Monday, 5 May 2014

Part 1: A hands-on Study about Butterflies

A few weeks ago we found some butterfly wings while we were on our morning nature walk. This started a curiosity in butterflies so you can image our excitement when we found a caterpillar. Our caterpillar however, turned out to be a moth but we got to observe the Life Cycle of a Moth, which is similar to the butterfly. So I thought I would share some of the hands-on ways that we have used to learn about butterflies. 
After finding the butterfly wings, we started noticing butterflies everywhere. Although most of Australia is heading into autumn, the top end of Australia is having the dry season, so we are having lovely warm weather, kind of like spring and perfect for butterflies.

As we were watching the caterpillar grow (which turned in a moth), we stared our learning by looking at the butterfly life cycle. I downloaded these FREE Life Cycle of a Butterfly nomenclature cards from The Helpful Garden and used the butterfly and caterpillar figurines we had from our My Animal Kingdom set. 
Together with the cards, we read about the butterfly life cycle from a range of different books. Picture books like The Butterfly by Anna Milbourne and Cathy Shimmen, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle and Ten Loopy Caterpillars by Joy Cowley, were fantastic books for my children to listen to and for my young daughters to get involved with the learning (affiliated links).

The easy reader books like Born to Be a Butterfly by Karen Wallace, and From Caterpillar to Butterfly by Melvin and Gilda Berger, were perfect for my son so he could read the information independently. Other books that we used were the information books My, Oh My--A Butterfly!: All about Butterflies by Tish Rabe and All about butterflies book from the My Animal Kingdom set (affiliated links).
We then looked at the different parts of a butterfly. I downloaded these FREE parts of a butterfly nomenclature cards from Tired, Need Sleep blog. My son used play dough to form each of the different parts of the butterfly using the cards as a reference.
It was by now that our caterpillar had built himself a cocoon and had hatched into a moth. So my son wanted to know what the differences between a butterfly and a moth was. I put this Venn diagram together so my son could research the difference between the butterfly and a moth, and what is the same about them. You can download a copy of this diagram from here.
While we were doing our maths learning one morning, we noticed butterflies dancing around the flowering bush out the front of our window. I had previously purchased my son a butterfly garden (pictured below) from our local Australia Post and this encourage an up close observation of butterflies that we called catch, observe and release.
Each morning on our nature walk, we started noticing the same types of butterflies and this lead us to research more about them. We caught this black butterfly, that we later learnt was a Common Crow butterfly, to observe and research.
My son started his researching by observing this butterfly that he had caught and looking closely at its features and colours. He used google (on the ipad) to search for information on this type of butterfly. In his research, my son discovered the name of this butterfly and what particular flowers it liked. He also drew a picture of the butterfly that we had caught.
Another butterfly that we saw a lot of was this one, the Lime Swallowtail butterfly. We ended up catching it so we could observe it and research more about it. We have seem many of these beautiful butterflies in our garden and we were lucky enough to capture it sipping the it sipping nectar from our flowers. 
As well as catching, observing and releasing butterflies, we also found butterflies that had already died. We found this Lime Swallowtail butterfly in a tree and although it was missing its hind wings, it was still beautiful to see the different parts of its body, such as the antennae and the proboscis. Isn't it stunning!
Our butterfly learning has not finished by a long shot! Just this morning my children have been busy catching butterflies, identifying them and looking for butterfly eggs. To encourage my children to continue their interest-led learning on butterflies, I have purchased some field guides (still waiting for them to arrive in the mail!) to help us identify more butterflies easily. I will share these field guides (for Australian butterflies) and the nomenclature cards I am preparing on Australian butterfly types and share these with you in an upcoming blog post. Be sure to find me on Facebook and Instagram to follow our journey. 

If you would like to see more butterfly and other life cycle activity ideas, be sure to visit my Life Cycles  and Zoology boards.

This blog post has been linked up with: Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop


  1. Wow, I love your study on butterflies. It's perfect for the summer months. Did you need to plant flowers to attract butterflies for the butterfly garden to work?

  2. What a great roundup of resources! I'm filing these away to use with my kids in a few weeks.

    Thanks for linking up with The Thoughtful Spot!

  3. I think the work here looks excellent!