Saturday 31 July 2010

Learning About Butterflies

The summer holidays are now here and in order to give some focus to our activities I decided to theme each week. I gave our Little Garden Helpers the choice of a variety of things from Outer Space to Zoo Animals and Festivals to Vehicles but Garden Girl shouted out 'Butterflies, Butterflies'. This was followed by a rather cross, 'No, not Butterflies. Ladybirds,' from Garden Boy, so I suggested we looked at a different garden creature each week. We are away camping for one week so we have five weeks of bug activities and the chosen five are

Butterflies, Ladybirds, Worms, Snails and Ants.

This week we have been looking at butterflies.

Things to Tell Your Toddler
  • Butterflies lay teeny tiny eggs on leaves
  • Caterpillars emerge from the eggs
  • Caterpillars only live for 3-4 weeks
  • Caterpillars do not have noses
  • Instead, they breathe through holes along their bodies, called spiracles
  • Caterpillars spend all their time munching leaves 
  • The more they munch, the more they grow
  • As they grow caterpillars shed their skins
  • Underneath a caterpillars final layer of skin is a hard skin called the pupa, or chrysalis
  • Whilst in the chrysalis the caterpillar transforms into a butterfly
  • There are thousands of different butterflies in the world
  • Butterflies are attracted to colourful flowers because they feed on the nectar
  • Butterflies taste with their feet
Activities We Have Done 
  • Garden Girl and Garden Boy have been painting lots this week. First they made a giant caterpillar, then they made a giant butterly. We now have the four stages of a butterflies life cycle cellotaped to our patio doors.

  • We visited a local museum and made colourful flowers to attract butterflies, with scrunched up tissue paper, jewels and paper plates.
  • We hunted for caterpillars in the garden and tried to find a chrysalis but failed (only to be told by Garden Dad he had thrown an empty one away but a few days earlier).
  • We joined the M&S butterfly count. Garden Boy sat still for five of the fifteen minutes then announced it was boring and he was going to weed. You heard no complaints from me. Garden Girl kept a keen watch for the full fifteen minutes then got upset when I told her the time was up so she stayed for longer, watching until I shouted 'Ice Lollies' from the kitchen! 

  • We looked online at photos of the various life cycle stages of a butterfly, and searched through our own photos for pictures of caterpillars and butterflies.
  • We drew a caterpillar on the computer but found a butterfly too difficult.

  • We read 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' and danced to the Boogie Beebies Butterfly Song.
  • We wiggled, munched, shrugged, curled up and fluttered to the verses of 'There's a Little Caterpillar on a Leaf, Wiggle Wiggle', over and over again and to the great amuseument of Garden Lass who bounced excitedly in her bouncy chair while she watched her brother and sister flutter around the room.
  • Garden Girl insisted that Garden Lass must alternately wear nappies with a caterpillar image and nappies with a butterfly image. This was fine till we ran out and Garden Girl became upset. In the end we settled on pretending the grasshoppers were caterpillars and the dragon flies were butterflies. In anticipation of what will happen in future weeks I have now started stockpiling nappies with ladybirds and snails. They don't come with worms and ants. I will cross that bridge when I come to it.  
  • And finally we made butterfly cakes. Any excuse!

Having learned this week that there are people who look after butterflies for a living, Garden Girl has decided that this is something she would like to do when she grows up; as long as she can be a ballerina as well. Garden Boy prefers the caterpillar stage of the life cycle and is particularly proud of the giant painted caterpillar on our window. I fear we may never be able to take it down. Garden Lass has a new found appreciation of living room dance shows. Her big grin while she watched us wiggle and flutter around the room being my own personal highlight of the week.


  1. I purchased a butterfly hatchery from the National Trust (you can also buy it on line) it was great. You send off for 5 eggs and the food and you then watch them grow into butterflies at which point you release them!

  2. Blimey all in one week! You put me to shame ;0) Such wonderful projects for them to get into. I love the butterfly and catterpilla paintings... will follow your lead and get the paint out this week. Thanks for the inspiration!