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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Leo, the Lightening Bug

Title:  Leo the Lightning Bug

By Eric Drachman

Illustrated by James Muscarello 

Subjects: Bullying, Language Arts, Speech, Math, Drama, Dance, Art

Objectives: Bullying, Believing in yourself, Problem Solving, Prediction, Characters, Emotions/feelings, Comprehension, Fluency, Times Tables 

Grade(s): Primary 

 Description: Leo the Lightning Bug can be used any time of the year, but would especially be good to use at the beginning of the year to prevent bullying before it happens.  In the book, Leo gets laughed at because he can’t light his bottom like the other lightening bugs.  He practices, and is eventually able to light up.  If you buy the book through the link on Amazon, you will get the cd with it.  The cd is a great way to enhance the book sound effects.  It can also be used as a technology tool for language arts (see below). 

Remember this is not a complete lesson.  It is ideas on how to integrate the arts into Language Arts and other subjects that have to do with the children’s book.  Use and adapt as you like! 


1.     HOOK: While the students are not in the room, put glow in the dark stickers around.  Before you read the book, turn all the lights off, so the students only see the glow in the dark stickers.  You can have them guess what kind of book you are going to read.

2.     While the lights are still off, ask the students what they think the book is about.  (Prediction) 

3.     Read the book!  Talk about the book as you are reading it.  What happened?  Who were the characters?  Talk about Leo’s character.  Why was he upset?  Etc.

Choose one or more from the following activities: 

4.     Drama Integration Activity: While reading the book, have the kids “dramatize” certain parts.  For example when Leo feels “small” have the students show you “small”  (They might do things like curl up in a ball, hold their hands close together, or other creative ideas they come up with.  Another example is when Leo’s mom tells him “Leo means ‘Lion,’ have the students growl like a lion or show you a lion face. This is a great activity when teaching emotions, feelings, or bullying.  It also helps the students to comprehend the story better. It also helps students to understand Leo, the main character, and can be used as an activity when teaching about characters.   More things you could do to have the students “dramatize” the book:

a.      “Leo took a deep breath in”- have students take a deep breath of air.

b.     Leo “clenched all of his toes on all six of his feet…”- have the students clench toes, squinch face, and all muscles

c.      When Leo is made fun of and wants to disappear, have the students show you on their faces how they would feel if they wanted to disappear.  (This is a great time to talk about bullying).

d.     During the lighting storm, Leo’s body trembles with the noise.  Have the students tremble. 

e.      When Leo lights for the first time, have the students show you how they think Leo feels now.

f.       KING-OF-THE-LIGHTENING-BUGS!!! – have students do a   “KING-OF-THE-LIGHTENING-BUGS” dance.

g.      “Leo laughed so hard that his whole body shook”- You guessed it- have the students laugh just like Leo.

h.     At the very end of the book, have the kids pretend they are sleeping. (Although, be careful, some kids might not wake up!:-) 

5.     Dance integration Activity: In the book Leo does a “KING-OF-THE-LIGHTENING-BUGS” dance.  This activity would be helpful when teaching children to not give up.  School and other things are hard for some children, and it is easy to “give up.”  Leo didn’t give up, and eventually he was able to light up.  He did a victory dance.  If your students are struggling with something as a class- such as not turning in homework on time, or being quiet when it is not their turn- you could have a class victory dance when they accomplish turning their “homework in as a class” or whatever it is they are working on as a whole.  Another idea to do a victory dance is if- students are working on times tables.  Each time a student accomplishes a times table they get to do a victory dance.   

6.     Another dance integration Activity: This activity can be used when dealing with bullying.  As a class, you could make up a dance as a daily routine.  Then when you do the dance the students should be reminded not to bully.  (It will take some time to remind the students what the dance is for, but it will be a good/fun reminder not to bully other kids). 

7.     Technology integration: If you have the accompanying cd with the book, then you can use it to help individual students with fluency.  This would be good for about 2-4th graders depending on their reading level.  Have the child listen to the book, while reading the words out loud at the same time.   

At home Activity: Of course you can do any of the classroom activities at home, but some may need to be adapted a bit.  The “Victory Dance” activity is a great one to use at home because an individual child may be struggling with something just like Leo.  Another activity you could do at home is create a collage of lightening bugs, or fireflies. You can find pictures on the internet or have fun using materials around the house to make a creative collage.  Along with your collage, you can learn about real lightening bugs from articles on the internet.  Here is the link to Wikipedia on lightening bugs/fireflies: 

Another great website to learn about fireflies is :
It has some cool science experiments, and other cool activities that have to do with fireflies.  

Here are few more activities you can do with this book.  They are not my ideas, so you will find the link as to where I found these ideas with each activity: 

1.     Speech Language Learning: “Print 2 jars, cut out and staple together (except for the top). Cut out and color lightning bugs and words. Glue a word on to the back of each bug. You can make duplicates to make a matching game, or you can hide the bugs and find them. When you find a bug (or a match) place the bugs in the jar as you practice the word on them. Find all the bugs (or matches)! Have fun! Remember to get your tongue up for your /l/ sound!”

2.     Art Integration Activity: Create a little lightening bug out of cardstock, pipe cleaners, and a clothespin. Cut the body out of color cardstock, and use the pipe cleaners to make antennas, arms, and legs for the little fellow.  You could glue the clothespin to the back of the body to give the lightening bug more of a 3-dimensional effect.  You can use wiggly eyes for the bug’s face, and a simply black marker for the eyebrows and mouth. 

To see instructions on how to put this lightening bug together, visit Rachel’s blog at

If you have any more ideas on how to use this book in your classroom or at home, please feel free to share in the comments! 

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