Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Beautiful Butterflies

I posted earlier about the slow process of the metamorphosis of the caterpillars in our classroom.

All 6 butterflies finally emerged from their chrysalises. The first two emerged during the school day. When the students arrived in the morning, we had six chrysalises. After lunch two butterflies had popped out, blending in very well with the sticks and leaves that were in their habitat. Still my students were able to spot them and were very excited.

Two more popped out over night and the final two took their sweet time and made us wait until we returned to school on Monday. The colorings and strength of their wings intensified each day that they were out. The butterflies gradually began to become more active and get stronger with each day.

I had been anxiously eying the weather, waiting for a sunny day. Our literature in the classroom indicated that the butterflies were more likely to fly if it was sunny outside when they were released. Also we were starting to hit time constraints. The school year ends in seven more school days, there is no school in our district tomorrow, and butterflies don't have an exceptionally long life span. So when the weather started to improve today, I scrapped our prior plans and headed outside with 6 butterflies and 11 children in tow.

We read a story about butterflies and how they grow. I explained to the children that we had started off with small caterpillars, then we had very large caterpillars, then chrysalises and now adult butterflies. They wanted to know what the butterflies would do when we let them free. We talked about how female butterflies lay eggs. Someone told me that he eats eggs. All were eager and some were slightly cautious, unsure of what would happen.

I gently opened their habitat and the first one was out and about, fluttering first around me and the students and then taking off to the right of where we were sitting. The next four out of the habitat also fluttered to the right. The last one was reluctant to the leave the habitat and actually perched on my finger for several minutes and let the students touch it. It was so still that I was worried it may not fly. Then once all of the students stepped back, the butterfly took off! It was the only one to fly to the left. One of my students remarked "it took a different path than all the others".

This has been a valuable learning experience for both me and my students, but I was touched by her remark about the different path. This year has taken me down a different path, with a new teaching assistant, new students, and different needs than in past years. The butterfly made me think: which kind of butterfly are you, one who follows others, or one who makes her own choices? Are you bold enough to let possible predators tenderly touch you or are you scared and flee as quickly as possible? And finally, just like with the butterflies, I was unable to predict the paths of all my students this year. Some proved my first impressions completely wrong and others proved them mostly right, with a few interesting, unpredicted twists and turns along the way.

Iamge for this post was found here

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