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Classroom Butterflies


Can butterflies be raised in your classroom?   Of course, they can.  Butterfly farmers have raised butterflies to be released at receptions, dedications, and other special events.  They will be happy to send you a crop of your very own to raise, observe, test, and release.  There is a fee involved, ranging from $8.00 for a few caterpillars and supplies, to $45.00 for a school kit.  The school kit provides caterpillars, mashed food, and containers to house about 30 caterpillars.  This will allow your students to adopt their very own. 

Do you have problems with financial resources? Finding things that crawl is a natural forte for most children, so why not utilize it?  It can be a homework assignment at the appropriate time of year for your area.  Provide each child with the knowledge on how to handle the creatures, what they prefer to eat, (usually identifiable by their immediate environment,)  and a disposable cup with a lid, and they can bring your classroom an interesting variety. 

If these caterpillars are an assortment captured in the wild, the children will be bringing in both moths and butterflies.   With moth/butterfly reference books, the students will be able to guess what type insect they have captured, and be able to do a self-assessment when the adult moth/butterfly emerges.  

Daily observation logs can allow you opportunities to insert scientific questions.  Requiring answers to these questions will give your students the nudge to do some research on their own.  The logs will also improve their scientific observation and general communication skills.

The sixth grade class at Holy Redeemer School raised 30 Painted Lady Butterflies.  The caterpillars were air shipped, arriving at a mere 5 - 7 mm. in length.  With a soft bristled paint brush, the caterpillars were transferred into 2 oz. clear plastic cups with lids.  The caterpillars ate the green leaf mulch which was added to the cups before introducing the larva.  The food, cups, lids, and even the soft brush were provided in the kit. 

Scientific observation logs kept by the students provided opportunities to learn about life processes, anatomical structures, functions, and appropriate vocabulary terms.  Once this background has been set, experimentation and further study opportunities will abound.

The lesson will explore whether or not butterflies have a preference for color.


Project Author: Ann Finch

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