For the last several weeks, Quest’s Primary and Lower Elementary classrooms have been immersed in the lifecycle of the great Monarch Butterfly. Each level has spent time observing, reading books, and creating art related to this amazing metamorphosis.
Each Primary classroom had caterpillars that were discovered by students outdoors, and placed into small environments. The children incorporated this into their work cycle by creating a proper habitat, visiting for observation, reading caterpillar and butterfly books, and eagerly discussing their observations with one another during lunch, work-cycle, and on the playground. Several also found inspiration at the painting easel and worked on butterfly-inspired portraits.
Lower Elementary began their study with two eggs and two tiny caterpillars that were found locally. The classroom researched how to care for monarch caterpillars and the stages of their life cycle. Students used a “Magiscope” microscope, to look closely at a monarch egg daily, observing and recording any changes. Gradually, they watched as the eggs turned into caterpillars and the students introduced milkweed leaves into the environment.
In all of the classrooms, our caterpillars ate and ate and ate, shedding their skin and growing bigger and bigger each day. The children observed as the caterpillars made their way to the top of the habitat, attached themselves, and hung in a j shape. They then entered the pupae stage, becoming a chrysalis. The chrysalis started out bright green and then slowly darkened. The children anxiously waited for almost two weeks, checking every morning to see if the butterfly had emerged overnight. In Lower Elementary, students filled these two weeks by continuing to research butterflies, reading books on the subject and learning about the importance of symmetry in Art through the use of ink and pastels.
Two weeks later, our first school butterfly emerged from its chrysalis. In each classroom, the children gathered around and watched closely as they broke free and dried their wings in preparation for flight. When it came time for release, all of the children wondered where the butterflies would go. Lower Elementary students had learned that once the temperatures begin to drop, monarch butterflies began a long migration to Mexico where they live through the cold months. Toward the end of winter, the monarch makes its way North again and lays eggs on milkweed plants along the way, beginning the cycle again. They were excited to share this discovery with their peers throughout the school.