July 1, 2008


We know there are LADYBUGS here in Alaska but they are one of those insects that we seldom see. Beloved, especially by children, this attractive, docile, and easy to catch little creature has always been a welcome addition to our yard.

In order to really enjoy observing and experiencing ladybugs we have to buy a box of them from the greenhouse and/or make our own! Last Summer while using utensils to cut and make designs in our Sculpy dough, a fun way to make ladybugs-or any beetle- revealed itself.

What you will need:
Sculpy dough
various sized spoons
leaves with nice hard veins
Acrylic paint

1. Warm up a nice ball of Sculpy and use thumbs to push and mold Sculpy into bowl of spoon.
You don't want a lot to rise above to "rim" or spill over the sides so you may have to experiment with how much to use.

2. Carefully lift an edge of the Sculpy so that you can then pull the rest from the spoon. This is the ladybug's body.

3. Smooth out any rough edges.

4. Take a small ball of Sculpy for the head and press onto one end of the body. (Our heads tend to be bigger than a real ladybug's but we like the character it gives them!)

5. Using the toothpick, score a line from head to rump to delineate the wings.

6. Now it's time to go find some richly textured leaves. Ones with thick hard veins work very well.

7. Roll out some Sculpy with a rolling pin-about 1/4 of an inch thi

8. Press the underside of the leaf into the Sculpy and gently roll the pin over it a couple times.

9. Peel the leaf off of the Sculpy.

10. Using the toothpick, "cut" out the leaf shape.

11. Place ladybugs and leaves onto baking sheet and cook in the oven per instructions on the Sculpy box. *You can bend and curve the leaf to give it some definition or just leave it flat.

12. Once baked and cooled, paint your ladybugs and leaves with acrylic paint!

Have fun! Lo and her Friends have incorporated these cute little guys into their play for the past year. They are great sturdy additions to any dollhouse, gnome fort, or other imaginative play. They are also a wonderful companion to carry tucked away in a pocket!

Here's our finished results. Lo decided to make a very colorful ladybug and I also made a longer shimmery colored beetle. Lo included her bee and a multicolored ladybug!

It was when Lo discovered her first ladybug at the age of 2 that it really hit home how fortunate we both were that I was able to be a stay-at-home mom. We were at the park when one flew onto her arm. Usually sensitive to creepy crawly types, Lo was instantly enamored, allowing it to crawl all around her arm and hand. She punctuated her many questions about it with "awwww!"s and "so cute!"s. It was also the day she first discovered her shadow! I was so grateful to have witnessed this.
I felt sick at the idea that had she been in day care I never would have been apart of this. I've always wondered(and I am excluding those parents who are suddenly single or experience extenuating circumstances -there are many variables involved, of course, but I will clarify further by directing my negative feelings toward those parents who don't need daycare but who celebrate the institution of daycare anyway. Parents who think that being home with their children is weak, boring, less important than their jobs and the parents who don't take the time to think for themselves, research and plan ,to the best of their ability, the best course of action for their children before committing to have them)
"How could someone pay another person to get the honor and pleasure of experiencing these things -and many of the other great milestones and discoveries?!?! I was once one of those paid people. Those mommies and daddies have no idea what they missed...
But I've digressed...
I can't decide whether to hatch our own ladybugs with a kit to learn about their lifecycle or buy a box to set free. I'll look into it and see. For now, our Painted Lady butterfly caterpillars arrived yesterday and we are looking forward to witnessing their metamorphosis again this summer.
Did you know?
*If a Ladybug is held in the hand while making a wish, the direction that it flies away to shows where your luck will come from. ;)

*Ladybugs chew from side to side and not up and down like people do.

*Ladybugs make a chemical that smells and tastes terrible so that birds and other predators won't eat them.

*In some Asian cultures, it is believed that the Ladybug understands human language, and has been blessed by God, Himself.

*If you squeeze a ladybug it will bite you, but the bite won't hurt.

*According to a Norse legend, the Ladybug came to earth riding on a bolt of lightning.

*During hibernation, ladybugs feed on their stored fat.

*In the 1800's, some doctors used Ladybugs to treat measles! They also believed that if you mashed ladybugs (ewww!) and put them into a cavity, the insects would stop a toothache!

*One might think a ladybug's coloring would make it an easy target for predators. Actually, it serves as a beacon to let a predator know that the ladybug tastes terrible!


Eluciq said...

we love sculpey...and have made a number of bowls...but those ladybugs and leaves are FANTASTIC!!!! what a great project to connect to a beautiful bug...and you are right it is rare to see them, but we know they are here in Alaksa.

...oh and i agree...how lovely it is to have had the opportunity to be with our little ones in those formative years...

Eluciq said...

sorry hit return before re-reading...ugh...i have my husband looking over my shoulder waiting for me to help him pack boxes...ha :)


happy bugging!

Anet said...

So very cute! We haven't had to many ladybugs this year. hmmm...
not sure why. I remember a few years when they were so bad I was a little freaked out by them! And that's when I found out that they stink!
I love that you made your ladybugs some leaves to go with them:)

ladybug-zen said...

ladybugs! my favorite.

i agree with you on the day care issue. i've never been able to do it. so many people have said to me, "it's no big deal. everyone does it. and your kids will get used to it." i just never got it. or maybe they didn't get it.

Dawn said...

I couldn't agree with you more about the day care thing. The ladybug project looks like so much fun...my kids would love it! I was just thinking that I need to go and buy a bag of ladybugs for our roses...we've got aphids.

Lisa Anne said...

They DO really stink! Cute ladybugs.
I was a single working mom when I had to send my daughter to daycare (Montessori). It was so hard, but I do not feel I missed out on all the special moments, I do know that I did everything to change that vicious work/daycare routine, I was mostly working to pay someone else to take care of my daughter! That is how I ended up working on an organic farm, after I had enough. On the farm we could be there to together, she could play while I was in the field working.

Later while working in a Waldorf Kindergarten for five years, I never understood why stay at home moms would choose to send their children to nursery/kindergarten, often choosing the all day program!(?) Why would they deliberately choose to do that? Having been forced to send my daughter to daycare, with no choice at the time, I would cry after I dropped my daughter off at 'school'.

Gypsy said...

I've never heard of Scuplty - what is it, like Fimo perhaps? They are beautiful crafts and how gorgeous.

I'm with you on the daycare thing - not a day goes by I'm not grateful I'm home with my little one.

Design Diva said...

Oh what a great little craft. We have tons of sculpy here. I think this will be tomorrow's art project for our nature table.
love your blog, Tracie

Lizz said...

Yes daycare on of many institutions in our culture...

On a spooky note- Old houses full of ladybugs are said to be haunted.


anthromama said...

Hmm...I know two little kids who would love this project :)

denise said...

Fun! We have painted rocks to look like our favorite insects, but not clay/sculpey. Good idea!

We love ladybugs...they eat the bad bugs in our garden too. Often in late summer we get swarms of them, and they get stuck all over the screens and get in the house to kamakazi themselves onto lightbulbs. Odd.

I agree on the daycare thing...I love my freespirited boys who think the world is a wonderful joyous place and that people are good. Want to keep it that way. :)

julie said...

I love the ladybugs. Every winter we have many that hibernate in the house and in the spring they are everywhere. It is so much fun to watch them wake up - we know it is spring when the ladybugs are crawling on the windows. I am still not sure how they get in the house - but they must leave the same way because they always just disappear.

Karyn said...

Is your daughter's "first" experience of something only valid if you have witnessed it? Are not her "first" experiences part of her own history, her own store of information that will make her life whole?

Why is it about you?

RunninL8 said...

Gee, I hit a nerve? Ma’am, you state the obvious:
“Are not her "first" experiences part of her own history, her own store of information that will make her life whole?”

And this:
” Is your daughter's "first" experience of something only valid if you have witnessed it?” is just plain SILLY!
No, Karyn, of course it’s not all about me, it’s all about my kids. We sacrifice in more ways than one to give our children what we feel is the best start in life. But what parent WOULDN’T want to experience these things with their child?!!! They are the most profound and amazing times. They remind me of what is really important in this life. They remind me to look again at the world through a child’s eyes-to celebrate and find the fascination in the minutia. I’m a much better person for it. Is that a bad thing?
What hubris.
*disclaimer-my negative feelings toward daycare do not extend to those parents who simply have no other choice due to their circumstances. Perhaps I should have clarified that my disdain is directed at those who put their kids in daycare because their careers (ego)take precedence or they are too lazy to do some thorough research BEFORE they decide to have children.

Sharon said...

Great little project, very doable for little ones......seems like a long time ago that Zoe and I did things like that together. What a great time of life!

Sharon said...

Larry was just reading this quote to me today and I think it applies as much to preschool as it does to later years. From the book Alchemy by Franz:

"The assimilation of collective consciousness is in fact the function of school, and therefore the originality of individual consciousness generally fades and at 20 people are a sack of collective knowledge.......you have the greatest difficulty bringing them back to one unique conscious personal reaction."

Emilie said...

very cute ladybugs! what a great project!

I totally agree with you about the daycare topic as well. I'd much rather live off way less money and be the primary caregiver for my son than to work and have more stuff. When I think about all I would miss out on if my son was in daycare I almost start to cry!

Tammy said...

We did the Painted Lady caterpillars and had fabulous luck with them. It was a great experience.

We also bought the ladybug larvae and had awful luck with those. They are cannibals and took turns eating each other up. Then the last one to live died a day or two later. It was gross. lol. If you get these, let us know how it goes for you! :)

Library Supporter said...

This looks like a charming project; I'd like to do it with my preK students. I found you via the Crafty Crow (love that blog!)

I do want to share with you that your daycare comment is a bit...over-the-top. I can see from your blog that you're very committed to your family and lifestyle, but not everyone has the same options, income, education, environment, or opportunities. If a couple have children, somebody has to work to pay the bills. Most homemaking moms are married to working husbands who DO have to miss out on all those sweet moments--though for some reason, it's only the working moms who get scolded! Did all those mommies and daddies you mention really have the option of staying home all day with their little ones? Were there no single parents, nobody struggling to get out of debt, pay college loans, earn enough for the down payment on a house, pay off medical bills, get back on their feet after an illness or a divorce, or simply trying to hold a job so that they could have medical insurance? Was there nobody who chose daycare for their children because they loved their careers, and had a great deal to offer to the world? I'm grateful every day that our family doctor and quite a few of my daughters' teachers chose to work outside the home. I think the world would be a poorer place if every talented woman had to make a decision between doing a job she loves, and ever having children.

Instead of just saying that parents who put their children in daycare are somehow negligent or selfish, we should be working to see that daycare programs are well-run and excellent, that parents can have paid parental leaves, paid family sick days, and real vacations (not just 1 week and a few paid holidays!) Compared to European nations, the US is so backward. We need to make the world better and safer for the kids of working parents.

Okay, getting off the soapbox now...back to browsing your lovely blog.

RunninL8 said...

In my book the best village consists of mom or dad full time ( and YES! I TOTALLY agree with and respect the role that societies in other countries allow their fathers. We DO have a lot to learn from them!!! ) for the first 5 years, siblings, neighbors, play date friends, relatives, ancillary connections made in extracurricular activities, and family friends.