No matter how old you are, butterflies are one of those animals that can take your breath away. Who hasn’t stood still when around them, hoping that one would land on you so you could see them close up?
These evasive creatures are so beautiful, and undergo one of the most amazing metamorphoses of any animal. Kids love caterpillars and butterflies, but rarely get the chance to see this change.
Using a live butterfly garden during a science lesson gives the opportunity for close observation.
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My girls received a mesh tote from Insect Lore one Christmas. Along with the tote, they received a card to send in when they were ready for the caterpillars. They don’t come with the initial purchase because the weather has to be warm enough for the butterflies to survive when they emerge.
Once we received our cup of caterpillars, it was time for hands-on science!
This Butterfly Study printable for middle school will help you chart the life cycle of your caterpillars & butterflies as well as guide your research.
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We had never been close to these animals for such a long time before and we enjoyed watching them eat and grow. Every day the girls charted their growth and some days they seemed to grow exponentially!
Once they had eaten enough and grown quite large, we watched as they attached themselves to the top of the cup within a chrysalis. Eventually we saw the chrysalises begin to wiggle and we knew that it was almost time for them to emerge.
This was our opportunity to closely watch a caterpillar’s metamorphosis. When they emerged, we had beautiful Painted Lady butterflies! We were fortunate that every caterpillar transformed into a butterfly.
We kept the tote on the school table so the kids could watch them every day. Even our cats were riveted by these fluttering creatures.
One of the butterflies came out with shriveled wings, which my kids named “Squiggy.” This provided the perfect opportunity for us to do further research about why his wings were different and what that meant for his survival. They took special care of him and to this day they still talk about that butterfly.
One of our favorite things to sit and watch was feeding time. It was fascinating watching the proboscis dart in and out of the oranges we gave them.
Finally, it was release day, which was definitely bittersweet. On the one hand, we were proud that we had raised these creatures that were now ready to go off into the world. But we really loved learning about them and watching them so closely. We would miss them.
Additional Butterfly Activities
- Surround yourself with living books to learn everything you can about butterflies. See how the butterflies you are raising are different from others you have seen. Don’t just compare the butterflies, but also learn about the different caterpillars as well as their chrysalises.
- Add in some art by sketching this process in your nature journal. Take advantage of fact that you have these amazing creatures right in front of you.
- Before you are ready to release your butterflies, take some time to create a butterfly garden in your yard and maybe they’ll stick around. Add plants that your butterflies enjoy. It’s easy to do and it’s a great way to have your yard filled with butterflies throughout the season.
- Check out Butterflies Flutter By by Cindy West and Melissa Leach for lots of other notebooking pages and hands-on activity ideas.
Don’t forget to grab our Butterfly Study! It’s a great tool to help guide your learning and an easy way to record all of your findings.
My kids found so much joy in each step of this science experiment. It is one of our studies that they talk about regularly and ask to do again.
Has your family ever raised butterflies?