Releasing Painted Lady Butterflies in Kindergarten

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Here is the next step in investigating painted lady butterflies in kindergarten. I previously laid out how I like to order the larva and my tips for investigating and allowing them to grow. This is the last section of the three part series.

Ordering and setting this unit up
Investigating and housing the larva and pupa

Releasing Painted Lady Butterflies in Kindergarten

Our butterflies have emerged and we’ve observed them for days. Here’s what happens next.

Releasing Painted Lady Butterflies in Kindergarten

We try to find a butterfly once they have emerged that has crumpled wings.

It’s a great connection piece to discussing the “useless as wet paper” wings as mentioned in the story Stellaluna. This butterfly becomes our main specimen.

The other butterflies stay in their dome for regular observation. I allow students time to observe as they walk by without too much hindrance during the day.

Our main specimen gets to help us observe the parts of the body up close under our document camera since he is less likely to fly away. We observe the hairy abdomen, eyes, antennae and proboscis.

I will also take out a more regular butterfly that seems calm {but always share my expectations of remaining still if it flutters away} and we observe the wings and color patterns.

How to Do a Painted Lady Butterfly Unit in Kindergarten

This part of our observation always affirms that they are indeed painted lady butterflies and I will also sit everyone in a circle and walk slowly past as the get to see the top and underside of the wings and the body up close.

As we move onto writing about our observations, I do a detailed drawing as a model which most of them attempt to follow.

How to Do a Painted Lady Butterfly Unit in Kindergarten

While we have them we feed them fierce grape Gatorade in a shallow bowl that has a plastic sponge to keep them from drowning.

I pick a butterfly (whose wings were developed not so perfectly and make it less likely to fly away) and put it onto the sponge. We observe it on the sponge to see how it uses its proboscis (tongue).

How to Do a Painted Lady Butterfly Unit in Kindergarten

There comes a time when the butterflies have to be released. Normally they can live slightly longer than a week in our classroom habitat and lay eggs.

Now, when we are ready to release them… it seriously takes about 45 mins. to get everyone a butterfly, take a snapshot close up (like you see below) and actually out the door to release them.

How to Do a Painted Lady Butterfly Unit in Kindergarten

But, for this day, I don’t mind climbing the walls to capture the fly-aways and return them to their rightful owners (reminds me of the first few days of herding cats in kindergarten). It’s worth it for the smiles of awe.

And as we depart outside, I watch through a camera screen as little ones hold onto, chase down, stare in wonder at their beloved creatures of flight.

How to Raise Painted Lady Butterflies in Kindergarten

I mentally start the process of releasing of “my” kinders as they truly are ready to fly away too. {to first grade, that is}

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6 Comments

  1. SO many great details in this blog post! I love the book Stellaluna and think it’s great you are connecting to fictional literature while doing nonfiction work! Your pictures are fabulous. I’m your newest follower!

    1. Thanks Stacey for your compliments – we try to see connections in everything we do. From day one we talk about “reading is thinking!” So glad to have you with us here on KindergartenWorks!
      – Leslie

  2. Do they really lay eggs in your net? Where at? I have not seen that before. Do the eggs ever hatch for you?

    And I love the symbolism of release in your post. Just beautiful.

    1. Hey Tamara, they sure do! They actually lay eggs all over the netting which is pretty cool. They usually hatch, but then I always seem to forget to save a bit of the extra food to feed them. Maybe next year 😉 Thanks!
      – Leslie

  3. Such a beautiful post Leslie. I’m sure you have prepared your Kinders very well for flight!

    Seemi @ Trillium Montessori

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