Last week our caterpillars arrived and the girls have loved watching them! Our newest friends have been moving and changing so much that we check on them multiple times each day. While the girls love the caterpillars, I love how excited they are about science as they are introduced to so many new concepts, such as the life cycle, investigating, observing and recording, magnification, nutrition. They are also learning big ideas like respect for all life and that change can be a good thing. The idea to order caterpillars as well as many of the activities we are doing actually and scientific discussions come from the book Science is Simple.
Unlike other parts of the country that are overwhelming with caterpillars, we haven’t had such luck so I ordered ours online. We had a very positive experience with Insect Lore who sells caterpillar/butterfly kits as well as all kinds of other fun insects. Our kit included five live caterpillars in a cup with food and air holes as well as a butterfly enclosure they will move to once in chrysalis form. If you don’t want to go the quick and easy route, you can capture caterpillars on your own or even capture butterflies and wait for them to lay eggs. Just be sure to provide a clean, safe enclosure with appropriate food available.
To keep track of the transformation from caterpillar to butterfly I made us a giant calendar chart. I wanted to have the girls chart the change but knew it would be hard to make it meaningful to them. I decided to go with a calendar format with lots of pictures so that they could visual see the progression of days and the changes with our buggie friends. On the days we don’t take pictures we write a few notes of what we have noticed. To make sure we had enough space, I made the calendar with five weeks on it (it takes 7-10 to make a cocoon, which they are in for 7-10 days, and then they become butterflies). I also didn’t include the dates because I didn’t want it to become too confusing, especially with the change in months at the end.
In addition to our chart, we also have been practicing our observation skills. We purchased magnifying glasses before the caterpillars arrived (less than a dollar at the grocery store). The girls have used them to watch the bugs as well as investigate everything in the house. Indeed, “investigating” has become one of our favorite pastimes! 🙂
We also took “notes” on the caterpillars. The girls have little spiral-bound notebooks where we made notes of what we observed. We drew a cup on the page and then Mia and Zoe drew caterpillars inside the cup like they saw them. They also made notes (scribbles) of what they saw. It was great for early writing and science skills.
The perfect springtime activity, our caterpillars and eventually butterflies have inspired all kinds of fun with our latest theme. I will be posting our caterpillar activities soon!