Just like our ladybug project, I ordered our butterfly larvae from Insect Lore. I've been doing this project with my students for more years than I can count and I've slowly been increasing the number of butterflies I order. For a while, I ordered one small cup of caterpillars (about 5 or 6), then last year, I had two classes, AM and PM, so I ordered two cups and we ended up with about 10 painted lady butterflies.
This year, I have 13 students, not including my own children, but since I can only have 4 students each class period, every day looks different as far as kiddos go. I wanted each child to experience the best part of the butterfly project - releasing the butterflies - so I ordered a 'school kit' so we'd have enough of the lovely painted ladies to release a few during each class.
When my kit arrived and I finally got them placed into their individual cups, this is what I ended up with.
That is a grand total of 47 caterpillars....aaannnnddd, maybe I went a bit overboard with the ordering, but never mind that, on to activities.
I've been working hard to incorporate more Reggio-inspired ideas into my curriculum and because long-term projects are something used quite a bit in that particular school of thought, I figured our butterfly project would be a great time to start introducing documentation and observation to the children.
Here are some samples of my son's observations:
And because this observation and documentation thing is still new to me, these are the only three I actually managed to get done, however; you can see the progression of thought and the addition of detail in just this short amount of time. The first picture doesn't look like much to the casual observer, but I know that the 'S' in the bottom left is his caterpillar; the second picture shows the cup with the concentric circles and the caterpillar to the left; by the third picture, he asked me to label everything for him. Next time, I'll remember to finish these observations with him - who knows where he would have gone next!
We kept a close eye on our caterpillars over the next week and they eventually got to be quite large.
The next step in the process is the 'J' hang - and now I'm really wishing I'd done more observational drawings with the kiddos - how cool is this?
Finally, all of the caterpillars became chrysalids (which I guess sounds nicer than chrysalises) and I had to painstakingly pin each cup lid to the side of our butterfly garden. There were a few that had to be placed on the bottom, but I managed to fit all of them in there safe and sound where we watched and waited for another whole week.
While we were waiting, we made some fun crafts. And of course, no butterfly unit would be complete without:
We made pom-pom caterpillars.
And had a bonus math lesson when we spontaneously decided to count our pom-poms.
We also used wool roving wrapped around a pipe cleaner to create rainbow chrysalids.
And finally, coffee filter butterflies, because children love spray bottles and they always turn out lovely!
And finally, after two weeks of waiting, we were visited (on Saturday, of course!) by our very first butterfly.
And soon, we had a butterfly garden literally overflowing with painted ladies.
We have spent this week saying goodbye to our new little friends, some of whom were kind enough to give us an extended goodbye.