities
I turned the 12 ladybugs in Ladybugs’ Picnic into a hands-on math activity. We made egg carton ladybugs, which was a fun and easy craft project (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=sr_nr_n_0?rh=n%3A2617941011%2Ck%3Aself-stick+foam+black+sheets&keywords=self-stick+foam+black+sheets&ie=UTF8&qid=1377448651&rnid=2941120011 and http://www.amazon.com/Fibre-Craft-120-Pack-Glue-On-Assortment/dp/B000XZTP9Y/ref=sr_1_2?s=arts-crafts&ie=UTF8&qid=1377448693&sr=1-2&keywords=self-stick+wiggle+eyes). Then we used our bugs for sequencing and counting. If she lost interest during the math activity, I just sang the Ladybugs’ Picnic song and she regained her focus immediately.
Ladybug Symmetry and Counting Activities
Google “ladybug math” and prepare to find tons of activities. I chose the symmetry and leaf counting ideas from http://prekandksharing.blogspot.com/2013/07/montessori-inspired-ladybug-activities.html. I found the black stones for the symmetry activity and painted wooden ladybugs for the counting activity at A.C. Moore craft store (you can check Etsy and Amazon for similar items). Note that putting wooden ladybugs in a bowl as shown in the picture below didn’t work out. I had to hand Beth individual wooden ladybugs during the counting process (otherwise she just threw a bunch on the leaves and counted fast to a favorite number, which is usually 5 or 10).
Bee Counting Activity
At this point, I decided to that we should study bees with our ladybugs. Beth sometimes confuses where they live (hive), what they eat (flowers), and what they make (honey). Also, it is important to vary activities as much as possible, because Beth tends to get stuck on doing things one way. So, I printed some hives off of Google Image (type in “bee hive printable” in Google Images) and bought some wooden bees at a local A.C. Moore craft store (you can check Etsy and Amazon for similar bees), and we did bee counting.
An Introduction to Bees with Videos and a Collage
I backed up a bit after the bee counting and gave her a bee overview, starting with videos of bees. There are many videos about bees on Youtube. For example, this is a wonderful video showing bees making a hive:
Next I printed off several bee-related images from Google Images and we cut/paste a collage as an overall introduction to bees.
Side-by-Side Ladybug and Bee Drawings
The Oak Meadow program showed me the value of drawing with Beth. We did simple ladybug and bee drawings together, where I drew on the right-hand side of a spiral sketch book and she drew on the left-hand side. Despite Beth’s attention and fine motor challenges, she was able to pay attention to this task because she is attracted to the movement of my hand as I draw. We first practiced on a roll of paper on our work table, and you can see the practice drawings in our ladybug sequence picture above (http://www.amazon.com/ALEX%C2%AE-Toys-Artist-Studio-Dispenser/dp/B000GL1CVY/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1377436412&sr=8-3&keywords=alex+paper+roll). I used no hand-over-hand, just demonstration, simple instructions, and pointing (draw a big circle, draw little circles inside, color in circles, draw a head, draw legs, draw wings like this (I demonstrate, then point on her drawing), draw an oval, etc). The results are astonishing. And it makes me think, why do we skip the step of drawing before writing with many special needs kids? Kids normally draw before writing, so in my mind it makes sense to do guided drawing before writing. Therefore, we will be doing mostly drawing, and some beginning letter writing, as we start this Kindergarten year.
Ladybug and Bee River Rock Painting
Beth is obsessed with walking on river rocks lately. It may be the sound the rocks make as she walks on them and they move against each other. It may also be an emotional connection to a past experience with river rocks, although I am unable to figure out the connection. Whatever the reason, they are a passion of hers and I decided that a popular kids craft, river rock painting, would be a nice addition to our ladybugs and bees lesson.
To paint river rocks, I used river rocks form a craft store (I didn’t have ready access to some when I needed them), acrylic paint, and a clear acrylic sealer. Note that the craft store rocks seemed shined and we had problems with pealing after we were done. Therefore I suggest using natural clean, dry, and rough river rocks, or you will need to do a surface priming on the craft store river rocks.
The trick was to help Beth slow down and create the likeness of the ladybugs and bees, since her tendency is to paint the entire surface. I used a few masking techniques (with my hand or painter’s tape) and for the spots and wings a trimmed sponge brush and sponge worked best. We practiced dabbing spots, making stripes, and sponging wings on paper before we dabbed on the rocks, and during the paper practice I taught her the language (dab, go down, one time, make spots, etc.).
Adventures with Ladybug Land
There were plenty of bees on flowers that I could show Beth this summer, but I tried in vain to find ladybugs. My solution was Ladybug Land. I dumped the larvae into their new home when they arrived. As soon as I walked away, Beth had disassembled Ladybug Land and was washing it out in the sink. Most of them drowned, but I was able to rescue 4 from the bathroom floor and they made it from larvae, to yellow bugs, to mature red ladybugs. She was mildly amused as I let them crawl on her. We will try it again next Spring, in addition to painting non-peeling river rocks for our garden!
Big Bugs at Morris Arboretum
As luck would have it, our local arboretum was having a giant bug sculpture display throughout their gardens. One of the bugs was a ladybug, and the other sculptures were a great way to teach Beth about the overall bug category. The bug exhibit made me realize the value of incorporating the temporary exhibits at local gardens and museums into our lessons. She learns best by total immersion in a topic, and by syncing the exhibit content with our lessons it would prepare her for coping and understanding her environment better during the outing.
Other Ladybug and Bee Activities
Throughout the 1.5 weeks we studied ladybugs and bees (and other bugs), I wove in other books and activities, such as these.
Honey Bee Tree Game:
Bug Magnet Scene and Puzzle: