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 M and A’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 – A’s face when the butterfly popped out of its cocoon was a picture, she was completely enchanted!
I set up this 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
A 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
A 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.
M is increasingly interested in building more complex constructions with blocks. Together we made a house for the caterpillars and butterflies.
He revisited this a few days later by himself. He was so pleased with his caterpillar house, I tidied up around it and added some extra resources so he could continue his play the following day.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)!” (M) and “here you are butterfly, here’s some nectar in your flower for you” (A). 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.