Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Don't You Know That Someday You Will Be A Butterfly?

Fuzzy, fuzzy caterpillar crawling, crawling by
Don't you know that someday you will be a butterfly?
Don't you know that someday you will be a butterfly?

Our butterflies emerged from their chrysalises at the end of last week and over the weekend, a moment as exciting for some of us as Christmas morning. They came to us as tiny caterpillars, they grew larger and larger, then according to a time table written into their beings, they split their skins to form a chrysalis. This story of metamorphosis is one that most of the children already know, we've been raising painted lady butterflies at Woodland Park for at least a decade now, a gift from the grandfather of a couple of our students, but even the kids who've not until now been witness to this miracle of nature know the story. But there is nothing like living it and it never grows old.

One boy has been arriving every day, asking, "Did the caterpillars go into their chrysalises? Are they in there? Are they getting to be butterflies?" And when I've answered "Yes," he's turned to his classmates to tell them, "The caterpillars are in their chrysalises. They are really in there. They are going to turn into butterflies." For the past few days he's been asking, "Were the caterpillars really in their chrysalises? Did they come out?" then trusting his own eyes, shouting, "They got to be butterflies!"

Another has made himself the class "reporter," taking a daily census when he arrives at school, then letting us know how many caterpillars, how many chrysalises, how many butterflies, before offering his theories on when we can expect the rest of them to either form their chrysalis or emerge as butterflies.

The adults have done little teaching about butterflies, making no effort to "scaffold" or "extend" their learning, other than, I suppose to occasionally sing the song that goes with the lyrics at the top of this post and answer the questions the children ask us. The children have had up close access to this process from the very beginning, pressing their noses against the containers and cages, remarking, speculating, and wondering.

There were a couple accidents. Several of the chrysalises were jarred loose from where they hung. These we placed in a single enclosure, arranged carefully on tissue. I called it "the ICU unit." Most of these emerged intact, although a few had deformed wings and were unable to fly. These are the ones the children chose to release first. We placed the four that failed to thrive amongst our just-blossoming strawberry plants, along with the orange slices that have served as their food while in captivity. No one had to tell the children to be extra gentle with them. One climbed on the back a boy's hand and would not leave. He carried it around, carefully, for the rest of the day, including when we went indoors. The boy said, "He knows I'll take care of it." He wondered if the yellow and red paint on his fingers made the butterfly think he was a flower. At the end of the day, we agreed he should take it home, where, he told us, he had caterpillars and other bugs that could be its friends.

In the afternoon, we released some more butterflies into the bright, blue sky. These, all healthy, fluttered one by one into the tops of trees. There were at least 35 of us out there on the playground, kindergarteners, preschoolers, and adults. Everyone was gathered around in anticipation and as each butterfly took flight, we shouted, spontaneously, "Bye, bye butterfly!" It was heartfelt. It felt like we were saying thank you.

I've published a book! If you are interested in ordering Teacher Tom's First Book, click here. Thank you!

I put a lot of time and effort into this blog. If you'd like to support me please consider a small contribution to the cause. Thank you!
Bookmark and Share

No comments: