Posted on: Thu, October 11, 2018 at 10:20
On the first day of school, the children were greeted by the tiniest of caterpillars munching on milkweed in a mason jar. Our classroom caterpillar inspired our recent study of butterflies, which incorporated science, mathematics, language, art, and even influenced our play. Whenever possible, we integrate our curricula for a richer learning experience. In our introductory Circle, we read Eric Carle’s The Hungry Caterpillar. Through prose and colorful illustrations, The Hungry Caterpillar follows a butterfly from its humble start as an egg, to a growing caterpillar, then a transformative chrysalis, and finally to a beautiful butterfly.
This tale provided an introduction to the concepts of metamorphosis and life cycles. The children recreated the metamorphosis of the Hungry Caterpillar through several art projects. They began by modeling play dough into small balls to represent eggs. Next, with a magnifying glass in hand, they used their powers of observation to note our caterpillar’s black, yellow, and white stripes. Afterward, from a bucket of colorful beads, they sorted out the black, yellow, and white beads and strung them onto pipe cleaners.
Activities such as this encourage children to recognize, re-create, and generate patterns, which help to build a foundation for problemsolving and mathematical thinking. After creating their caterpillars, the children painted watercolor paper that was then cut to resemble butterflies. These simple projects helped to acquaint the children with some of the materials in our classroom. After our butterfly hatched overnight and was released the following day, the children donned colorful silk wings and danced around the schoolyard to mimic her flight. When we gathered at Circle that day, the kids passionately expressed their astonishment about the caterpillar’s metamorphosis. They were reminded that they are also growing and changing in some remarkable ways. I consider myself truly lucky to get to witness their growth every day!
By Julia Maury
Small School Teacher