When I was a Kindergarten teacher every year towards the end of the school year, I would teach the butterfly life cycle. The best way to learn about a life cycle is to see it for yourself. The wonder and amazement to see a caterpillar change into a butterfly is a magical sight. As the munchkins grew, I decided it would be fun to make this a family tradition for us. Every end of May or beginning of June we order caterpillars to watch the wonder of nature and the butterfly life cycle. This is a great tradition to kick off summer vacation. This year we did it later then ever in July, but life happens.
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The first time you order make sure to get a Insect Lore Butterfly Growing Kit and it will come with caterpillars.
You keep the butterfly garden and clean it to use it for the next year. For us we just order Insect Lore 5 Live Caterpillars-Butterfly Kit Habitat Refill.
The caterpillars come in a container filled with food. At first the caterpillars are so small you can hardly see them. The kids loves watching the caterpillars grow and get fat just like in The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I usually put the caterpillar containers into the butterfly garden so that no one can touch them or bother them. We look at them quite a few times throughout the day. It’s fun to use magnifying glasses when the caterpillars are small.
I think this family tradition helps the kids learn patience because you can’t rush nature. After the caterpillars get big and fat, they start to make the chrysalis. This is really neat to see the caterpillars do this. Wait a couple days after the last caterpillar makes it’s chrysalis before removing the lid of the container (I’ve learned this the hard way). The kids check on the caterpillars everyday to see if they will turn into butterflies. This truly makes the butterfly life cycle come alive.
Now this part is really cool to see and still amazes me every year. When it’s almost time for the butterfly to emerge, the chrysalis goes from black to almost clear and you can start to see the butterfly inside.
It’s truly magical to see the butterfly come out of the chrysalis and sit and dry it’s wings. Don’t be nervous, but when they come out red stuff (it looks like blood) will be on the butterfly garden. I don’t know the scientific term for it, but I”m sure it’s in the book they send. However this is perfectly normal for the butterfly.
The kids love watching the butterflies and will stare at them for hours. We had the butterflies down lower, but we didn’t think about the cat (its our first butterfly year with her). Our cat loves insects and things that fly and she was stalking our butterflies so they had to go up high. We even had to push the kitchen table as far away as we could so she couldn’t jump and get them. Please excuse my messy counter.
Usually all the butterflies come out in a couple days of each other. To feed the butterflies I give them sugar water and the kids love picking flowers from the garden for them. These butterflies loved the coneflowers. As soon as all the butterflies have emerged and dried their wings, we release them right away.
We love to release the butterflies on the front porch by the perennial garden. The kids are a little sad, but love seeing them flutter away. It was really neat last year because after we released the butterflies we saw the same type of butterfly all summer long in the flowers. We liked to think it was one of ours. This was the first summer that happened. In past summers we released them and never saw any again.
The butterfly life cycle has become a family tradition that we all love and look forward to every year. If your looking for more family traditions, here are some of my favorites.
It brings science to life and helps our environment. This would be a wonderful Earth Day activity, but it’s still to cold at our house that time of the year. I can’t wait to see if our butterflies come back to visit again this year!