Raising butterflies with kids is such a fun Spring activity to do at home or in the classroom. Here are some fun ways to set up a butterfly observation zone.
One of our very favorite Spring activities is raising butterflies and setting up an observation station at home to witness the metamorphosis of caterpillar to butterfly. There are a few different tools and resources that make this an easy setup that provides tons of fun and learning for kids.
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Raising Butterflies with an Observation Station
I am so happy with how our first major project for raising butterflies turned out! To witness the transformations that occur in the butterfly life cycle, we set up an area in our house where we could become scientists, exploring the shape, size and texture of the coolest larva around 🙂
We name this designated area in our house our Butterfly Observation Station, a fun name for toddlers and preschoolers!
What you need to observe the butterfly life cycle:
Live caterpillars – we order these each year from Insect Lore, they even have a fun Very Hungry Caterpillar set if you like!
Butterfly life cycle figurines
Round tray or plate
Butterfly observation booklet – free on Teachers Pay Teachers
Setting Up the Observation Station
Designate a space on your table for all of your tools and resources while raising butterflies with kids. We write the words ‘Butterfly Observation Station’ on the poser board and taped some great printables and a song from Teachers Pay Teachers as well. We can’t wait to watch them grow and become chrysalises!
In a small container were the life cycle figurines, another container help pencils, a ruler and a magnifying glass, and the booklet was left on the table for recording observations.
What should I observe in the butterfly life cycle?
The beginning on the life cycle starts with the egg, however, when you receive your jar of caterpillars they will already be hatched and ready to watch grow.
Each day, your child can observe the growth that has occurred by measuring and recording the length as they crawl along the side of the jar.
You can also observe how they eat the food on the bottom of the jar, it’s difficult to see in ‘real-time’ but with each passing day you might see how more of the food is gone, and the caterpillars are larger. A caterpillars main job is to eat, and eat, and eat!
Watch as they create their chrysalis, and then emerge as beautiful butterflies!
How can I encourage play in the observation station while raising butterflies?
Since most of the observing of the caterpillars is done through sight and takes weeks, children will be eager to find a hands-on way of exploring that which they are witnessing.
The life cycle figurines are great for demonstrating and understanding the sequence of the butterfly life cycle. On a round tray, tape the numbers 1-4 and show children how they can place the toys in sequential order according to the butterfly life cycle on the tray.
These also make a great addition to a butterfly life cycle sensory bin which you can make with colored pasta. This pasta can be used in crafting and play!
We have also made our own set of butterfly life cycle toys from a recycled egg carton that children can play with while observing their caterpillar growth as well.
When should I release my butterflies?
You have observed and appreciated the metamorphosis of watching your caterpillar turn into a butterfly, and now it’s time to watch them fly! This is an exciting day, but there are a few things you need to know when planning their release.
Butterflies are cold blooded and must warm their muscles before flying. Release your butterflies on a warm day, 55 degrees or higher, and allow them to warm up their muscles by keeping their enclosure outside in a sunny spot to warm up, while keeping them safe from predators.
We love to make butterfly feeders and plant flowers that our butterflies like, with the hope that they will stick around and visit us 🙂
Butterfly Life Cycle Books for Kids
Place a basket of books about butterflies in the observation station as well for even more learning and fun. Some of our favorites are: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, From Caterpillar to Butterfly, and The Life Cycle of a Butterfly.
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