Spring is the perfect time for children to learn about insect and animal life cycles. This past spring our boys learned about the life cycle of the frog, firefly, and butterfly at preschool.
They absolutely love the story, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. James loved the story so much that he asked his teacher if his class could perform a play of the story and make a video. His teacher thought it was a good idea. His class presented the play (which was videotaped) at the Mother's day banquet. James was proud to have the roll of the hungry caterpillar.
We frequently visit our local library and our boys checked out many books about life cycles. Learning about it at school and reading about it at home wasn't enough. One day, I went to an education store to purchase some literacy resources for my school. While we were there, my boys saw the live butterfly garden and the ladybug land kits. They begged me to purchase one, so we decided to choose the ladybug land.
Ladybug Land is a product from Insect Lore and their insect kits are used in many classrooms in the spring. The kit comes with a habitat for the ladybugs to live in until they become adults. It also comes with a voucher that covers the cost of purchasing the ladybug larvae; the only cost is shipping and handling. I also purchased the ladybug life cycle figurines. After ordering the larvae online, I was notified they would arrive in a few days. A day later, we were informed of a death in our family. Once the larvae arrived, we transported them into their ladybug habitat. Then, we packed them up and took them on our road trip to Mississippi for the funeral. Although we were in Mississippi for a somber occasion, our boys enjoyed sharing their knowledge about ladybugs with their grandfather.
Once we returned home, we decided to place the ladybug land on our dining room table. Every morning during breakfast and every evening during dinner, our boys had lively discussions about the progress the larvae were making. They made observations about the larvae and their progress. They were worried about one larva. "Mommy, that larva is going to die. There are two ladybugs out of the pupa and he hasn't even made a pupa yet." One ladybug was aggressive and blocking access to the food source. "That one is the leader. He is telling them when they can eat. Let's name him Strongy!" Eventually, all of the larvae had developed into adult ladybugs. The ladybug land guide recommended releasing the ladybugs in the morning and when it was at least 55 degrees outside. In good ole' Indiana, weather can be uncooperative and we had many rainy, cold days after all the larvae had become adults. The ladybugs kept flying around and one would constantly walk around the circumference of the lid. We have a thermometer in our sunroom. Our boys wanted to check it every morning to see if it was warm enough for us to release the ladybugs. They had two concerns. First, the ladybugs would die if they didn't get out into nature and second, the aphids would eat all of our cabbage and greens.
Finally this week, the weather warmed up and our boys were super excited to release the ladybugs in our garden. We had previously purchased ladybugs from The Garden Center and placed them in our garden as a natural way to deal with aphids, but our boys were more excited about releasing these ladybugs since they had watch them grow up over the last few weeks. James declared, "They are our garden guards and they are going to eat those aphids up!."
We checked on the ladybugs a few days later after the release and some were still in our garden. I'm glad our boys coaxed me into purchasing the ladybug land. They had a hands-on opportunity to learn more about life cycles and their learning experience benefited our garden.