While on a walk with my Kindergarten class, we noticed caterpillars crawling on the tree leaves. Some of my SK friends remembered that in the previous year we observed the Caterpillar to Butterfly Life Cycle and they enjoyed being able to watch as the caterpillars changed in each stage. The JK’s also asked if they could explore this activity, as they were excited to hear about the experience shared by the SK’s. When we returned to class, we brainstormed what we currently know about caterpillars and what we would like to discover.
As an educator, I asked myself, “How can I use this as a learning opportunity? What can the children use as a learning tool to help them establish skills and knowledge that reflect the Ontario Ministry of Education, Kindergarten Program?” I was able to see that this inquiry was related to my Pedagogy and Philosophy, in that I was responsible for encouraging the children to use their exploration and investigation skills as a learning opportunity to assist their development.
To start our inquiry on the Caterpillar to Butterfly Life Cycle, I was in contact with Boreal Science, a company that supplies materials and provides support for science related subjects. I purchased the Ward’s® Painted Lady Butterflies kit, which includes:
- Pop-up butterfly pavilion
- 30 live larvae
- 30 small cups with lids for watching development
- 100g. powdered media (caterpillar food) with instructions
- Plastic spoon to mix and prepare the media
- Paint brush for transferring larvae
I placed all the items on the science table, ready for the children on Monday morning, and set a variety of literacy materials such as books, clay, clipboards with paper, and writing/drawing tools to support their learning.
When the children came into class in the morning, they ran to the science table and started asking questions such as “What is this?”, “Why are there little black dots inside this cup?”,”Can we open it?”. My teaching partner and I gathered all the children to the carpet and answered their questions. “These are our new friends – our kindergarten caterpillars – and this is their home, and the food that they eat.” Together, we started moving the caterpillars into small cups, filled them halfway with a mixture of food, and poked holes in the lids for air flow. As the days went by, we watched as the tiny caterpillars grew bigger and bigger, until they were big enough to crawl to the top of the lids and hang in their chrysalis.
Throughout the caterpillars growing period, we documented the number of days we thought it would take for them to go into their chrysalis and pop out as a butterfly. Boreal Science gave us a timeline of 14 to 26 days for the full life cycle, which gave the children excitement, as each day, when they came to school, they could mark the progress on the calendar. We found great books from the school library to incorporate into our inquiry, including some of the titles Ten Little Caterpillars, National Geographic Readers: Caterpillar to Butterfly, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. These books shared a variety of new words that we were learning and used to identify and write the stage of the Life Cycle, as well as drew pictures and compare similarities and differences of each caterpillar, and answer questions such as “Why do some caterpillars turn into moths and other butterflies?” and “Why does this caterpillar have spikes but this one is fluffy?”. To further the learning we incorporated caterpillars in a majority of our activities throughout the day. My favourite activity was sitting with everyone on the carpet and read the book Butterfly Garden by Margaret McNamara which tells the story of when a special package arrives in
Mrs. Connor’s Miss Usher’s class and everyone is eager to find out what’s in it, as I read the story I changed the names of the characters to familiar names in our class which got the children excited as they soon discovered their names being said and the similarities to the events that have been happening in our class. While working in focused groups I was able to sit down with friends and use the iPad to document their learning using Seesaw and the drawing setting:
This blended learning activity allowed myself and my students a new way to explore the teaching curriculum and provide a alternative way of learning. The children were able to demonstrate their knowledge on the Caterpillar to Butterfly Life Cycle inquiry by communicating and sharing their findings with peers and teachers from the investigation and use illustrations to support their learning. (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2016). When we returned to school after the long weekend we saw the most beautiful butterflies had come out of their chrysalis and talked to the children about what they may want to eat. We gave them cut up oranges and sugar water to feed them and make them strong so that they would be ready to set free into their new world.
The children were eager to observe the caterpillars during each stage of the Life Cycle and excited to share their learning by using a variety of materials such as drawings, writing, pictures, videos, clay creations, and dance. While my teaching partner and I were able to further the learning by going on walks in the community and discussing other Life Cycles such as ducks and frogs. Overall I feel this inquiry experience was a great learning opportunity for everyone, myself included. I was able to try new technological learning tools and blend traditional teaching with technology by using iPads for research, documentation and communication 👍🏼
Ontario Ministry of Education. (2016). The Kindergarten Program. Retrieved from https://files.ontario.ca/books/kindergarten-program-en.pdf?_ga=2.235170633.934500136.1496271937-642308645.1481234440
Youtube, In Kindergarten We., (2017), Caterpillar Inquiry Using Seesaw . Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcokL7PRrnY