Grade: 1st Grade
Time Needed: 30- 45 minutes
1) Ask students what they know about ladybugs. Have them name some familiar body parts and characteristics they have.
2) Hand out materials listed below (Ladybug tightrope racers activity).
3) Demonstrate each step of making the construction paper ladybug and talk about every body part as you go. (See notes below)
There are eight parts to the ladybug anatomy, each with its own purpose. A ladybug is an insect, a beetle actually, and it has most of the same anatomical parts as every other insect, as well as a few parts that are distinctive to the ladybug. All ladybugs are less than ¼ inch long, oval or round shaped, and have six short legs.
Ladybugs usually have very bright colors, like red or orange, and often have some sort of pattern on them, likespots. These colors and patterns are thought to warn predators of the ladybug’s bad taste and poison. Sometimes, though, the ladybug will be a solid color with no pattern at all, and can be yellow, brown, or black. The eight body parts are the head, antenna, eyes, pronotum, thorax, elytra, wings, and legs.
Head: The ladybug’s head is round and thin and includes the ladybug’s mouth, eyes, and antennae.
Antenna: The antenna is what helps a ladybug smell, taste, and feel its way around. Ladybugs don’t see as well as they can smell and this is how they find the tiny bugs that they eat.
Eyes: A ladybug has two eyes but it doesn’t see very well. Ladybugs can only see the difference between dark and light, as if everything was a black and white photo, but they cannot see colors at all.
Wings: The wings are what helps the ladybug fly. Ladybugs don’t seem to have a very good sense of direction when they fly around, though. They seem almost clumsy. Perhaps this is because of the wings being stuck underneath the Elytra all the time. Every time the wings are used, they have to carefully fold them back up to hide underneath the Elytra.
Legs: The six short little legs of a ladybug help it to walk, but they do more than that. The feet of a ladybug helps it smell, and when a predator captures a ladybug, the bad tasting and poisonous gel will ooze out of the legs, sometimes saving the ladybug’s life. Wouldn’t you spit that out?
Thorax and Abdomen: (OPTIONAL) The thorax and the abdomen, is the body section that the legs and wings are attached to, and the part that holds the ladybugs digestive system, the reproductive organs, and the stinky, poisonous gel.
Pronotum: (OPTIONAL) The pronotum is the part right behind the ladybug’s flat head that sort of makes the head look round. The pronotum actually protects the ladybug’s head and helps to hide it. Sometimes the pronotum will have spots on it, too.
Elytra: (OPTIONAL) Ladybugs have a shell, or hard case, that protects their wings and also protects them from predators. The Elytra is also the part that shows the ladybug’s colors and patterns to predators to warn them off. The Elytra is exactly the same on the right side as it is on the left, they are a mirror image, or symmetrical, to one another.
Ladybug Tightrope Racers Activity
First grade scientists get a huge kick out of creepy critters, and those dainty red ladybugs are a special favorite. Here's a science game that explores the effect of air currents on a lightweight bug, and throws in a little measurement as well. In case we forgot to mention it, it's also worth an afternoon of good fun, too.
What You Need:
· Black and red construction paper (half sheets)
· Black or white “dot” stickers (or black marker)
· Plain drinking straws (no bends)
· 2 pieces of smooth string, at least 10 feet long
· Black pipe cleaners
· Glue stick (or tape)
· Googly eyes (or white out pens )
What to Do:
1. Start by cutting out two ladybug bodies in black (use the printable ), and two red ladybug bodies. Glue a red body onto each black piece, and then stick the dots on the wings to create a ladybug. Cut a pipe cleaner in half, and then, in turn, bend each piece in half and poke the ends up through the ladybug's head to make antennae (or tape them to the head).
2. Now cut a 3” section of straw, and glue it onto the bottom of the ladybug with strong craft glue (or tape).
3. While the ladybug racing rig is drying, take out the two pieces of string. Attach each one to a table leg or a chair. Use a yardstick to measure 20 5” intervals (a total of 100 inches), and mark them clearly with a sharpie pen. Once the ladybug is dry, run the string through the straw and attach the other end to a chair or table to make a nice firm tightrope ride.
4. Time to play! For most first graders, the first impulse will be to grab the bug and push. But now's the time for your young scientist to practice a little physical science. Have him stand just behind the bug and blow, using air pressure to send it along the string. How far can the bug go in one breath? Two? Three? Kids can measure exact inches—and practice counting by fives—as they try to be the first to move the ladybug 100 inches down the line.