Make Ladybug Tightrope Racers Activity

3.5 based on 55 ratings
Updated on Nov 6, 2013

First grade scientists get a huge kick out of creepy critters, and those dainty red ladybugs are a special favorite. Here's a science game that explores the effect of air currents on a lightweight bug, and throws in a little measurement as well. In case we forgot to mention it, it's also worth an afternoon of good fun, too.

What You Need:

  • Black and red construction paper
  • Black or white “dot” stickers (available at office supply stores)
  • Plain red or black drinking straws (no bends)
  • 2 pieces of smooth string, at least 10 feet long
  • Black pipe cleaners
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick

What You Do:

  1. Start by cutting out two ladybug bodies in black (see our printable template), and two red ladybug bodies. Glue a red body onto each black piece, and then stick the dots on the wings to create a ladybug. Cut a pipe cleaner in half, and then, in turn, bend each piece in half and poke the ends up through the ladybug's head to make antennae.
  2. Now cut a 3” section of straw, and glue it onto the bottom of the ladybug with strong craft glue.
  3. While the ladybug racing rig is drying, take out the two pieces of string. Attach each one to a table leg or a chair. Use a yardstick to measure 20 5” intervals (a total of 100 inches), and mark them clearly with a sharpie pen. Once the ladybug is dry, run the string through the straw and attach the other end to a chair or table to make a nice firm tightrope ride.
  4. Time to play! For most first graders, the first impulse will be to grab the bug and push. But now's the time for your young scientist to practice a little physical science. Have him stand just behind the bug and blow, using air pressure to send it along the string. How far can the bug go in one breath? Two? Three?  Kids can measure exact inches—and practice counting by fives—as they try to be the first to move the ladybug 100 inches down the line.

Adults, don't be surprised if you decide to take a turn or two yourself!

Julie Williams, M.A. Education, taught middle and high school History and English for seventeen years. Since then, she has volunteered in elementary classrooms while raising her two sons and earning a master's in school administration. She has also been a leader in her local PTA.