Butterflies come from caterpillars? Taking that in and understanding it can be a big leap for kidlets! Incorporating some nursery rhymes, books, dramatic play and good, old-fashioned time out in Mother Nature will let your kiddo experience their own metamorphosis of growing and learning!
My very first book was a book of nursery rhymes and I ‘read’ it or sang it front to back with relish.
Nursery rhymes are an excellent way for children to:
1. Learn early phonic skills giving them the ability to hear and identify letter sounds
2. Learn a language’s cadence, the ‘beat’ of language which HOPEFULLY will counter the uptalk phenomena…
3. Learn the elements of storytelling—an example: stories have a beginning, middle and an end
4. Be introduced and engaged in literary devices—rhythm and rhyme of course, but also anthropomorphism, alliteration,
satire and many others
5. Learn new words, improve their vocabularies
6. Have the bounds of their imaginations stretched!
7. Delight in the saying/singing of, often nonsense words, that are just plain fun to say!!
Additionally, know that being well-versed in nursery rhymes isn’t all fun and games…teaching your child nursery rhymes helps them to:
●listen closely—developing attentiveness
●to remember, anticipate and predict
●all skills that will help them with literacy!
READ: The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, a classic children’s book. Follow the caterpillar as it eats its way through a variety of tasty snacks on it’s journey to making a chrysalis. In the book they use cocoon, but that term and structure typically is reserved for a caterpillar that turns into a moth.
Another one of my favorites—well, actually one of my all-time favorites simply because of the main characters: One with her sheer audacity and the other’s hint of naivete tinged with longing — is The Polliwog and the Caterpillar by Jack Kent. Reading either or both of these books will give your child information on a butterfly’s life cycle.
Monday through Friday the Very Hungry Caterpillar ate his way through all kinds of fruits. We’ll use this as the basis for an activity AND snack!
NOTE: If you’re doing this with a group of children, you might want to use artificial fruit for all the activities and save the real fruit for making the snack.
Enrich the PLAY: Matching the numeral to number
Fruit pictures — see below
(5) index cards
Artificial/plastic apple, pears, plums, strawberries, and oranges
• Mark the cards 1-5, one numeral/card. On the opposite side of the card make the corresponding number of (large) dots (or print the image of the fruit) and set aside
• Place fruit into large bowl
• Have your kidlet wash their hands first, then let them examine the fruit
• ASK: What is alike and what is different between the fruit?
Some possible alikes: Shape, Color, Texture
Some possible differences: Size, Taste, Juiciness
NOTE: There could be fruits that fit into parts of both categories
• Place the Fruit Cards down with a plate alongside each card
• Have your kidlet place the correct fruit and correct amount of fruit on the plate
NOTE: If you have more than one child, let them take turns selecting a fruit and placing it on a plate.
• Once all the fruit is on the plates, count out each fruit’s amount
• IF your kiddo shows some interest in matching numerals to the quantity of fruit, use the cards–say the numeral and have them place it alongside the corresponding number-they can self-correct by turning over the card and checking to see if the number of dots on the cards is the same number of fruit on the plates
• Take up the cards, mix them up and try again!
• After your kidlet’s finished placing the cards, cut up the fruit serve into small bowls for snack!
Extend the PLAY: Butterflies—creating & becoming
The preschool kidlets always were keen to do art projects that involved melting crayons—and, of course, it’s easy to see why! It’s a science-in-action activity with a change of state happening right before their eyes when heat’s applied, their (solid) crayons become (liquid) color! Plus it’s exciting to witness the birth of new colors when the melting/melted colors merge. We’ll use this technique to make colorful butterfly wings!
Glue Stick or tape
Grater and/or pencil sharpener
(2) Pipe Cleaners/butterfly
Butterfly shape template-see below
• Peel paper sleeve off crayons
• Create crayon shavings using grater
NOTE: If your kiddo is on the younger side they can contribute, more easily-and perhaps more safely, using a pencil sharpener
• Keep the crayon shavings in separate containers/color
• Cut out (2) butterfly shapes using the template
• Using a piece of waxed paper that’ll fill in the area of the wings, let your kidlet sprinkle in crayon shavings as they’d like…if they’d like to use their finger to make a design in the shavings encourage it! Make one for the other wing
• Place another piece of wax over the paper(s) with the shavings
• Put a dish towel on top of the waxed papers
• Supervise your kiddo as they ‘iron’ over the dish towel, checking on the progress…pressing down and lifting up will melt the colors in place so to speak, whereas if they iron is moved around the colors will smear and mix—why not let ’em try both techniques?!
• Let melted crayons in the wax paper cool
• Glue or tape waxed paper onto one of the butterfly shape templates
NOTE: More than likely you’ll have to pre-shape it to fit within the wings BEFORE it’s affixed to the butterfly shape
• Curl ends of pipe cleaners and tape onto ‘head’ of butterfly shape
• Glue 2nd butterfly shape on top of 1st butterfly shape
• Hang up in a window & enjoy the colors!
Now let your child pretend to be butterflies…here are an additional song and fingerplay to incorporate into their play!
Butterfly, Butterfly Flutter Around
(Tune: Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear Turn Around)
Butterfly, butterfly, flutter around
Butterfly, butterfly, touch the ground.
Butterfly, butterfly, fly so free.
Butterfly, butterfly, land on me!
Butterfly, butterfly, reach the sky,
Butterfly, butterfly, say good-bye!
Little Fuzzy Caterpillar
Little fuzzy caterpillar
In your warm cocoon
The cold winter’s over and you’ll be hatching soon.
Then you’ll spread your wings
On a warm summer’s day
And wave us all good-bye
As you fly, fly away.
Wearing Orange Monarch Wings will let your kiddo flutter, flit, and fly—swooping, spiraling, and soaring. Another option is using scarves to make your own your wings!
(2) hair ties
(2-3) yards of ribbon
Instead of re-inventing the wheel, I found these fantastic instructions from Kiki Magazine.
Fuzzy, Wuzzy Caterpillar mentions a caterpillar in the garden…so why not grow a butterfly garden! It’s important to learn what plants are needed for caterpillars to thrive as well as what butterflies need to live and lay eggs so the cycle will continue!
KNOW it’s always best to use native plants! They use less water and, as they are adapted to the local environmental conditions, are also typically hardier.
Enrich the LEARNING: Butterfly Garden
Several Flat Rocks for resting
Caterpillar Host Plants
Butterfly Nectar Plants
Natural Science: Caterpillar to Butterfly
IF you have put in the right plants, provide sufficient water and resting places your family may be lucky enough to have a caterpillar choose your garden to begin their metamorphosis! If not watch this incredible video!
I hope you’ll have butterflies emerge from your garden, but if they don’t know tending to your garden will give your kidlets a connection to the natural, plant-life cycle that they wouldn’t have had otherwise. If you’d like to give them a little bit of a sneak-peek on butterflies we’re fortunate to have a Tropical Butterfly House located at the Pacific Science Center. Also, the Woodland Park Zoo houses Molbak’s Butterfly House exhibit which is open during the summer months. Most zoos have some kind of butterfly exhibit too; check your local zoo and fly–or flit–on over!
Yours in Play!