Nature, Science/Math

Spring Project Update

The caterpillars are here!

They survived an overnight on our porch (I forgot to check for delivery…ooops!) They also endured a trip to Cooper’s school yesterday where the curious preschoolers crowded around and watched them eat and eat and eat.

Growing butterflies has proved to be a bit of an emotional roller coaster, however. So far this morning, only one of our five caterpillars is eating, and he’s markedly bigger than the others. I’m not sure what might have happened overnight. Uh oh! This may require a second effort, perhaps one where I remember to check the porch for packages.

We continue to water our seeds and keep them in the windowsill. So far, no sprouts, but I’m crossing my fingers.

Homeschool, Nature, Outside, Science/Math

Eagerly awaiting very hungry caterpillars

Yesterday was the first day of spring. This year, I’m working hard to make sure we have lots of spring fun. Aside from our seed-related activities, I’ve ordered painted lady caterpillars from Insect Lore. Choosing among ladybugs, butterflies and ants was tough, but butterflies definitely offer the most drama.

So, here’s the deal. Insect Lore is shipping us caterpillars in a cup with special food. The caterpillars should feed, molt and grow for about a week. (Did you know, caterpillars molt? As they grown they burst out of their skin, revealing the new skin underneath. Eric Carle never mentioned that one.) Then they should build a chrysalis and transform into butterflies within about a week.

Our kit includes a special butterfly-net habitat so we can feed and watch the butterflies for a couple of days before we release them into our backyard. I’ve already double-checked to make sure painted ladies will survive in our area. I know from research I’m doing for a book that some butterflies are very picky eaters. Monarchs stick to milkweed. Karner Blues love only lupine.

The boys are excited. One of their Nature’s Miracles books is called Once There Was a Caterpillar. We’ve read it over and over to learn about the caterpillar life cycle: eggs, caterpillar, pupa (in a chrysalis), butterfly. As I’ve noted before, I love this series because each book contains ideas for talking with your children about the subject. as well as activity suggestions, books to read and useful Web sites.

Do you have any spring activities on your agenda? How do you celebrate the arrival of sunshine, warmth and new life?