The Grouchy Ladybug always catches me off-guard, because it seems to be missing the “Very”. You know, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Very Lonely Firefly, The Very Busy Spider, The Very Clumsy Click Beetle, and…..The Grouchy Ladybug. I guess he’s just a little grouchy.
Well, this ladybug, who’s feeling a little bit grouchy, lands on the same aphid-laden leaf as another ladybug, who’s not feeling the least bit grouchy. One ladybug suggests they share, the other insists they’re all for him (I’m sure you can guess which was which). The rest of the story follows the grouchy ladybug as he goes from one creature to the next, each bigger than the one before, trying to pick a fight. He ends up trying to pick a fight with a whale, whose tail smacks him all the way back to that same aphid-laden leaf. There, the polite ladybug offers again to share, and this time Mr. Grouchy realizes his life is much easier when he tries to get along.
I can see where some might shy away from this book, as each page includes the dialogue, “Do you want to fight?” But I think you can really turn that around and talk about how grumpy the ladybug is being, that he’s making poor choices, and that he’s having a bad day because of those choices. I like to point out how much more cheerful the ladybugs are when they’re sharing with each other.
In addition to highlighting social skills, you can easily use this book to focus on a variety of math skills like size (with the animals in gradually increasing sizes), time, and number recognition. You can throw in a science discussion as well, as you talk about the relationships between the aphids, the leaf, and the ladybugs.
While there are plenty of directions you could take for your activity, here are two I’ve used.
Counting by 2′s Ladybug Style
Draw a simple ladybug shape and put the same number of black dots on each side. Make corresponding number cards. Use the cards as a counting and matching activity, to reinforce counting by twos, or basic addition. I like to set out the number cards, and then give the children the ladybugs and have them find the right “home” for the ladybug. By watching how they accomplish this task, I can learn a lot about their math skills.
I’ve also made these simple clocks to use as an extension of this story. (Each page begins with the time, on the hour.) I used a sturdy Chinet plate, wrote numbers (somewhat unevenly, I now notice) around the edges of the back. Then, I drew the minute hand, pointing at the 12, and inserted a movable hour hand using a brass brad.
You can use this quick clock to work on telling time on the hour, but I think the major skill here is simple numeral recognition. I may give a clock to a child and ask her to show me 3 o’clock. Or I may do the reverse, showing her the clock and asking for the time. In either instance, the child is learning about telling time, but she’s also making critical connections between the written and spoken labels for each numeral.
The Very Clumsy Click Beetle tells of a poor soul, trapped on his back, desperately trying to flip back over. With some coaching from an elder Click Beetle, and a lot of perseverance, the young whippersnapper finally finds his feet on the ground.
Take the opportunity to talk about patience, practice, and persistance with this story!
After reading, do some movement activities! Naturally, somersaults are at the top of the list! (Make sure that you have the children attempt the skill one at a time to avoid collisions!) You could also do an obstacle course with a low balance beam, tunnels for crawling, and a hula hoop as a target for one big, long jump! Throw in some expressive movements, by challenging the children to move like spiders, butterflies, or grasshoppers. Activities like these use large motor skills, support physical development, and truly help children make active connections to reading!