Ladybugs: College Kid V.S. A 4-Year-Old

A few months ago Ari and I attended a pre-school program at an education facility here in Reno. The program (taught by a college kid) was about ladybugs. In the course of this lesson we learned that “ladybugs grow a new spot for every year they are alive, so if you look at a ladybug and count its spots you can tell how old it is…”

“Really? That just didn’t sound right to me.” I kept my mouth shut and made a mental note to bring this up with Ari somewhere down the road.

Last week opportunity knocked in the form of some ladybug pupae attached to our sidewalk. I knew this was the moment I’d been looking for; time a little critical thinking 101. We took the chubby little pupae home and put them in a jar where we could check them daily. It took a few days, but finally we noticed something starting to break out of one of the pupae. It was a ladybug! We watched the process for quite sometime, and when the little critter was finally free, Ari and I had the following conversation:

Me: So Ari, remember when we went to that program about ladybugs at the (undisclosed education facility in Reno)?
Ari: Ya
Me: Do you remember what you learned about their spots?
Ari: Ummmm, they have spots.
Me: Well, ya, but do you remember what she said happened with the spots every year?
Ari: They grow another spot.
Me: Right, the teacher told us that ladybugs grow one new spot every year, so the spots tell us how old they are.
Ari: Ya, it’s on their birthday.
Me: If our ladybug just came out of it’s pupa, how hold is it?
Ari: Ummm, I don’t know. One?
Me: Yep, or maybe even zero! So how many spots should it have?
Ari: One.
Me: Ya, but no more than one. How many does it have?
Ari: 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… It has 5 spots.
Me: Really? Interesting…
Ari: (thinking face, long pause)…Heeeey! She was wrong!!!

15 Comments so far

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  1. Joshua Der

    I love the wiki link to critical thinking.

    I remember one time when I was in 3rd grade when I realized my teacher was wrong about something. It was revelational. She said we blinked 10 times in 1 second and I couldn’t figure out how that could ever be right.

    • Josh – Haahaa, I love it! I was actually a little annoyed at first by this girl, but she’s actually provided us with several opportunities to challenge her ‘facts’; it’s been great.

  2. That’s what collage will do to ya. :)

  3. Becky

    Did she really tell you that?….. crazy. Well, I once taught a class about the whole daddy long legs are poisonous thingy…. alas… I was wrong too.

    • Becky – Thats ok. They probably went home and let one bite them to see if you were right…

  4. I had a teacher in high school tell me that buffalo were ten feet tall back in the days of the wild west. Sad part: I believed her and went home to enlighten my parents. They laughed til they cried.

    • Liv – Hummm, do you think she meant Mastodons? Haahaa. Poor teachers, they really do have a lot of information to try and get right!

  5. p.s. I think I saw a ladybug larvae today!

  6. Cris

    This made me laugh out loud. How cute :)

  7. Travis

    Maybe your lady bud was a larvae for 5 years… I’m sure the teacher was thinking that none of the kids were paying attention, or that they wouldn’t remember any of this anyway. Hahahaha Teaching groups of kids would be so hard.

    • Teaching groups of kids is definitely hard, and it’s amazing how many questions an elementary kid can throw at you that you can’t answer. Admitting you don’t know the answer, but still coming across as credible is a fine art. The thing about the ‘ladybug spots’ was that it was part of her prepared lesson, and she referred to this ‘fact’ several times. I’m sure it was just something she heard when she was young and never thought to question it. It happens to all of us. Sometimes I wonder if should have said something to her? It actually wasn’t the first time she’d given misinformation…

  8. nice. you probably should mention something – some time – maybe she will verify her facts in the future? that’s important. but, maybe it is even more important for our kids to question what they learn from adults, and then go home to do their own research. that’s powerful. you are such a good mom!

  9. […] 9. Ladybugs: College kid VS a 4-year-old […]


    I'm Lindsey. I'm an environmental educator, my husband's a biologist. The outdoors is infused into everything we do; which explains why I'm better at mud pies than home decorating. More About Me

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