BOISE, Idaho — Preschool students at Montessori Academy in Boise celebrated Earth Day early on Wednesday by releasing 1,000 ladybugs into the environment.
Every spring, academy students learn about insects and the planet by studying ladybugs from eggs to maturity. Then, on Earth Day, the students celebrate their grown-up ladybugs and release them into the schoolyard.
Assistant teacher Cari Lewis said the project teaches kids about Earth and life science by showing them firsthand what ladybugs eat and their role in the ecosystem.
"It becomes more real versus reading a book," Lewis said. "It's not just, 'Oh, I saw this in a book.' Or, 'I saw this at the Zoo.' Now, they get to do it in the classroom."
Teachers add another layer of fun by encouraging students to dress up as their favorite insects during the school day. Five-year-old Montessori student Avery Moss proudly donned his bee costume on Wednesday. Moss said bees are his favorite because of their "racing strips."
While ladybugs were not Moss' first costume choice, he said releasing the bugs was also "super cool."
"It was so good," Moss said. "I love ladybugs. They're red and black, and I love how they fly."
This year, Montessori students released more than 1,000 ladybugs into the environment. Lewis said that ladybugs are beneficial for the ecosystem because they are a natural pesticide that feeds on insects that could damage other plants and vegetation.
Lewis said the activity is an opportunity to show students the importance of caring for Earth and insect life.
"Their curiosity peaks," she said. "They love Earth Day and the whole Earth Day experience."