The middle, dig in the dirt, June baby, loves butterflies so it came to no shock that she picked this for her 6th birthday theme. Insert Butterfly Craze at our house for a few months before her birthday and really, the rest of the summer.
Themes around here almost always starts with a trip to the library to collect a special basket of books, both fiction and non-fiction. Our library stop lead to drawing, writing, telling butterfly stories, and dressing up and dancing like butterflies to music we think butterflies would like…not all in one day. All of that lead us to learning more about these amazing transformational creatures and brought us to a lot of parks and butterfly gardens which was perfect for spring & summer!
If you do one activity with your children (other than meet their every basic need and read every day) do this. Order caterpillars and watch them grow into butterflies. One of the coolest things ever. We did it when they were 5, 4, and 3ish. Then we skipped a lot of stuff, including butterfly hatching the year we moved. I was pumped to do it again at ages 7, 6, 4ish. I know we’ll do it again, and maybe again. We were all just flat out mesmerized with this whole process which kept our butterfly spirits way high everyday. The kids wrote songs about butterflies to sing to the cocoons. They kept a very professional science journal (construction paper folded in half and stapled with printer paper inside) to report on our observations. And our world just stopped the day they started wiggling and hatching.
We took pictures every day and they helped (kind of helped) make a non-fiction photo book of the process which they each got to bring to school to show their teacher.
Anytime you can, stick in paper or a dry erase board to encourage writing. I walked in one morning dressed in my daily ironed dress and heels to find this note from the 6 year old lefty who
hates highly dislikes writing. Can you read it? It says “Can you spot another one?” ( I did the running man.)
This butterfly garden was awesome, and it was closed. BUT…they were super, super kind and we ended up getting a personal tour complete with a lady who knew ALL the answers to the kids’ questions. I wish I could hire someone like that one day a week. A Question Nanny. I will be closed, and h/she can answer all questions.
TA-DA! The REAL butterfly garden. As in, we actually took more time with this one and used it as a learning opportunity. We used a pamphlet from the Butterfly Garden and cross-referenced it with some Googling to research which plants would be good to attract butterflies and caterpillars in our area. Ava and I made a list, then took it to 2 different greenhouses to purchase the plants we needed. Ava helped arrange it, dig (her heaven), plant, and water.
Another day, Ava came in crying. Butterfly tragedy. Insert tears and discussions about life and death and how our bodies are shells with a spirit inside. We just went for it. We talked about heaven. We talked about how some people’s shells are cremated and some our buried. Ava chose to bury her butterfly (Thank God–Daddy, light the grill!) in the Butterfly Garden.
But first, we removed our emotions for awhile and decided to study the butterfly’s “shell”. Ava, wiggly Ava, do homework in roller skates Ava, didn’t leave this table for a full hour. Microscopes are a must-buy for your kids. She observed and observed. She even didn’t flinch when I slipped in an idea to write down her observations and added a picture print out.
Then it was time to say a butterfly good-bye. She covered it with one of her favorite rocks. She sang a song. We said a prayer. We decided she’d see that butterfly in heaven someday. Then I was trying not to cry. We had a butterfly release party a few days early instead of pressing our luck and waiting for her “party” day. The butterflies’ life cycle is only about 2 weeks, which I chose not to disclose this year. The kids still think all of our butterflies live in our backyard and visit them on the school playground.
There are a bazillion butterfly books out there, but “Butterfly Alphabet” by Kjell B Sandved one is the most captivating by far and can inspire a whole slew of learning projects. The author is a nature photographer who worked on the book for 25 years in 30 countries to capture every letter in the alphabet on a butterfly! (Insert standing ovation)
And…the grand finale…our butterfly garden worked!! Next year when we wake up our garden, I hope to add a few crafty things: stepping stones and a butterfly feeder are top on the list, maybe some pet rocks.
May there be butterflies in your future, Shelisa
PS. Reader, Alicia, asked me a great question on Think Magnet’s FB page. When did I order them? It takes about 5 days or so to receive them once you order. The website says it takes about 3 weeks to complete the change, and you get 3-5 days to observe the butterflies before release, or more if you want to press your luck. Pretty sure I ordered it early May to hatch around her birthday in mid-June, but my memory is a little fuzzy…like a caterpillar.
Here’s a link! They have fun games and activities on there too. http://www.insectlore.com/