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4.3.3 Ladybug Mazes

Math Content:

Students plan a series of moves that take the ladybug through a maze.

To help the ladybug plan the path it should take to navigate through the maze, click on the direction buttons. The commands will appear on the screen below the picture of the ladybug. Click on the Play button to see if the path works. To clear a step, click on the step in the plan and then click on the Clear Step button. To insert a step, click on the step in the plan and then click on another direction button. Other features can be accessed from the following buttons: 

Entire Pattern    
Pause (left button) and resume (right button) 
Stop and erase the path (does not erase the plan)  
Show Leaf 
Shows or hides the leaf  
Move Leaf 
Moves the leaf  
Move Forward 
 Move Back 
  Right 45 
45 degree right turn  
left 45 
45 degree left turn  
Right 90 
90 degree right turn  
Left 90  
90 degree left turn 

Clear Step 

Clears the selected step 
Clear All   
Clears all steps  


The objective of this task is to plan a path that moves the ladybug through the maze. Click on the direction buttons to help the ladybug plan the path it should take to move through the maze without crossing the walls. Click the "Play" button to see if your plan works. Try some of the other mazes.

Getting Started in the Classroom

As students develop proficiency in navigating with the ladybug, they can create navigational plans that will move the ladybug through a maze. This process enables them to apply strategies learned in the other activities. To assess students' understanding of direction and distance, as well as their problem-solving strategies, teachers might ask the following:

  • Did you picture in your head how to get the ladybug through the maze?
  • Which movements did you use the most?
  • If you walked the same path here in the classroom, starting at your table, where would you end up?

What Students Learn in Ladybug Mazes

Creating a plan to move the ladybug through a maze offers different challenges that are more difficult than those in the previous activities. Students must make a plan that will turn the ladybug at the appropriate corners and keep it on the path without crossing the walls. Because the applet allows students to modify one step in their plan, to begin with a new set of directions, and to execute their plans step by step or in their entirety, students have some flexibility in how they can approach the task while they gain experience in estimating length and turn (angle) measures.

Take Time to Reflect

  • What mathematical ideas are being explored by students?
  • How can dialogue among students help them reflect on their strategies and consider ways to create plans with less trial and error?
  • By listening to discussions among students, what might a teacher learn about their understanding of movement in space? What misunderstandings might teachers anticipate?