Sunday, April 17, 2011

Awesome Butterfly Moments

With spring, comes the study of butterflies. I put together a Butterfly Unit Study for our homeschool co-op, with loads of activities I'll share here, along with the books and crafts we used at home. In addition, we had a fabulous field trip with a huge group of homeschoolers to the Butterflies Are Blooming exhibit at Frederik Meijer Gardens.

One of our favorite crafts at home was "From Caterpillar to Chrysalis to Butterfly." Using a stick from your latest outdoor adventure walk, simply use the small branches to build each stage on. We used green pipe cleaner for the caterpilar, brown Bend-a-roos for the chrysalis, and pink pipe cleaner and decorated paper bags for the butterfly. Also, here is a print-out to color of the Butterfly Life Cycle.

The activities we did for the unit study included making the Butterfly Life Cycle on paper plates out of dry pasta (Acini de Pepe for the eggs, Rigatoni for the caterpillars, Jumbo shells for the chrysalis, Bow Ties for the butterflies.); Butterfly and Caterpillar songs for the younger ones along with reading and role play of The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

I also found a great lesson called "How a Butterfly Eats" where the kids make flowers out of paper to cover plastic cups. They stick a straw through to be the proboscis of the butterfly so they can drink the flower's nectar (juice) just like a real butterfly does. I read the book "Are You a Butterfly" during this activity, which is a really cute story that amused the kids as they imagined if they split open like caterpillars or had feelers on top of their heads.

With the older kids we also did an awesome Cocoon Thread activity. The cocoon thread of the caterpillar, when unwound, is over one-half mile in length – that's 2,640 feet long. I bought two 50-foot all purpose thread/ropes (the kind in the camping section for clothes lines). The kids enjoyed physically experiencing (walking) the length of the cocoon thread, discussing the strength and length of how much thread a single caterpillar spins. One of our moms did a great job leading the kids in teams as they measured and wrapped each other up for their metamorphosis.

We also made Butterfly Feeders with fruit, water and sugar for the kids to take home and discussed what kinds of flowers to plant in the yard to attract and feed butterflies. It was a fun day.

Here are some pictures from our field trip to the Butterfly Exhibit. We go every year, and this year my kindergartner was thrilled to have a butterfly land on her shoulder and stay long enough to give her some butterfly kisses. My son was sick and stayed home with dad, but I enjoyed some one-on-one time with my daughter. It was a special day, and my "social butterfly" enjoyed a day of learning and exploring with her friends.

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