Ladybugs make a cheerful theme for a summer classroom. Once you establish the theme, it’s easy to carry through, just by using red and black. You can make a bulletin board with red background paper and black paper spots and you’re set.

Once you’ve got your bulletin board decoratives up, just say you’re “Buggy for School” or books or math or second grade or whatever it might be.

Trend’s Lucky Ladybug cutouts are an excellent choice for Poke’n'Peek Centers.

Our friend Myra Grayson from Carson-Dellosa showed us how to make Poke’n'Peek centers. They’re great because you can use them for almost anything you’re studying. Say it’s addition. Punch holes down each side of the cutout. Write problems from one fact family next to each hole. So, for example, you might have “1+1=” next to the first hole, “1+2=” by the next, and so forth.

Turn the cutout over. Now, carefully matching up questions and answers, write the answer to each question by the hole that’s nearest to the question. In the example above, you’d put “2″ by the first hole, “3″ by the next. and so on.

Students use the centers by poking a pencil through the hole, answering the question aloud, and then turning the cutout over to check their answers.

We’ve used Carson-Dellosa’s  ladybug cutouts here, but any kind will do — the larger the open space, the more problems you can add. Note, too, that you can use anything with a clear answer and a fairly short question. If you’re studying presidents, put “First President?” with the answer “Washington,” and it works just as well.

Go outside for a ladybug hunt and some fresh air. Ladybugs don’t mind human contact and they don’t bite, so you may want to allow students to set their hands where the ladybugs can climb onto them. Picking up insects of any kind can lead to accidental squishing. For a more controlled situation, grow some ladybugs in your classroom.

Insect Lore is our go-to for bug supplies. Their Insect Lore Ladybug Land is designed to offer maximum comfort for the ladybugs and maximum observational opportunity for the class. You’ll get a certificate to mail in for the ladybugs, and it’ll take a little while for them to arrive. This means that you can reuse the ladybug habitat in future classes. It also means you can’t wait around very long before you order. Spend the wait time having the class learn about ladybugs so you’ll be ready to welcome your new class pets.

There are plenty of ladybug accessories to get the complete look for your classroom. Our favorites:

• The Folkmanis Ladybug Puppet. This ladybug has six legs, naturally, but you only have five fingers to put in them. We recommend stuffing that last leg with cotton so your ladybug will look her best.
• Carson-Dellosa’s Ladybugs Shape Stickers come 72 to the package, so you can use them for all kinds of counting activities, or just add them to everyone’s papers.
• The Grouchy Ladybug Game is nice for a center.

Ladybugs is a basic factual introduction.

The Gentleman Bug, by Julian Hector, is a new picture book that answers the age-old question, “What do you call a male ladybug?” Here are some ideas for using it in the classroom:

• The endpapers of the book are a map of The Garden, where the Gentleman Bug and his friends live. Use it to practice basic directions (“Turn right at Pollen Hill”) or prepositions (“Go over the bridge and around the palace.”). Show the book. Ask students to follow with their eyes as you give directions and say where they’d end up if they followed those directions.

• The Gentleman Bug is a dreamy fellow who reads all the time and in fact teaches a class of some sort on the village green. Some of the other insects make fun of him, but he isn’t bothered — until a Ladybug arrives. She doesn’t notice him, so he analyzes the situation and makes a plan. The illustration of this analysis shows the Gentleman Bug with his students in his cozy study filled with books and art, with his globe and telescope nearby. He has his research materials spread on the table, including models and drawings of his plan. Discuss with the students what sort of problem-solving approach the Gentleman Bug uses to deal with his problem, and what other sorts of apporaches he might have taken.
• The Gentleman Bug’s solution consists of dressing up and getting a cool new set of wheels for the occasion. Things don’t go as he had hoped. Much of the story at this point is told in pictures rather than words. Have students write out the events of the evening in a chronological sequence.
• The Gentleman Bug is sad, but tries to forget the Ladybug for several days. This is another good chance to consider the various problem-solving approaches available to him. Ask students how the Gentleman Bug might feel, and what he might have said (he never speaks in the book).
• In the end, he finds that the Ladybug is the new librarian and that she enjoys hanging out with him and reading. There is no explanation for the Ladybug’s initial indifference to the Gentleman Bug. Ask students to write and illustrate a page explaining this aspect of the story.

The Grouchy Ladybug is a classic ladybug story. There are plenty of online resources for this book:

• Enchanted Learning has a ladybug lifecycle reproducible. Insect Lore’s
• Ladybug Life Cycle Stages models add a hands-on element to any worksheet approach.
• The traditional rhyme for ladybugs goes, “Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home. Your house is on fire and your children are all gone.” A little gruesome, maybe, but you can always use it to introduce fire safety. The USFA has a good fire safety site for kids.
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