Let's Hear It For Ladybugs!

y Leslie Bradbury, Rachel Wilson, and Amy Lunceford Science and Children, National Science Teachers Association
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Unit , Lesson/Lesson Plan
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be "fully aligned," the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.




This article describes a ladybug life cycle unit that incorporates language arts and science concepts. Students build on their prior knowledge of butterflies as they explore the metamorphosis of ladybugs. To create their final project, clay life cycle models, students synthesize what they learned from live observation and nonfiction texts.

Intended Audience

Educational Level
  • Grade 3
Access Restrictions

Available by subscription - The right to view and/or download material, often for a set period of time, by way of a financial agreement between rights holders and authorized users.

Performance Expectations

3-LS1-1 Develop models to describe that organisms have unique and diverse life cycles but all have in common birth, growth, reproduction, and death.

Clarification Statement: Changes organisms go through during their life form a pattern.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment of plant life cycles is limited to those of flowering plants. Assessment does not include details of human reproduction.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
The authors of this article used this activity after a butterfly life cycle activity. If the class does not complete the butterfly activity, the teacher can use another organism to compare the two life cycles. A second organism would need to be introduced for the student to complete the final letter writing project.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Students record their observations of the phases in the ladybug life cycle, examine information in nonfiction books about ladybugs, and then use the information to construct a physical model of the life cycle of a ladybug with clay. The illustrations and the pictures in the non-fictions books can serve as models for the students, as well.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
To include plants into the lesson, the teacher could discuss comparisons/contrasts between the ladybug life cycle and the stages of a plant life cycle (such as pea plants) that may be easily grown in the classroom for direct observation.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource was not designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
Through watching the life cycle, students will come to understand that their is a predictable order, or pattern, to the life cycle of the ladybug. Students should also explore and discuss other plants and animals with a predictable pattern to their life cycle and how they can use experiences with previous life cycles to predict their possible life stages.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: This unit combines making a simple ladybug habitat, observation of real ladybugs, and information from nonfiction texts and group discussions to make sense of the life cycle of the ladybug. The students are asked to journal and make predictions along the way, and then to represent what they have learned in a clay model of the ladybug life cycle.

  • Instructional Supports: This unit provides students with authentic observations to develop a model of a life cycle. The unit could be strengthened by including additional models of plant and animal life cycles for comparison/contrast. This unit does not include differentiated instruction for remediation or enrichment. English language learners and students at lower reading levels could be given a lower-leveled nonfiction book for their research. Advanced learners could be given a question that comes up in class discussions a special research project. For example, “Do ladybugs come in any color besides red?” or “Are all ladybugs girls?” The article also lists sources for all supplies needed for this project, as well as tips for keeping the ladybugs alive and well.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: The unit begins with a pre-assessment activity that requires students to place pictures of the butterfly life cycle in order and then predict the stages in the ladybug life cycle to assess prior knowledge. Teachers can monitor student progress during this unit through student journal illustrations of what they have observed, student descriptions of pictures that they take of the ladybugs, comparison/contrast discussions about the nonfiction text, and student predictions about the next portion of the ladybug life cycle. At the end of the unit, the students are asked to pretend to be a ladybug and write a letter to their friend, who is a butterfly, explaining how their life cycles were similar and different. A rubric to grade the letters is available online at www.nsta.org/sc1507. An idea for enrichment is to have students chose to be either butterflies or ladybugs, write to the other type of insect, send the letters in class, then create simple costumes, “meet” their counterparts, and give answers to any questions asked in the letters. This would add to the language arts component of the lesson, as well.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: The site is not interactive, but the authors have several sites that they recommend for both teacher background and student research listed at the end of the article.