Last year we planted an Asclepia, the host plant of the Monarch Butterfly, in one of the flowerbeds in the playground. We waited and waited, hoping we could see caterpillars and butterflies but we were not lucky…
This year, the “pillbugs and dragonflies” (5 year olds) started the year learning about minibeasts and to our surprise we found our Asclepia, which grew a lot during the summer holidays, full of caterpillars!!
The children started observing the caterpillars eating the leaves of the plant and they realized that the lines on their bodies follow a pattern in white, yellow and black. One day the children discovered that the caterpillars had disappeared and they found a pupa hanging from one of the branches of the plant. It was green and looked like a part of the plant.
It was time to cover the plant to be able to see the butterflies before letting them fly away.
The following day the children discovered that the pupa had turn black.
Finally we found two butterflies in our homemade net cage! They were trying to get out desperately! While the children chanted: “free the monarchs, free the monarchs!” we helped them fly away from the cage. At that moment, two butterflies approached the net and started flying around it. The children decided that they were friends of “our” butterflies and were waiting to get together out of the net cage.
This was an excellent start for our project! Visit us soon to watch us learn about the life cycle of the monarch butterfly!