At the end of April tiny little caterpillars arrived at our school. Teacher Liz and I filled small individual vials with special food for each caterpillar and left them on a tray. We carefully chose a warm location at the preschool to keep them at a perfect temperature.
For the next few weeks we brought the caterpillars out at circle time to see the progress they had made each day. Slowly they went from being tiny little caterpillars to big ones, and they built webs at the top of the vials preparing for the next phase of their journey.
A caterpillar was sent home with each of the children in the 4’s class, and the rest of the caterpillars remained at the preschool for daily observations. Once the caterpillars were fully grown they climbed to the top of the vials and hung upside down from the lid in a ‘J’ shape to form a chrysalis. Teacher Liz gently transferred the chrysalis to their new habitat by placing the lids on an old magnolia branch.
The next few days were filled with excitement and lots of patience. Each day during circle time we checked on the hanging chrysalis. We sang songs about butterflies. We told stories about butterflies. We dressed up as butterflies. And we waited. Patiently. While the caterpillars that had gone home with the children in the 4’s class had transformed into chrysalis and emerged as butterflies, the ones at the preschool were still in their chrysalis.
One rainy morning Teacher Liz and I took the 4’s class for a walk to gather moss, flowers, and fresh leaves for our butterfly habitat in hopes that it would encourage the chrysalis at the preschool to transform. After being in their chrysalis for almost two weeks the first butterflies emerged!
The children were thrilled and each day a few more butterflies appeared in the habitat. We cut oranges in half to feed them and we opened the butterfly habitat to let a select few out to explore. During the first few circle times the butterflies were very docile. Some jumped around, but most would stay still on tiny little excited hands and arms.
As the butterflies got stronger and older they became braver and attempted to take flight. On a beautiful sunny day during circle time in the 3’s class we released them. We sang a goodbye song and wished them a happy journey ahead as they flew away.
A season of loneliness and isolation is when the caterpillar gets its wings. Remember that next time you feel alone.Mandy Hale