The butterfly lifecycle has become our first big project. From the arrival of our caterpillars, through the full lifecycle and after our butterflies had been set free, it’s been a big feature of Max and Amelie’s play and we’ve done lots of things that have helped them explore their interest further.
We have read lots of books, both fiction and non-fiction. We’ve watched The Hungry Caterpillar on DVD too – Amelie’s face when the butterfly popped out of its cocoon was a picture, she was completely enchanted!
I set up a provocation when the cocoons appeared, to help them explore what they had learnt a little further and to try to find out where their interests would lead next. Here we have:
- finger puppet caterpillars and butterflies
- plastic models of the butterfly lifecycle
- felt flowers and leaves
- artificial flowers, snipped off their stems
Amelie really loved the felt flowers so I made some more for her – she uses them for all sorts of things at the moment.
After the butterflies were gone the children continued to talk about them, so I made a little book about their butterflies and set up a new provocation. As well as the book, I put out:
- laminated photo cards of the different lifecycle stages
- different-coloured paint swatches on a ring (thanks to Kate for this inspired idea!)
- the plastic lifecycle models
- magnifying glasses
- clipboard with paper and pencils
Amelie was really keen to draw: “I’m going to draw a Painted Lady!” She’d even remembered the name of the butterflies! They have access to paper and writing/drawing materials all the time but I added them here as a bit of a suggestion alongside the butterfly pictures.
Max is increasingly interested in building more complex constructions with blocks. Together we made a house for the caterpillars and butterflies.
They know a lot about butterflies now. Things I’ve heard them say include, “you’re not a butterfly yet, you’re still in your ‘coon (cocoon)!” (Max) and “here you are butterfly, here’s some nectar in your flower for you” (Amelie). But more than that, it’s been a vehicle for them to develop lots of new skills in different areas: construction, drawing, reading, baking, matching and sorting, role play – the list is endless!
It’s been great fun watching and listening to their play and deciding what to offer them next to explore. This is the kind of learning I love for young children – led by them and planned in response to what they show you that they know and are interested in.
A new project is starting to emerge now and I can’t wait to explore it with them!