Science Sunday: Caterpillars and Butterflies


I was so tempted to make a reference to one of my favorite songs as a kid, but I don’t think anyone would really get a reference to the song “Bullfrogs and Butterflies.” Oh, the travails of growing up listening to silly Christian music as a kid and getting it stuck in my head.
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In case you can’t tell I like to go on the occasional nature walk with the kiddos.  This particular one about two months ago I was sick as could be and was so dizzy I was stopping every few minutes to sit and not pass out.  So, that part I wasn’t enjoying, but the cool part was all the caterpillars we found.  Especially because we were not so patiently waiting for ours to come in the mail.

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Our first caterpillar we found was black and pointy and he didn’t look very friendly, and he was fast.  Seriously, I have never seen a caterpillar move that fast.
We took a moment to talk about this caterpillar and why he looks like this.  We decided he looked like that to help him keep birds and other things from eating him.

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This guy is a little harder to see, and a lot more blurry.  Partially because I was having a hard time getting a picture of him.  The kids all agreed he looked like that so we would think he was part of the tree.  It was great to see them making connections between what we read and the real world.

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Of course the kids favorite part came as we were leaving and they got to play in a bit of a marsh type of area and get all wet, much to our chagrin.

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Then they happily had fun pointing out they had left footprints and tracks.

Now, fast forward two weeks, I swear those caterpillars really took their time getting there, it was almost a month after I’d mailed in the coupon.  And our mailman came to the door with this:
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The caterpillars proudly took up a place of prominence on our kitchen table, and we watched in amazement as the caterpillars grew bigger and bigger.  It was a common site during that time to come into the kitchen to see at least one of the kids staring at the caterpillars and trying to touch them.

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After A LOT OF patience for a five year old the butterflies finally emerged from their chrysalis. 

Of course they emerged on a morning we had to hurry off and couldn’t spend as much time as they wanted observing the new butterflies, but they happily watched them that night and sat there and poked the butterflies to make them fly.  And of course dragged their Dad over to see the butterflies.

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054And until I was trying to get pictures of them for this post, I had never truly realized how incredibly hard it is to get a picture of a butterfly.  Really and truly hard.

Finally, once all the butterflies had emerged we went outside to let them go.

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Which apparently is super exciting, especially for Superman who convinced one of the butterflies to get on his hand and then fly away. (Superman is in the middle in his “Blue Arrow” shirt).
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And we finished it up with feeling what the chrysalis felt like without the butterfly in it.  It reminded me a little bit of paper or maybe onion skin in appearance.  I never got to touch it because the kids were so busy fighting over who got to touch.

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I don’t know if you can tell, but we had fun observing the oranges they ate from.  There was little black dots all over the orange.  But, we’re not sure what they are.  We’ll find out soon enough I’m sure.

And here’s some butterfly links I have clipped to Evernote:
Learning Table– book list
The Work Plan– I love her try to eat like a butterfly, and that’s going to be a basis for a future Science Sunday.
Spell Out Loud– compilation of stuff
Along the Way-there’s links to several of her projects specifically, I love her butterfly life cycle craft
Handmade Beginnings– Eric Carle stuff
Silly Eagle Books– book list
Homeschool Creations– she included lots of great links to some fun worksheets

I have a lot more saved, but those are more of craft projects, and I wanted to stick to ones that had some science connection.

As a side note, a cool project that we didn’t end up doing this time, but would be interesting is making a mosaic.  Butterfly wings are like mosaics because their wings have all sorts of little “tiles” on them making up their wings. That is why when you touch their wing you get powder on your finger.

I can’t wait to see what you guys did this past week.

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18 thoughts on “Science Sunday: Caterpillars and Butterflies

  1. Oh, and one more thing – since I now have Bullfrogs and Butterflies stuck in my head – right back at you with my favorite – Be patient. Be patient. Don't be in such a hurry – hope you enjoy singing it for the rest of day 🙂

  2. We had those black spots on our oranges too and I couldn't find an answer so I am looking forward to reading what you find out. I wondered if it was just mold since I couldn't find anything about it.

  3. I did the butterfly/caterpillar thing with my son a year or two ago. He had a lot of fun.

    Unfortunately when we let them go a few birds ate the butterflies lol! Oh well…that's nature for ya!

  4. We did the butterflies recently as well. We really enjoyed observing them – especially watching them eat.

    If you ever decide to do it again, you can order the caterpillars directly online. It saves the time in the mail.

  5. I grew up with Psalty too! A few years back my mom bought us all the CD's. The original voice of Psalty remixed the tracks for CD quality. Now my kids are enjoying Psalty too.

  6. So I watched the video of the caterpillar only I didn't read that it was about a caterpillar. I was looking at the object behind the catepillar the whole time. I had no clue what it was and was actually thinking to myself, “What is she videoing here?” Then I saw the comment above the video. I guess next time I should read before I view!

  7. For some reason I have never seen caterpillars here in Silicon Valley, and butterflies are quite rare too. It's pretty neat that your kids got to observe them both in nature and in their own kitchen. I doubt that I will be raising butterflies at home though, I'll leave something to school science after all 🙂

  8. My sister and I chased down all the Agapeland music for our own kids… Now my girls are listening to Music Machine… I have Antshillvania put away for later. And I've started them on Psalty too.

    Good fun! (I sing more than they do!)

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