Explore early literacy skills with these printable ladybug letter puzzles! Even better, add them to a colorful ladybug sensory invitation.
Did you know that ladybugs secrete a gross-tasting fluid from their legs to discourage predators (although I want to know how anyone knows that it tastes bad)?
That’s just one of those fun facts that you’ll learn as you’re researching before teaching a ladybug theme. There are many more facts out there to astound the kids with! I have to admit, I found many of them pretty interesting, myself.
While poking around, I came across this wonderful video about how ladybugs fold their wings:
I love using children’s books, real photos and videos, and I’m excited to try “raising” real ladybugs for this theme. In addition to that, I also like using themed activities. Here’s a fun ladybug sensory setup that includes free printable ladybug letters (available at the bottom of this post).
Related: Cupcake Liner Ladybugs
How to Set Up a Ladybug Sensory Bin
There are so many ways you can make your own ladybug sensory bin! I suggest using what you have on-hand already, as that will be the easiest option. Or you can make something completely new, too. It’s up to you.
We decided to go halfway between both options – something old and something new. But nothing borrowed or blue, I promise.
We didn’t have a red-only sensory material, so we made some this time around. For the black spots, we used black chickpeas we’d used in the past (for our Stellaluna-inspired batty sensory play, as well as the Star Wars X-Wing sensory bin). I really do like to reuse sensory materials as much as possible.
Materials we used
Related: Butterfly Life Cycle Sensory Bottles
Prepping the sensory bin
I dyed a five-pound bag of rice for this bin. To do so, I placed part of the bag of rice into a gallon Ziploc freezer bag.
From there, some red liquid watercolors were squirted into the bag. I zipped up the baggie, shook everything up for a bit, and then placed the dyed rice to dry (on wax paper-lined cookie sheets).
I did this in three batches, using the same plastic baggie each time. Then the baggie got rinsed clean and set out to dry. I’ll likely use it the next time I’m out to dye sensory materials.
I dyed all of the rice for the bin this time around, but your students can definitely help with this process!
Once the rice was dried, we poured all of it into a small woven bin. You can use whatever kind of container you’d like, but we went small scale for this activity.
The black chickpeas were made with black liquid watercolors (inspired by And Next Comes L’s rainbow chickpeas). They made great “spots” for the ladybug bin, so we just sprinkled them randomly on top of the rice. Once we’re all done with this sensory play, the chickpeas will be easy enough to pick out so we can store everything separately (to reuse again in the future, I’m sure).
Now It’s Time for the Printable Ladybug Puzzles
Yes, the ladybug sensory bin is pretty awesome on it’s own. In fact, I’d suggest you let the kids get their hands on it before you even introduce the letter puzzles.
Add scoops, spoons, funnels, etc. so the children can manipulate the sensory materials for a while. Then add in the letters.
Materials we used
Prepping the letter cards
The ladybug cards are about a quarter sheet of standard-sized paper. Since I wanted them to be a bit smaller for our sensory play, I printed them at 75% of their usual size.
Once the letter cards are printed out, cut them out. Then cut them in half, separating the uppercase letters from the lowercase letters.
Next up, it’s time to laminate all of the puzzle pieces. Then cut them out, and you’re good to go. Bonus – since they’re laminated, you can use these printable ladybug cards for a variety of other literacy activities.
Printable Ladybug Alphabet Puzzles in a Sensory Bin
Now that everything is prepped and ready to go, it’s time to play with the printable ladybug puzzles!
How you present the alphabet cards in the bin all depends on your students’ needs and what you’re teaching right now.
Related: Super Simple Insect Small World
All of the cards
If your group is ready for it, add all of the letter puzzles to the sensory bin. This could be a bit overwhelming for some children, so use your best judgement of course!
The kids can match up the uppercase and lowercase letters and keep the completed ladybugs in the bin. They can also match the cards and remove the completed bugs from the bin.
Maybe you could pair this up with a simple letter matching recording sheet (kind of like these alphabet pages).
Letters the kids already know
If you plan on using this small sensory bin with just a couple of kids, you can personalize the letters. Add letters that the kids are already comfortable with. Doing so will make this a positive independent activity for the kids, as they’re comfortable with that knowledge.
Then you could add two or three letters that the children are still learning. This is far less intimidating than placing every letter in the bin.
Related: Alphabet Books for Preschoolers
Use the letters in the kids’ names
Choose one child’s name to focus on and just add those letters to the bin at first. Then add a few kids’ letters to the bin.
You could also add every students’ first letters to the ladybug bin to start off with. Just depends on your preference!
Make it into a sensory writing tray
Encourage letter writing practice with the ladybug letters as visual cues. The children put together one of the letter puzzles.
Then the kids can use their fingers to write the letters in the red rice bin.
Other ideas for the printable ladybug puzzles
Of course, the alphabet puzzles can be used a variety of other ways. The sky’s the limit, really. Here are a few more ideas for you:
- Pair the cards with wet or dry erase markers and the kids write over the letters.
- Use small toys or picture cards to match with the letters (to work on letter sounds).
- Have the children make their own ladybug name kits to practice assembling, writing, and reading their names.
- Add the cards to popsicle sticks to make letter puppets and pointers.
- Use the cards to play an alphabet memory game.
- Hide the cards around the classroom and go on a ladybug letter hunt.
Preschool Ladybug Lesson Plans
Save time planning and get right to the hands-on learning fun with done-for-you printable lesson plans. The preschool ladybug lesson pack comes with a suggest book list, a preschool skills checklist, printable weekly plans, printable daily plans with activity explanations (for whole group, small group, and center activities), and 10 related printables.
Also available on Teachers Pay Teachers
More Bug Activities for Kids
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT:
Ladybug Life Cycle Wheel // The STEM Laboratory
Bug Puzzles (Beginning Sounds) // Fairy Poppins
Bug Subtraction Cards // The Kindergarten Connection
Ladybug Editable Sight Word Puzzles // A Dab of Glue Will Do
Printable Ladybug Letter Puzzles and Sensory Bin // Fun-A-Day
Simple Outdoor Ant Experiment // Science Kiddo
Ladybug One More One Less Activity // Fantastic Fun and Learning
Bug Jar Addition and Subtraction Mats // Fun Learning for Kids
Counting Ants Math Game // Mrs. Jones’ Creation Station
Insect Theme Prewriting Practice // Stay at Home Educator
I Spy Bugs Sensory Bin // Teach Me Mommy
Insect Printable Sorting Worksheet // Fun with Mama
Bug Counting Clip Cards // Playdough to Plato
Ladybug Counting Cards 1-20 // Powerful Mothering
Butterfly Life Cycle Mini Book Freebie // The Primary Post
Homemade Butterfly Playdough Kit // Sugar Spice and Glitter
CVC Bug Matching Game // Sweet Sounds of Kindergarten
Bug Story Problems // Recipe for Teaching
Bugs: How Many Syllables? // Liz’s Early Learning Spot
Bug Theme Bingo Cards // Schooling a Monkey
Ten Frame Game More and Less // Sara J Creations
Buggy Partner Cards // Simplified Classroom
Get the Printable Ladybug Letter Puzzles
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