Friday 29 May 2009

From Caterpillar to Butterfly

A couple of days ago we had a big beautiful butterfly visit us in the garden which was the little spark Ebi-kun needed to show an interest, then the next day we found a chrysalis so we popped him in a bug box so we could watch him - although I think we will have gone before the butterfly comes out.
I prepared a pile of activities based on the life cycle, many of these ideas came from a summer 'camp' lesson I used to do when I was teaching, it was all based around Eric Carles book The Very Hungry Caterpillar which is a fantastic book to use as a teacher, not only does it have the life cycle there are the days of the week and the food vocab to go at too.
We actually stated off by reading From Caterpillar To Butterfly (we ordered the classroom sized book - oops!) and we also have these life cycle figures which are GREAT, we have them for the ladybird, earthworm and frog too.
Once we had read and discussed the book we moved onto the 3 part cards, although I found some to download, the picture resolution wasn't very good, and me being a bit of a snob in that area I ended up making my own, you can download the file for free here.
We talked about how the butterfly eats, then I filled these little flower dishes with 'nectar' and gave him a bendy straw so that he could drink the nectar with his probocis, he loved doing this - this is fun with a group of kids, although it can be messy!
After the nectar break we made some cup cakes so we could transform them into butterfly cakes and while they were in the oven we read The Very Hungry Caterpillar and then made a life cycle wheel. I prepared this, cut 2 circles out of card, one should be slightly bigger than the other. In the smaller circle cut a square out to make a window. Attach the circles together with a brad/paper fastener then ask the child to draw a picture for each part of the cycle in the box at the 12, 3, 6 and 9 o'clock, positions. They can then re-tell the story by turning the wheel.
Once the cakes were done we made lunch, here we have the mini tomato 'egg' on a leaf, a cucumber 'caterpillar', ham and cheese 'chrysalis' wrap and finally the 'butterfly' cake.
To make the butterfly cakes, make your usual cup cakes and preferred frosting - in our case butter icing. Chop the top off the cup cake then cut the top in half, add a dollop of icing to the top of the cupcake then pop the halves into the top to make the wings - these were always a favourite of mine when I was a kid.
After lunch we started making a book, again left over idea from my summer camp. I simplified the Hungry Caterpillar book and left the food items as blanks, the child fills in the blank and draws the picture. It was quite funny reading some of the Japanese kids books because they would use food that they are familiar with such as onigiri (rice ball) and dango. I did have one kid whose caterpillar only ate junk food :o) He is still working on this, so picture will have to wait.
Then we got out the butterfly alphabet cards that my mom sent, he had fun trying to put them in order, they are beautiful cards and are great to show what the wings look like up close.
Next was time for some maths, I made these counting sheets click here to download the easy and hard one.
Finally it was time to get the paints out, we started off doing the typical butterfly prints (splodging paint on one side of the page then folding it over to make butterfly wings). Whilst they dried we cleaned up and had a nap.
After nap time we cut out the favourite set of wings and stuck them to a toilet roll middle using double sided tape. Then we made a big loop out of fishing wire - when I was teaching I used wool, I don't really like the idea of fishing wire and kids together.

Thread the loop through the toilet roll with the wings on top. Two people hold onto the loop, one crouches down with their hands together whilst the other person raises  and opens their hands which makes the butterfly - fly! You can have fun making it whiz back and forth. The butterfly is a bit of a blur in the picture and please ignore all those backs, it is packing stuff that hasn't made it as far as the suitcase!
If you are looking for more butterfly ideas then Shannon the Linky Queen put together a great post with loads of related links on her butterfly post. The Holocaust museum in Boston is also doing a great butterfly project that you can join in with, click here for more details (found via the crafty crow)

Well, I really must get a wriggle on with the packing, I am not sure how much blogging time I will have when I am away so I have scheduled some posts with the things I have been making for presents, I can't show you them just yet in case the receiver sees them, but I have been a busy bee behind the scenes. Our flight is Monday but we will go to the airport the day before and stay over night to cut down on the travel time a little!


  1. Your post reminded me of the lovely book Hope for the Flowers by Trina Paulus. It is such an inspiring story!

  2. we have a caterpillar in a bug box, and it made a caccoon while we were out of this week. We are going to have to take our critter box with us to watch what happens! I think we have a moth, but I'm not sure :)

  3. This is a wonderful post! We recently had our own winged visitor--a moth instead of a butterfly--and it was a grand time. I pray your you get the delightful surprise of a butterfly emergence before you leave :)

  4. Love the proboscis activity!! You have inspired me to "do" butterflies for the few weeks in my classroom! great ideas!

  5. I don't really understand the "flying" butterfly - 2 people needed to fly? I only see one in the photo. Can you tell me more?

  6. Lindart - yes, there are two people, each person holds the loop of wire in both hands - like reins on a horse and the loop goes through the toilet roll middle as one person opens and raises their arms the other person closes and lowers theirs which makes the butterfly 'fly' between them, does that make sense?

  7. Such great ideas! I really like the flower sipping and metamorphosis lunch.

  8. Could you please let me know where the Butterfly Alphabet Cards were purchased? We already have the book but I can't find the cards anywhere. Did she make them? Thanks!!!!!

  9. Hi Sharon,
    Mom said she ordered them through a newspaper - she can't remember which one, they were on special offer or something.


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