Firefly Math

Here's your nightly math! Just 5 quick minutes of number fun for kids and parents at home. Read a cool fun fact, followed by math riddles at different levels so everyone can jump in. Your kids will love you for it.

Firefly Math

July 9, 2013

My six-year-old had fun filling the jar and counting the fireflies.

Have you noticed the fireflies lighting up the summer night sky? Fireflies, also called lightning bugs, are beetles and are one of the few insects parents actually allow their children to bring inside the house. There are about 2,000 different species of fireflies, but don’t worry, they can all stay outside during this activity.

Fireflies are an excellent example of bioluminescence–chemical reactions in living organisms that produce light with little or no heat, but not all species light up. Regardless of what’s flying in the night sky near you, here’s a firefly craft that can spark some Bedtime Math fun!


  • blue construction paper
  • yellow paint
  • black marker
  • aluminum / tin foil
  • glue
  • scissors



1. Draw or trace a jar shape on your blue construction paper. Cut out the shape you outlined, or have your child do this.
2. Have your child dip her finger in the yellow paint and press a fingerprint onto the construction paper jar. Wait until the paint dries. Repeat as you wish.
3. Using the marker, you can draw faces and/or wings on the dry fireflies. Each firefly has two pairs of wings, or four wings.
4. Cut a small strip of tinfoil and paste on the top of your construction paper “jar” as the “lid.” Turn over the jar to trip excess tin foil to the desired lid shape.

Variations: Cut your “jar” out of clear plastic and hang on a window pane. Use glow in the dark paint.

Firefly Math

How many pairs of fireflies did she paint in the jar? You can count the fireflies together or ask your child to find the total. Fireflies each have four wings, so now figure out how many wings do the fireflies in your jar have.

To challenge a child with more advanced math skills, you might present a math problem up front. For example, ask them to paint the number of fireflies that would require 16 wings (at four wings per insect, that would be 4 fireflies).

If you want to make this into an even bigger, better, mathier project, create a firefly journal and track the number of fireflies you see lighting up each evening for several consecutive evenings. After a few evenings, add up the total number of glowing bugs and divide it by the number of nights you kept track to find the average number of glowing bugs per night. Have your child paint that number.

For more Firefly Math, check out these fun Bedtime Math problems from the summer of 2012.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About the Author

Candace Lindemann

Candace Lindemann, of Naturally Educational, is a nationally recognized and quoted educational expert and published children's writer who holds a B.A. from Yale University and an M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education,

More posts from this author - Website