Raising Ladybugs from Larvae

Today Hazel brought her ladybugs to school to share with her friends. We raised them from larvae and she was so excited to share them. The teachers were excited too since they just started a unit on bugs. Talk about perfect timing. I thought I would share them with you as well.

Last year Hazel and I raised butterflies. I thought it would be neat for her to see the cycle of life of a butterfly. I asked Hazel this year if she wanted to do butterflies again or try ladybugs. She decided on ladybugs, so we bought the ladybug house from Lakeshore Learning with our 20% off coupon and sent away for the larvae. Now ladybugs are even easier than the butterflies. The only important thing to do is to keep the sponge in the home moist. Besides that you sit back and watch. Hazel loves using the dropper to keep the moisture up, however as the larvae and ladybugs rose to the top, I took over the job to make sure we didn't have any escape.

After adding the moisture, we poured the tube into the cage and checked out the larvae. The tube had this white paper in it, and we just kept it in with the ladybugs since the larvae were climbing all over it. The small brown powdering stuff is their food. The tube arrived on March 27th.

We sat back and watched as they grew. The little spots of things became much bigger. These pictures are from April 14th. The larvae molt at least three times before going into the pupa stage.

We kept watching for the pupa stage. It was hard to see since they did not change much and really just stuck to the sides of the home. I also did not get any clear pictures because they were stuck to the sides of the plastic home. The clearest pictures of the larvae and ladybugs came from the magnifying glass on top and the sides cannot be seen well with it. Sorry!

Then this past weekend, we discovered we had ladybugs!! Of course we have also been reading books about ladybugs while watching them. We learned a few things like ladybugs have yellow blood. Some ladybugs have spots and some do not. They come in different colors. Red is the common color we all think of but they can be orange, yellow and even pink. 

Different Species Source
The resource books we have read are pictured below. They are Ladybugs by Ann Heinrichs, Ladybug by Emery Bernhard, Grub to Ladybug by Melvin and Gilda Berger, and Lucky Ladybugs by Mary Elizabeth Salzmann. The information about ladybugs mentioned in this post I read and learned from one of these books.

All of these books include a ladybug's life cycle. There are also many free resources on line to teach the life cycle. One I sent to Hazel's teacher is on Montessori Printshop. Everything Ladybug! has a good one as well.
HarAxy ontwikkeling
Ladybug Life Cycle Source: By Pudding4brains (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The life cycle is of course the ladybugs mate and the female lays yellow eggs on a leaf. The eggs hatch and larva comes out of each egg. The larvae change and molt at least three times. Then they go into pupa stage growing a hard shell on the outside. In a few weeks the adult ladybug breaks through the hard shell. 

Ladybugs also have a few defenses to deter predators. One is their taste. They also can release a bad smelling and tasting chemical. They also can play dead so the predator will leave them alone. 

Ladybugs are also called ladybirds or lady beetles in Europe. And although they have lady in their name there are male ladybugs and female ladybugs. Since ladybugs eat aphids (bugs that harm crops and orchards), many people consider the ladybug lucky and have throughout history. They have been used and are still used by farmers to save their crops. Many farmers found using chemical pesticides also killed ladybugs (and other helpful insects and some birds) and this did more harm than good, so they now order ladybugs to come eat the pests to their crops. In fact when orange groves in California were dying due to scale insects that showed up after the ladybugs had been killed by the insecticides, millions of ladybugs were sent from Australia to eat the scale insects and saved the oranges and trees. In the Middle Ages people were so thankful for ladybugs as well as the Virgin Mary, they were called Beetles of Our Blessed Lady. Once they were believed to have magical powers including finding a single girl a boyfriend. In early America it was considered good luck to find a ladybug in a house in the winter. Ladybugs or rather ladybirds even made it into Mother Goose Rhymes. 
Ladybird, ladybird fly away home. Your house is on fire and your children are gone.
 This was a rhyme farmers used when they burnt  the vines after the harvest. They wanted to send the beetles away from the fire so they could return the next year. It was first published around 1760.

Ladybugs are also popular characters in picture books. Some we have found and read or hope to read are:

  • The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle (June's author for Virtual Book Club for Kids)
  • Ladybug on the Move by Richard Fowler
  • Ladybug Girl by David Soman and Jacky Davis (There is a whole series)
  • What the Ladybug Heard by Julia Donaldson
  • Yoo-Hoo, Lady Bug! by Mem Fox (May's author for Virtual Book Club for Kids) (a fun search for the ladybug on each page)
  • Ladybug at Orchard Avenue by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld
  • Lara Ladybug by Christine Florie
  • The Very Lazy Ladybug by Isabel Finn and Jack Tickle
So that is what we have been exploring with bugs this year. Hazel has informed me that next year she wants to go back to the butterflies and then alternate each year. She loves "hatching" bugs as she calls it.

More posts and crafts on ladybugs and bugs:

Poetry, Trees and Bees

April is National Poetry Month and last Friday, April 18th was Arbor Day. We have been doing things for both of these and today I thought I would share them. A few weeks ago Hazel got her first (and second) bee sting. I went to the library looking for books on bees. The children's librarian suggested some poetry including Unbeelievables by Douglas Florian.

This book has various poems about bees and then gives details about the information shared in the poem. It is a wonderful way for children to learn more about the positive sides of bees. We learned that male bees do not sting, only females do. The male bees or drones main purpose in life is to fertilize the queen bee's eggs. 

While in the poetry section I found a few more poetry books to check out. We really enjoyed reading Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow by Joyce Sidman. There would be two poems with the question of "Who am I?" or something similar at the end and then the next pages would give details about the animals or things that were described in the poems. Hazel asked to get this one out again.
We also got a few others out that we have not read yet. They are Fold Me a Poem by Kristine O'Connell George (I wanted to try the origami with Hazel), Insectlopedia: Poems and Paintings by Douglas Florian and Seeds, Bees, Butterflies and More! Poems for Two Voices by Carole Gerber (the librarian recommended this one).

Last Thursday the craft at the library was in honor of Arbor Day on Friday. I did not take Hazel with me since she was spending the day with Nonni, but I saw what they did and knew we could do it at home. Hazel also happened to ask last week to learn more about trees, so I was actually going to the library to look for books on trees. The craft was to cut a toilet paper roll in half and glue it down as your trunk. Then use green tissue paper for the leaves and they had sequins for flowers or apples or whatever. I used buttons. I gave Hazel lots of supplies to choose from and she came up with her own version. I did mine after her, so she would not get any ideas from me.

I found some stories about trees which we have been enjoying. 

Picture a Tree by Barbara Reid, we actually did artwork with this book last summer. Mighty Tree by Dick Gackenbach is a story about four tree seeds and what happens to each tree. One tree remains and keeps spreading its seeds. One thing I did not like is the seeds looked like maple seeds and the tree looked like a pine. The Family Tree by David McPhail is a wonderful tale about a boy who saves the tree, that his ancestors left when they built their farm, from being taken down for the road. Someday a Tree by Eve Bunting is about a tree that a family loves and they discover one day that it has been poisoned. The community comes together to help them try to save the tree, but it is too late. The girl however plants some of the acorns she collected from the tree near the dying tree so someday there will be another great oak.

We also took some books out to learn about trees. We have not read them yet, but the two above I think will be best. They are Be a Friend to Trees by Patricia Lauber and Tell Me, Tree All about Trees for Kids by Gail Gibbons.

So that is what we have been up to. Have you read any good children's poetry this month or learned about trees?

Sharing Saturday 14-17

Sharing Saturday Button

Thank you to everyone who shared the amazing ideas last week and to everyone who took time to visit and share the love! I know I was blown away once again by the brilliant ideas. I also went through and pinned all the Easter and Earth Day posts so I can check them out next year! We did not have a most clicked, so I picked nine of my favorites (which was hard to do). This week seems like it was full of holidays. Sunday was Easter, Monday in Massachusetts was Patriots' Day (otherwise known as Boston Marathon Day), Tuesday was Earth Day and today is Arbor Day. In honor of these as well as the upcoming Cinco de Mayo and April being poetry month as well as the start of the official baseball season, I made some of these choices. I hope you like them and I hope you go back and check out all the great ones I am not sharing since I can't share them all.

1) From Living Montessori Now: Montessori-Inspired Activities for Casey at the Bat (Baseball and poetry in one)

2) From Art Club Blog: Talking Trees (Arbor Day plus Hazel and I have been exploring trees this week)

3) From Gift of Curiosity: What Do Ants Like To Eat? (A continuation from last week's most clicked feature)

4) From Teaching Every Day: Paper Towel Art
5) From Little Wonders' Days: Dolphin Lesson Plan Ideas

6) From Being Tilly's Mummy: Catching Fairies in a Glass Jar

7) From Planet Smarty Pants: Read and Learn About Mexico (Perfect ideas for Cinco de Mayo)

8) From Rubberboots and Elf Shoes: Birds and Nests Sensory Bin (Ok, we have also been exploring birds lately!)

9) From Every Star Is Different: Bird Unit 2 with Free Printables (It includes a poem too--so birds and poetry)

Thank you to everyone who shared last week!! I hope you will join us and share again!! If you are featured here, please feel free to grab a featured button to display proudly on your blog. 


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From Your Hostess:
This week we shared our exploration of Portugal with Around the World in 12 Dishes, our Earth Day activities, and some letter fun brainteasers and jokes. Plus I am sharing a picture of Hazel today after she got 9 inches of hair cut off and donated the hair!! I am so proud of her. She is still getting use to the shorter hair and is missing her long hair.

Now for This Week's Party  
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Letter Fun Brainteasters

Hazel: "Mom, I have a brownie for you." 

Me: "You do, oh, good."

Hazel: "Here it is."

So our children's librarian did this joke to Hazel and me. Since Hazel was the one interested in the brownie, she went over to get it and she got a construction paper letter E. Of course then there was no stopping her. She wanted to do the joke to everyone (and to me about 100 times). She brought the brown E with her to school and did it to everyone she saw. She took it to church...well you get the picture. Luckily she thought the joke was really funny and was not upset about not getting an actual brownie.

Hazel's Sparkly H
We were at the library for the Thursday craft. The craft that week was to make the first letter of your name with some meaning. The example they gave was a C out of clouds or an H out of hearts (which one of the librarians made). Hazel wanted to make a sparkly H, so she did. Then she decorated the sheet and added her name. Next she wanted to make an A out of hearts.

Hazel's Heart A

Since I was just sitting there, I decided to make one. I made a colorful C first.

Then the children's librarians and I were talking about all the different things you could do, and I came up with this one. Can you figure it out?

We kept joking and talking and next I came up with:
Then I drilled the librarians. One was very good at getting them all.

One librarian is named Paige and we talked about making her a P made out of book pages or at least paper cut to look like pages. I don't know if they ever did though. This was all part of their Brain Building Week. They had some math activities and engineering activities on other days. Plus they gave the kids stickers and/or hats.
For some more letter fun we found Kathy Ross Crafts: Letter Shapes book. I haven't shown it to Hazel yet, but am guessing we may be trying to make some.

You can also check out some of the puzzles over at Math Is Fun like The Letter H Puzzle.

Now for our answers: I see and the letter L. Do you have any good letter puzzles or ideas to make these letters?

Earth Day 2014

Congratulations to Sara G. for winning the Dearfoams Slippers!

Today is International Earth Day. It is the day we try to remember to be good to Earth and take care of our planet. We do not do anything too special to celebrate the day, however we do try to be green. This year we are meeting friends for an Earth Day celebration where the kids make crafts and things. That is tomorrow however. Hazel has been asking to learn more about being green. I added a book to her wishlist and my parents bought it for her for Easter. It is What Does It Mean To Be Green? by Rana DiOrio.

We enjoyed reading it and seeing some of the things like giving clothes you have outgrown to others (Hazel hates when I do this), composting, feeding the birds, recycling, growing your own garden or buying local produce, etc.

On this note Hazel also helped my father clean out his compost bin (well it was my grandfather's) that he did not want anymore, so we could bring it home. Steve set it up for us yesterday and also helped get my garden ready for us to do some planting. We planted some seeds to get them started indoors. We used our recycled food containers. Our strawberry containers were the best since they were big and had holes already.

We also filled our bird feeders and have been blessed by many birds coming to get fed.

We also leave some wool and yarn scraps out in a suet feeder for the birds nest building supplies.

Those are the main ways we are being green besides of course recycling as much as we can. Oh, and yesterday it was finally warm enough to hang out a load of laundry. I love using my clothesline! What do you do for Earth Day?

Around the World in 12 Dishes: Portugal

This month we are exploring Portugal for Around the World in 12 Dishes. I wrote an introduction to Portugal there, so I am going to get into how we explored the country. As always we took some books out of the library. Our favorites for Hazel getting understanding are:
  • Portugal by Kari Schuetz - an easy to understand overview of the country and culture

  • A New Life in an Old Village by Hélène Tremblay - one family's story about life in a Portugal village

  • The Little Horse of Seven Colors and Other Portuguese Folk Tales Retold by Patricia Tracy Lowe - folk tales with a few illustrations

I also spoke to a friend who is Portuguese American. She suggested making caldo verde and Portuguese sweet bread. Of course her memories of her grandmother making them did not include an actual recipe--more of take this and that and a little of this, so I looked for some recipes. For the caldo verde (green soup) we found a recipe in Jean Anderson's The Food of Portugal. Now I knew this was taking a chance since both Steve and Hazel do not like kale. There is discussion on line whether the greens should be kale or collard greens. Since I like kale better and have had the soup in a restaurant in an area with large Portuguese American population and it said kale and potato soup, I went for kale. Sometimes Steve will eat it in things, so I figured why not. I dragged a sick Hazel out to the store and of course everyone was shopping for Easter that morning. Ugh! So much for a quick trip. An employee in the meat department helped me pick out sausage since I don't like it usually. Hazel thought it was too bland, but did not tell me this until a few days later. She just didn't eat it. I thought it could use more salt (and I do not usually cook with salt at all and never add it) and did not like the sausage and Steve just didn't like it.

Green Soup or Caldo Verde
1 large yellow onion
1 large garlic clove
4 tablespoons olive oil
6 large Eastern potatoes
2 quarts cold water
6 ounces chourico, chorizo, pepperoni
2 1/2 teaspoons salt (do not cut this down!! I did and it was a mistake)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 pound collards or kale

Finely chop the onion, garlic, potatoes and  kale. Thinly slice the sausage. Saute the onion in the garlic in 3 tablespoons of oil in a large heavy saucepan for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the potatoes and saute stirring constantly for 2 to 3 minutes until they begin to color. Add water and cover the pot. Boil gently over medium heat for 20 to 25 minutes until the potatoes are mushy.

Meanwhile fry the sausage in a heavy skillet over low heat for 10 to 12 minutes until most of the fat is out. Drain well and reserve.

When the potatoes are mushy, remove pan from heat and with a potato masher, mash potatoes in pan with soup mixture. Add the sausage, salt and pepper and return to heat. Cover and simmer 5 minutes. Add the greens and simmer uncovered 5 minutes until greens are tender and the color of jade. Mix in remaining tablespoon of oil and taste the soup to see if it needs more salt or pepper (I did not do this and it was a mistake).

For the Portuguese Sweet Bread, I decided to try a recipe on-line instead of the one in the book. I found many recipes on-line and many of them were the same and had lard--since I didn't have lard, I looked for a recipe without it and found this one on Cooking with Elise: Massa Sovada Traditional Portuguese Sweet Bread. I cut the recipe in half and we tried to make it with Easter eggs instead of brown eggs. I definitely did not add enough flour for the recipe. As a result our eggs slid out of the bread and we had issues.

Massa Sovada or Portuguese Sweet Bread (adapted from Cooking With Elise)
5 cups of flour
1 1/2 tablespoons of active dry yeast and 1/2 teaspoon sugar
5 large eggs at room temperature (take out at least 2 hours ahead)
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon canola oil
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 teaspoon salt (just a pinch if you use salted butter)
1 1/8 cup sugar
zest of half lemon (I used more an it was very lemony)
egg wash (one egg and a splash of milk)
3 Easter eggs or brown eggs

In bowl dissolve your yeast in 1/2 cup of water with the 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. Allow your yeast to proof.

Beat the eggs until they are light and fluffy. Add your yeast mixture and just enough flour to make a batter (1 cup at most). Cover with a dish cloth until bubbles form (we added too much flour and did not really get bubbles). Meanwhile melt the butter over low heat. Add the canola oil. When all the butter is melted add the milk, salt and lemon zest.

When batter has formed bubbles add the sugar and butter mixture. Add the remaining flour one cup at a time mixing well each time. This is a sticky dough. When it becomes difficult to stir (if you are not using a mixer) add the remaining flour by kneading it in until the dough is smooth and not too sticky. (Since we used our mixer, we let the mixer do the kneading and our dough was too sticky. I should have added more flour.)

Cover your dough with waxed paper and a towel. Let rise until it doubles in size (about an hour).

Shape loaves of bread into the size you want and place them in buttered loaf pans. (Our dough was so sticky, it could not be shaped, so I put it into a buttered loaf pan). If baking with eggs add them now. Cover with buttered wax paper and a towel and let rise until it doubles in size (we did not have room for it to rise to double its size). Brush the loaf with the egg wash (we call this painting).

Bake for an hour at 275 degrees.

Now when I took ours out after an hour, it was obvious it needed to be baked more. I put it in and two of the eggs slid out. Since our dough was too liquidy it took some of the color off the eggs. I would use the brown eggs if I repeated this.

However Hazel and I loved the bread. Steve did not. I ran out of white flour and used some whole wheat, so I think it is a bit browner than usual as well.

We also found some music on the following CD's.

For those homeschooling, looking at Portugal is a great time to look at the Age of Discovery and look at the explorers. There are many from Portugal.

Also available are the Portugal Placemat and Passport Pages. And of course check out all the posts shared for new recipes and ideas of looking at Portugal. Around the World in 12 Dishes is hosted by 

Adventures In Mommydom, Afterschool for Smarty Pants, All Done Monkey, Crafty Moms Share, Maroc Mama, Glittering Muffins, Kid World Citizen, Mermaids' Makings, The Mommy Talks and The Usual Mayhem

Feel free to share any Portuguese recipe, craft or post you have as well. Next month we will be visiting Croatia.