Hatching butterflies is a wonderful science project that teaches kids about life cycles, as well as other skills such as research and responsibility. If you are interested in trying this with your child, here are a few tips to help you pull it off smoothly.
Planning for Your Butterflies
Researching and planning is a fun and important part of this learning experience, so be sure to use it to engage your child. Together you can research what butterflies are native to your area and where you can order them in the caterpillar stage. Be sure to also find out what they like to eat in each stage. You don’t want to offer your guests the wrong food!
Building the Habitat
Mesh butterfly habitats are available for purchase, most of which are built with wire so that you can collapse them to save space when the project is over. If you want to involve your child with every step of the process, though, you might choose instead to build the habitat together.
Use a piece of plywood for the base. A frame for a simple cover can be built from slim pieces of wood. Others choose to make a teepee-shaped frame so that it can be collapsed once the project is over. Just make sure you make the frame big enough so that the butterflies have enough space! Use a staple gun to cover the frame in nylon mesh, keeping it snug so that there are no gaps where butterflies could escape and to allow you to see easily into the habitat. The cover can be lifted to allow you into the enclosure, or you can fashion an access panel that can be opened and closed to avoid disturbing any chrysalises attached to the side.
Preparing the Habitat for Butterflies
Prepare the habitat for your caterpillars by scattering twigs and leaves over the bottom. Be sure to include an upside-down lid with a little water in it, and spray the enclosure with a mist periodically. Before the caterpillars go into the chrysalis stage, they will need food, so be sure to research what leaves and grasses your caterpillars may prefer. About 10 days after they go into their chrysalises, just before they hatch, you can add an-upside down lid of sugar water, some fresh local flowers, and a few pieces of fruit to the enclosure for the butterflies.
Releasing the Butterflies
Once your child has enjoyed the butterflies for a couple of days, it’s time to release them into the garden to let them breed and lay their eggs. If this project is planned enough in advance, you can be sure to have some tempting plants waiting for them in your garden.
Cultivating a Love of Learning
Engaging kids in fun, comprehensive projects such as researching and hatching butterflies, is a great way to inspire their interest in science and nature. Montessori education incorporates hands-on, self-directed learning into every lesson. This allows students to engage with the subject being taught through an interactive activity. For more information about the kinds of projects we do in our classrooms, schedule a tour of Mission Valley Montessori today.
This article originally appeared on Mission Valley Montessori’s blog.