This past term Ruby's class topic has been 'mini beasts' (I'm not sure when creepy crawlies got re-branded, but I suppose this term covers insects, spiders, worm et al). When we were offered Nick Baker's Butterfly World from the 'My Living World' range from Interplay I thought it would be a great opportunity for the whole class to see first hand the life cycle of a butterfly.
The kit arrived, and its engaging and informative packaging sparked Ruby's imagination straight away. Included is a pop-up butterfly 'house', some sticky tabs for attaching the chrysalis to the roof of the house and some mesh, pots and equipment in case you want to hunt for your own caterpillars to hatch. We instead opted to send away for some caterpillars which arrived promptly in their own pot complete with a solid food substance, enough to provide for them throughout this stage.
All the details of where to get hold of your caterpillars are in the really thorough instruction guide which comes with the kit. There's tonnes of information from Nick Baker about the life cycle process, as well as lots of tips on how to care for your creatures.
The caterpillars clearly liked the food in the pot and ate hungrily until they grew big and fat. By this stage I'd taken them into class so all the children could watch them. It wasn't long before the class started to notice the fine silk they started making.
Over a weekend they formed their chrysalis and we carefully transferred them from the lid of the pot to the roof of the pop-up house. At this stage they are very delicate so they were moved up high away from little hands who might accidentally knock them.
Then we waited. It took quite a while for anything to happen next, but over the bank holiday weekend 3 of the chrysalis hatched and there was huge excitement in the class room on the first day back to see 3 beautiful Painted Lady butterflies gently flitting around the net house. Over the next day or so the final one hatched and it was really interesting for the children to see the broken chrysalis still hanging from the roof.
We kept the butterflies for a few days feeding them on a fine spray of sugared water onto a paper towel, so the children could observe them close up.
Finally, the big day arrived when we could release them into the wild. The whole class filed outside into the school garden. We thought they'd like the buddleia and the lavender so we chose to release them here. Carefully the net house was carried out and we unzipped the lid.
With a little encouragement they flew out, stopping for a while in the garden to get used to their surroundings. The children noticed how they made a bee-line for the yellow panels of the painted fence and talked about why they were attracted to that particular colour. One by one, they fluttered away, off to begin thier new life as beautiful butterflies.
The Butterfly World kit was a really engaging way to teach these key stage 2 children about the life cycle of a butterfly and I'm grateful to Interplay for allowing me to share it with them. They've learnt to respect wild animals and to treat them gently too.
The Butterfly World kit can be purchased from Interplay online for £12.99 and the approved caterpillar retailer sells caterpillers with food pot for around £8.