For little ones, springtime brings new ways to explore and play, and this April, Early Education Center students have gleefully canvased Ashley Hall’s blooming campus. Among the profusion of flowers, faculty members Rachael Carter’s and Petra Sorelova’s pre-primary class spied some fascinating insects and immediately wanted to know more. They soon discovered what joy small treasures can bring.

“The class has been noticing all of the changes the warmer temperatures and spring have brought,” shared Carter. “We went on a ‘Rainbow Walk’ around campus trying to find all of the colors of the rainbow, and my students noticed insects on the blooming daffodils as well as the pollen all around. We learned about how insects use the pollen and help to make plants grow. Before Spring Break, we saw a few ladybugs on the green hills and went on an insect hunt and found ants, dragon flies, and mosquitoes. We even found a lizard by the Bear Cave that likes to eat insects!”

Captivated by their discoveries, the students were keen to know more, so Carter ordered ladybugs and ants from North Carolina. “Because of their eager minds, our children are fascinated by the natural world and why insects exist,” she noted. “Through observation and inquiry, our class has learned the importance of insects like ladybugs and the value they have within our environment.” The children enthusiastically monitored the mesh ladybug habitats to see firsthand how ladybugs live and to make observational drawings of the little bugs as they journeyed about their habitat. “The children kept asking us if we had fed the ladybugs or if they needed water,” said Sorelova. “We would put them on the tables while the children were having snacks or lunch, and they observed them during coloring.”

The children’s deep care for their ladybugs was clear when it came time to return their small treasures back to nature. “When we were releasing the ladybugs into the EEC Butterfly Garden, the children were very gentle and told them goodbye, and even the ones who were hesitant to touch the ladybugs would let us put them in their palm to place on the milkweed,” said Sorelova. “It was such a great experience to see our class nurture and care for them with such love!”