Posts Tagged ‘caterpillar’

A Very Hungry Caterpillar Project

March 29, 2010

Using construction paper, egg cartons, coffee filters, and your recycled “junk” bin or craft bin, your child can take a butterfly all the way from egg to wings.

We cut out leaves and glued puffy balls on as caterpillar eggs, but my daughter’s friend used a green feather as a leaf and your child could use anything they want as an egg (crumpled up aluminum foil?)  Next, the kids created caterpillars from egg cartons I helped them cut up.  They used tissue paper, pipe cleaners and googly eyes, but it would work just as well to use markers if you don’t have art supplies!  They taped paper into a cone to make a chrysalis and made butterflies from coffee filters and paper and corks.  I’m not giving specific directions because this project is all about imagination.

When they were finished, the kids tucked their butterflies into the cocoons, put the caterpillars in next to them, and pretended the butterflies were hatching out.  They thought it was pretty cool, but making them was the best part.  If you have the book “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle, these would make great props so your child could act out the story as you read it! 

 

It’s also a great way to teach them about metamorphosis.   Have fun!

Monarch Season

August 5, 2009

met⋅a⋅mor⋅pho⋅sis

–noun, plural -ses 
  Biology. a profound change in form from one stage to the next in the life history of an organism, as from the caterpillar to the pupa and from the pupa to the adult butterfly
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There are few things more magical than watching a caterpillar turn into a chrysalis and then a butterfly.   This is a great time of year to find monarch caterpillars on milkweed!  Not only is it fascinating to observe metamorphosis, it is a great opportunity to have your child create some fantastic artwork.

Take your child to a park, or a farm, or even look in the weeds by your local gas station and search for some milkweed.  (See photo below.)  Look carefully on the plants, and there’s a good chance you’ll find a Monarch caterpillar like the one my daughter is watching at in the photo at the top of this page.  Carefully take the caterpillar and plenty of milkweed with you and put them in a large see-through container.  We used an old plastic pretzel container, but a large jar or Tupperware container would work too.   Just make sure you punch air holes!  I put the milkweed in a little vase with water to keep it alive, but a friend told me you can put the leaves between damp paper towels and keep them in the fridge, getting them out when you need fresh ones. 

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Last year, I planted milkweed in our garden in hopes of getting caterpillars right in our own backyard and it worked!  Plant some this fall or next spring if you want your own butterfly garden.  It’s a great way to help the butterfly population.

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Once you have your caterpillar, all you have to do is make sure it has plenty of leaves to eat.  Occasionally, have your child dump out the caterpillar poop, of which there is a surprising amount.  Get out your child’s science notebook or just some paper and ask them to draw the caterpillar and the milkweed.  When it is ready to form a chrysalis, the caterpillar will hang upside down and look like the letter J.  They can draw that, the chrysalis, and finally, the beautiful  butterfly that emerges!   Have them write the word metamorphosis in their notebooks. (It’s a great word.)

A few years ago, my kids and I were lucky enough to see the caterpillar turn into a chrysalis.  It only takes a few seconds and is easy to miss, but it is truely amazing.  If you and your child are lucky and patient, you may see it too.  If you miss it, look on line and you can probably find a slow motion video of it.  You can also look up a picture of a Monarch’s egg.

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There’s nothing like taking the lid off your butterfly house and watching your Monarch soar away.  It’s a great moment to share with your own little caterpillar.