Monday, August 8, 2011

Fireflies in a Jar (Glow-in-the-Dark Addition)

With more than a dozen plaster beetle shapes left over from our Friend vs. Foe Beetle Tic-Tac-Toe activity, I was determined to put them to use. Having bought some glow-in-the-dark acrylic paint for another activity, I channelled my inner Picasso to make 13 fireflies. I had saved the excess plastic laminate cut from the Nature Scavenger Hunt cards; On it I drew wings with a fine-tip Sharpie, cut them out, and super-glued them to the back of each firefly.

On their glowing lanterns, I used a permanent black marker to write the following numbers:
2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 7, 8, 9, 9, 10, 11, and 12. My husband cut me two, 2-inch wood cubes to use as dice. I painted these with the same glow-in-the-dark paint. For the dots, I printed a large black rectangle on sticker paper and used a paper-punch to make tiny circular stickers which I stuck on each side.

Lastly, I printed a jar shape on sticker paper and cut out the center. I measured the outside dimensions of a quart-sized freezer sandwich bag and cut the sticker paper slightly smaller. I peeled the backing and stuck it to the bag. Of course, you could use a real Mason jar but since I didn’t have one, I improvised. To download the jar graphic, click here.

Now it was time to play. My son rotated the dice under a lamp to “charge up” the photoluminescent paint. We placed the fireflies on a paper plate under a lamp for the same reason. Now it was time to head into a window-less room.

How to Play
The game is simple. And so clever. And so not my idea. I have to give credit where credit is due. This activity was inspired by Little Miss Kindergarten’s “Roll the Dice” printables (download them here).

To play, I had my son roll the two dice, add the numbers together, “catch” the firefly wearing that number, and put it in the jar (um … I mean bag). The point was to see how many fireflies my son could catch before the light from the paint faded (and, truthfully, to test my son’s addition in the dark when he wouldn’t be able to count on his fingers).

As you can imagine, capturing pictures of the game in the dark was impossible. The one you see here is lit by a flash and doesn't do justice to how fun (or cute) this activity was. My son loved it and did so much better adding in the dark than I’d imagined (Woo Hoo!).

To learn about fireflies, my son read the following two books:
Flash, Firefly, Flash! by Dana Meachen Rau
Fireflies by Cheryl Coughlan

Did you know fireflies are beetles? We didn’t. But we do now!

Like the game, NOT the craft?
The glowing insects are not necessary and DIY insects aren’t either. To simplify this activity, just buy one of those tubes filled with plastic bugs, stick number stickers on their backs and give your child two dice and a jar. Voila! It’s time to catch some bugs!

Find other great math activities, book suggestions, and ideas at Love2Learn2Days' Math Monday Blog Hop!


  1. This is super cute!! I would love if you would link this up to my Made by Little Hands Linky party!! I am visiting from Lines Across My Face and I am a new follower!!! Hope you are having a great day and I see you around soon!!

  2. I totally love the game, this is really making me want some glow in the dark paint. A trip to the craft store might be in order.......

  3. this is cute & fun I need to make some.

    Come share this fab idea on the Sunday Showcase (open thru Thurs.)


  4. Oh my goodness- so adorable and fun. They turned out great.

  5. I love the game and the craft. Glow in the dark paint also sounds awesome! Thanks for sharing last week at Lines Across My Face. I hope to see you again this week.

  6. What an adorable idea! I especially love the way you turned the bag into a jar-perfect touch!! I hope you will add your great idea to Pinterest Tuesday! I know many moms who would love to Pin your darling fireflies!!

  7. Some of your games are so creative! You have to start mass producing them and selling them...parents are always looking for fun and creative ways for their kids to play and learn!Great blog!