One of Jemima’s favourite books is What the Ladybird Heard by Julia Donaldson. For anyone unfamiliar with Julia Donaldson, she was the Children’s Laureate from 2011-13 and has written a host of children’s books, her most famous arguably being The Gruffalo. We discovered her books when Jemima was still a small baby and they were an instant hit, thanks to the wonderful rhyming text and imaginative storylines. Jemima particularly likes What the Ladybird Heard because of the different animal noises and the vibrant illustrations by Lydia Monks. On every page there is a small, sparkly ladybird, and Jemima enjoys finding and pointing to her while we are reading.
Inspired by the book, I created some ladybird-themed craft activities for Jemima.
1. Potato Printing Ladybirds
To prepare, I cut a potato in half then scooped out several small circular holes to create the distinctive spots on a ladybird. I used the pointy end of a potato peeler to do this.
I also cut out a ‘handle’ to make it easier to hold the potato.
I poured some red paint onto a paper plate and Jemima had lots of fun dipping the potato into the paint and printing ladybird shapes onto the paper.
We used black sugar paper so that the red paint would really stand out. Also, it would have been tricky for Jemima to separately paint in the black spots at her age (17 months), so this solved the problem! Jemima loved this activity and I would highly recommend it for any toddlers of a similar age.
2. Egg Carton Ladybirds
This activity requires parental help and takes a little longer to complete, as you have to wait for the paint to dry, but it is worth the effort to create your very own little ladybirds!
You will need:
An egg carton
Black pipe cleaners (for the ladybird’s antennae)
Black pom poms (for the ladybird’s head)
Black paint/marker pen/circular stickers (for the ladybird’s spots)
Cut the cups out of the egg cartons.
Paint each of the cups red and leave to dry. For a sparkly ladybird, you could add some red glitter or use red glitter paint.
Once the cups are dry, add black dots. You could use a marker pen, black circular stickers or black paint. Next stick or glue the goggly eyes onto the black pom pom.
Cut some black pipe cleaners into about 4 cm long strips and bend them into “L” shapes for the antennae. You will need two strips per ladybird.
Finally, glue two pipe cleaners and the pom pom onto the red body, and your ladybird is complete!
3. Ladybird Sensory Box
Next, we needed to create somewhere for our ladybirds to live!
For the base of the sensory box, I used white rice that I had dyed green to give the illusion of grass.
To dye the rice, I used the following method:
• Pour 500g uncooked rice into a plastic container which has a lid.
• Add green food colouring and 1 ½ – 2 tsp of white vinegar.
• I also added a few drops of lavender oil to eradicate the smell of vinegar.
• Pop the lid on and shake the container to evenly distribute the colour.
• Finally, tip the rice mixture onto a baking tray/into a roasting pan, and leave to dry for at least 24 hours. It actually took longer than this for my rice to dry, so I put it into the oven on a low heat for about an hour to speed things up.
• Once dry, the rice can be used and re-used. Just make sure you store it in an air-tight container.
Once the ‘grass’ was dry, I added the egg carton ladybirds, some pine cones, fir tree twigs and conkers to the box.
Next to the box I placed some containers, a mini muffin tray, a little plastic spade and a rake.
Jemima had lots of fun with this activity but it was rather messy, so I would definitely advise you to put down a large tablecloth/old sheet on the floor to catch the rice. Jemima spent most of her time picking up the rice and letting it trickle out of her hand into all the different containers.
4. Ladybird Music
The perfect accompaniment to our activities was Marienwürmchen (meaning ‘Ladybird’) by Brahms from Seven Children’s Songs:
This song is in German and was written in 1857. The lyrics of the song are similar to those of the old English nursery rhyme, Ladybird, Ladybird:
Ladybird, sit on my hand -
I will do you no harm.
No harm shall come to you;
I only wish to see your colourful wings:
your colourful wings are my joy.
Ladybird, fly away,
your house is burning, your children are crying
so much, so much.
The evil spider is spinning her web around them;
Ladybird, fly home,
your children are crying so.
Ladybird, fly to the neighbour's children,
They will do you no harm.
No harm will come to you:
they only wish to see your colourful wings,
and greet them both for me.
We hope you and your children have lots of fun creating some ladybirds of your own and you enjoy these activities as much as we have.