Saturday, May 31, 2014

Caterpillars to Butterflies

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We have had lots of excitement this past nine weeks. Our science kit for this period is Life Cycle of Butterflies. (Our district provides kits, most from Carolina.)

I told them we would be getting caterpillars and one day this box arrived.

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Anytime a box arrives, we always open it as a class. Well, that day they just knew it was the caterpillars. It was.

In the afternoon, the kids scooped "caterpillar food" into a small cup and I helped transfer a caterpillar into the cup, too. We covered it with some thin paper and a lid.

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Every day the kids would come in and look at the caterpillars. They ate and ate and ate. Some even ate the paper at the top of the cup.

They grew bigger and bigger.

We came in one day and a few had changed. They were hanging from the paper (or lid) in chrysalises. The change had begun.

"When will they open? " We looked online for more information.

One afternoon, I carefully transferred the chrysalises to the butterfly house. (I thought I could accomplish this much easier than with the kids in the room.) When they arrived the next day, they could see the forming butterflies all taped along the walls. (I taped the paper, careful not to touch the chrysalis each time. For those who ate their paper and attached to the lids, I taped the lids to the top of the butterfly house.)

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"Which one is mine?" they would ask. I didn't know for sure. We drew and wrote to document what we saw and what we thought was happening.

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Each day kids would go check the butterfly house. So much excitement. Excitement that had to be contained so we could accomplish other things. But excitement that I didn't want to contain (at least too much).

These kids didn't see this type of thing much. They may have yards or parks but they don't see much nature in action.

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One day we came in and a butterfly was sitting on the wall of his house. "He's just flapping his wings." We talked about the need to the butterfly to strengthen his wings.

That morning a couple more appeared. We just noticed them from time to time. Then, a crucial moment.

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"One's coming out now!" a student near the butterfly house called. Everything stopped.

"Okay," I said. "Let's put away our books. Then let's watch." (I knew little else would be accomplished at that moment. Besides, I wanted them to see what was happening.")

After a few days, the butterflies were out. They would fly from time to time around the butterfly house. We made "butterfly food" (sugar water) and placed in on sponges in the house. We enjoyed observing our butterflies.

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"Do butterflies live for nine months?" a boy asked. I didn't know exactly how long they lived. We looked online. TWO WEEKS! These butterflies had a life span of two weeks.

One day, we went to the school garden and released them. One girl tried to take one home, cupped and hidden in her hands. So much excitement. (Too much? I'm sure we disturbed classroom in the building.)

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Throughout the experience, we drew pictures. We wrote words. We talked about life cycles. We read about butterflies and caterpillars. We made our own butterflies, too.

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As I think back through the excitement and interest, I realize. Caterpillars weren't the only ones who transformed these weeks.

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