Teaching about ladybugs and aphids is a great jumping off point for so many themes: good and bad critters in the garden, the food chain, organic pest management. Aphids are considered pests in the garden as they eat plants. Ladybugs, on the other hand, eat aphids, so they help our gardens grow. In fact, if you have aphids, you can usually purchase ladybugs from garden centers and let them out in your yard (releasing ladybugs in the garden is definitely a fun activity with kids! If you release them in April you should be able to find larva and pupae before the end of the school year). You may want to also read the book the Grouchy Ladybug, by Eric Carle, or sing a song about ladybugs to help reinforce these concepts.
But my student’s ABSOLUTE favorite ladybug activity was to play this Ladybug/Aphid game that I made up. It’s basically a revamped version of Red Light/Green Light. So here’s how the game works. I first made a sign for myself to hold with a popsicle stick handle. On one side of the sign I drew a plant, and outlined the shape of the sign in green. On the other side I drew a ladybug and outlined the shape of the sign in red. Tell students they are the aphids. They all need to stand in a line facing me, at least 20 feet away.When I yell out “Plant!” and show them the green plant side of the sign, they can move forward towards me to eat the plant. But when I flip the sign to show the ladybug and yell out “Ladybug!” the students must freeze so that the ladybug doesn’t eat them. Just like Red Light/Green Light, if anyone doesn’t freeze, they are sent back to the starting line. You may want to add some type of rule that students can only take large walking steps, or can only step heel to toe, if you want to prevent running (and falling). If you choose to do this, enforce it by sending students who break the rule back to the starting line.
Have fun–this was my student’s most requested game at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens!