Tag: Summer

How to make a paper plate ladybird (or ladybug) craft, with rotating elytra and hidden wings underneath! Fun biology / nature science project for kids.

Anatomy of a ladybird craft, with elytra and wings

Did you see the paper plate ladybird life cycle craft that I shared last week? (If not, you can check it out here). My daughter and I made it to celebrate the loveliness of ladybirds that appear in our backyard each spring and summer. (Loveliness is the collective noun for a group of ladybirds – isn’t that the coolest thing ever!!)

(In case you’re wondering, ladybird, ladybug and lady beetle are all the same animal – they are just called different things in different countries. Technically they are called coccinellids, but I’ve never heard anyone actually call them that. We call them ladybirds here in Australia…)

Anyway back to our story. Shortly afterwards, my daughter found another species of ladybird at a nearby park!! This one was orange and black, and had v shaped markings on it’s back (which, as we’ve since discovered, is a type of ladybird called a Transverse Ladybird). She brought it home to show me.

Orange and black Transverse Ladybird

Tiny transverse ladybird with orange and black markings

Transverse ladybird

And so, of course, this got us thinking about different types of ladybirds, the anatomy of ladybirds, what each species eats, where they live, etc.

Here’s a fantastic website that delves into basic ladybird anatomy. Did you know that a ladybird’s ‘shell’ is actually called the elytra, and underneath the elytra, there is a hidden set of wings?

We decided to make a ladybird craft, for three different species of ladybirds:

  • The orange and black Transverse Ladybird with v shaped markings is the type of ladybird my daughter Bumble Bee found in the park that morning.
  • The yellow and black Fungus-eating Ladybird has zigzag markings. These are the ladybirds we often find in our own backyard.
  • The red and black Seven-spot Ladybird (also known as the Seven-spotted Ladybug), has three spots on each side and one spot in the middle. This is the most common ladybird in Europe, and is the ladybird we most often see in children’s picture books.

Seven-spot ladybird craft for kids, with hidden wings!

Suitable for

This is a fun craft idea that uses common craft supplies and other everyday items.

Preschoolers will enjoy learning generally about ladybirds, and should be able to help paint the paper plates (with an adult assisting with the rest of the craft). Kindergarteners may be able to do more of the craft themselves, and learn about basic insect anatomy. Older kids may enjoy researching ladybirds in more detail, including variations between different ladybird species, their markings, their habitats, their diet, etc.

Bumble Bee had just turned 4 years old when we did this activity. She enjoyed painting the paper plates, and “helping” me with the rest of the craft. She also enjoyed learning about the various ladybirds that we’ve come across, and their basic anatomy. Plus she really enjoyed role-playing with her new ladybird toys afterwards!

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Make a paper plate ladybird and learn about beetle anatomy


How to make a paper plate ladybird

We used:

The first thing we did was to look at our real life samples of ladybirds (for the fungus-eating ladybird and the transverse ladybird), and online (for the seven-spot ladybird) to get an idea of their basic shape, colours and markings.

We noticed that each ladybird has a head with two antenna, a section just behind the head (the pronotum), a body with brightly coloured elytra, and three tiny legs on each side. We noticed that the elytra is symmetrical – with exactly the same markings appearing on each side. We also noticed that ladybirds have hidden wings, that are folded away under the elytra when a ladybird is not flying.

We used two paper plates for each ladybird craft. We painted the underside of the first paper plate black, and set aside to dry. This would become the ladybird body.

We cut the second paper plate like this below, to create a head, and the two sides of the elytra, or shell.

(If you were doing this with older kids, you might like to add more detail to the head area, adding in the eyes, the mouth and the pronotum.)ladybird cut lines

We referenced our real and online ladybirds to see what colours and patterns to paint. We painted the underside again (which creates a doming effect, making our ladybirds look slightly 3D).

While we waited for the paper plates to dry, we cut two long wings from a plastic bag – roughly twice the length of the ladybird’s body.

We also cut one regular black pipe cleaner into six small pieces, which would become the legs, and a second black “bump” pipe cleaner into two pieces, which would become the antenna.

(We used bumpy pipe cleaners because we had them already and they look cool! But you could use regular pipe cleaners for the antenna too if you want).

Once the paper plates were dry, we glued the head to the body. I poked two holes though, so we could add the antenna, twisting into little knots at each end to stop them slipping back out (and to make cute knobbly antenna ends!)

We stapled the six legs to the sides of the body as well. (Bumble Bee loves using the stapler, so she really enjoyed that part!)

Next we glued the plastic wings to just below the head. (You could use double sided sticky tape here instead if you prefer).

How to make a paper plate ladybug

Then we attached the two elytra pieces on top, attaching with a split pin. I used a knife with a sharp point to create the holes, before pushing the split pins through and fastening underneath. Here’s how it looks on the underside.

Paper plate ladybug craft

When we flipped it back over, we could now choose whether to fold the wings neatly underneath if we were pretending our ladybird was walking, or rotate the elytra slightly and release the wings if we were pretending our ladybird was flying.

Fungus-eating ladybird craft

Paper plate ladybug craft for kids

Paper plate ladybird (or ladybug) craft, including three different ladybird species. Fun nature science activity for kids

How to make a ladybird (ladybug) craft with hidden wings! And learn about three different ladybird species. Fun biology entomology nature scien

Fun Science Facts

Coccinellidae is a widespread family of tiny beetles, known as ladybugs in North America, and ladybirds in Australia, UK and other areas.

Entomologists prefer to use the term ladybird beetles or lady beetles, because technically they’re not actually classified a ‘true bugs’.

A “bug” is actually a technical term which describes insects that have sucking, beak-like mouth parts. Bugs also have an incomplete metamorphosis life cycle – meaning they go from egg to nymph to adult with no larva stage. Aphids, cicadas, bedbugs are all true bugs. Beetles are not.

Beetles are a group of insects whose front wings have hardened into wing-cases, elytra, distinguishing them from most other insects. They are the largest order of insects: roughly 400,000 species make up about 40% of all insect species described, and about 25% of all animals – wow! Most beetles undergo complete metamorphosis, passing through four main stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult.

More light reading: A Bug Is Not A Beetle (American Scholar)

Paper plate ladybird (ladybug) craft, with wings! And learn about three different species of ladybird.

If you’re looking for more fun activities like this, check out our Biology archives, including:

Paperplate lifecycle of the fungus-eating ladybird (ladybug)- fun nature study activity

You might also like to follow our Go Science Kids and Nature Study Activities for Kids boards on Pinterest.

And, of course, you can always subscribe to our newsletter, to receive all our latest activities straight in your Inbox. We’d love to have you join us!

How to make paper plate ladybirds (ladybugs) and learn about different ladybird or ladybug species. Fun insect entomology biology nature scienc

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Sensory play meets explorative science with this nature-based backyard science experiment.

What lives in dirt - outdoor explorative science for preschoolers

Science experiments don’t have to be complicated! Sometimes the simplest things can enthrall young kids. My 3.5 year old daughter Bumble Bee loved this backyard dirt observation activity so much that we’ve done it several times now, and it’s been interesting to notice how the results have varied each time.

My daughter’s interest in the scientific method has been recently kindled by the book 11 Science Experiments That Failed, and so we followed the scientific method for this backyard dirt experiment too, which of course, makes it feel extra science-y. 🙂

Playing in the dirt - a science experiment

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What lives in the dirt in our backyard?

Worms live in dirt.

What You Need:

Invitation to investigate what lives in dirt

What To Do:
1. Dig dirt with spade.
2. Put dirt on sheet.
3. Sort through dirt to see if there are any living creatures. Study them with magnifying glass.
4. Record (or ask an adult to record) findings.
5. Dig more dirt and repeat.
5. Tally results at end of the dirt play experiment. Compare with previous results.

What happened:
When soil was moist, many (dozens and dozens) of worms and one slater (aka woodlice, roly poly or pill bug) were found. When soil was dry, few worms were found, and no other insects.

Digging up and investigating dirt

What lives in dirt

Honestly, I can’t emphasis enough how much Bumble Bee loved this activity. “What lives in dirt?” might seem like an obvious question to us, but Bumble Bee loved being able to verify her hypothesis (that worms live in dirt) for herself. She did sometimes ask for help with the digging part (perhaps our spade was a little big for her), but she really loved sorting methodically through the dirt to see if there were any worms in that particular load. When our sheet was too full of dirt, we emptied the ‘old’ dirt back into the same patch of garden and started digging again.

What lives in dirt - explorative backyard science for preschoolers

Finding a worm

finding a worm

We found many, many worms. We talked about what sort of things worms would need in their habitat. We talked about how worms need food, water, and shelter (dirt and leaf litter) to protect them from the birds. We talked about how they wouldn’t be able to live outside of the dirt for long. We decided to rehome a few into our worm farm, and carrying worms back and forth from the garden to the worm farm became part of the play.

Investigating dirt

We also found one slater (which, depending on where you live in the world, are also called roly polys, pill bugs, woodlice or potato bugs). Bee wasn’t expecting to find anything other than worms, and so she was pleasantly surprised. (I, on the other hand, was surprised at the lack of insect diversity in our soil!) We duly recorded it, and then put it (all rolled up) into her specimen tray, along with a few of the smaller worms. Every time Bee turned around, one of her specimens escaped. One of the challenges of field science!

Slater or roly poly insect

Using a magnifying glass

We repeated this experiment again several weeks later, after a particularly dry spell, and that time we hardly found any worms at all. We hypothesised that this may be because the habitat in our backyard top soil no longer catered to what worms need, and that all the worms had moved to a wetter part of the soil that was better suited to their requirements.

Preschool science - what lives in dirt

This would make a great Earth Day science experiment. In fact, we actually did it just before Earth Day, and then used the same soil to make our Planet Earth craft, except I hadn’t a chance to write it up until now… (Sorry – been busy and all that!)

What lives in dirt - explorative backyard science experiment for preschoolers

For more nature-based science ideas, you might also like:

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So, you know how we have a little obsession with tasty science activities right? Well, I was super excited when Mr GSK came home with both regular and champagne watermelon varieties from the shops recently, because I knew it would be perfect for a little edible science experiment to explore how we perceive taste. (Hint: we use much more than just our tastebuds!)

Champagne and regular watermelon slices

Suitable for

This would be a great science activity for little people, from toddlers, preschoolers to kindergarteners. Bumble Bee was 3 and Jewel was 5.5 years old when when we did this.

Read More Exploring Taste with Watermelon