I know that many teachers like to hatch butterflies. I LOVE it! I buy my caterpillars from Insect Lore. Now that I have the pop-up habitat, I order the large classroom refill kit. I am so afraid of not having enough butterflies actually hatch, I want to be sure I have more than enough. I let each student transfer the caterpillar into the little cups, then we watch and wait. Sooo everyone gets to move a caterpillar, have their own to observe, and there are enough to make up for the ones I might kill (although to be honest I have never had any troubles hatching. I loose maybe 1 or 2).
What makes me different is what I do next. When all the butterflies have hatched I put up a small pop-up screen porch. My little tent has no floor, screening on each side, and because it pops-up....it is super easy to put up. We have a quiet grassy area at my school (we call it our outdoor education area, but it is mostly used for outside reading time and special activities). Inside my tent I put some flower baskets (later they sit on my own front porch) and I slice oranges to feed the butterflies. Two or three students can go in the tent at a time. Once inside they can try to get the butterflies to land on their finger and observe them closely.
My second and third graders liked to try to gently place the butterflies on their faces. My kinders last year were a little more timid. We spend time watching from the outside, taking turns inside, writing, reading, and drawing about the butterflies before turning them loose (about a week that usually stretches into two).
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