Our Wonders Take Flight
"Curious dragonfly with
Wings of stained glass,
Oh, ancient bearer
Of secret dreams,
Your delicate beauty
Keeps wonder in my heart."
Emma presented her research to the children and shared the story of her wing.
Giant Swallowtail Meets Viceroy
This mini investigation came about after a visit from a former student who is now in grade one. He brought his butterfly to the classroom with a newspaper article. On that same day I had brought a butterfly that I had found on the road while riding my bike the night before. What wonderful timing to be able to investigate two butterfly specimens. Cassidy and Ryder were very interested in finding out what type of butterflies they were. William shared his research with them and told the children he had a Viceroy butterfly. Then Cassidy looked in my butterfly book until she found a matching illustration to our specimen. We discovered that I had found a "Giant Swallowtail" butterfly. Cassidy drew the butterfly and labelled her illustration the following day. During shared learning she presented her work to the class.
That night I was able to video a Viceroy butterfly to share with the children the following day that paid a visit to my garden. The sequence of these events were so amazing to me. What wonderful learning for all of us.
Over the next several days Cassidy continued to complete her drawing and labeling of the Giant Swallowtail butterfly. As well Emma was still very curious about her dragonfly wing. She continued to ask questions and look closely investigating the structure of the wing. I printed several photos of dragonfly wings and we continued to look at photos on the iPad.
The Art Of A WingThe children were given a creative invitation in which they could view the real butterfly specimens and photos of dragonflies. We wanted to see if any wonders or discussions would emerge from this experience. The children used the Sharpie markers to draw the wings and we encouraged them to look closely and add the details they saw. After drawing the children painted their wings with water colours. For many this was their first experience using this medium and we assisted them with the technicalities of using the paints.
A Curious Caterpillar
Jenna came to school with two caterpillars in a bug viewer. She wanted to share them with the children. She placed her viewer on the inquiry table and began to excitedly share her ideas about the caterpillars. Jenna said, "Wow, so long. He has so many spikes on his legs. His eyes are so white. He's probably going to get a cocoon." There were several children gathered around Jenna and her caterpillar's. They were curious about them too. The children observed and shared their thoughts with one another for quite some time. Then Jenna and Emma D. used the clipboards at the inquiry table to record some of the their initial ideas about the caterpillars.
As they were drawing Jenna shared, "The poisonous one eats grass and the other one eats tomato plants. Look at the spike on there." Emma D said, "I know what the spike is for to keep other predator's away." Then Jenna continued to share her observations, "It climbs on the walls. I wonder what kind of caterpillars these are?" The two caterpillars were very different from each other. One was furry and brown the other one was big and green. The children took immediate notice of this. Next Jenna chose to go to the writing table. She had a slip of paper from the question box. She asked my to help her write her question down. Jenna asked, "How to do you spell I wonder?" I showed Jenna the "I Wonder" text and told her she could copy form the title. Then I assisted Jenna in using her letter sound knowledge to finish writing her question. Jenna placed her question in the question box.
The following day Jenna asked if she could present her caterpillar to the children at shared learning time. She began by holding up the viewing container with the caterpillars inside to show the children. Then Jenna shared, "I found a caterpillar on a tomato leaf." Sophia asked, "How did you pick it up?" Jenna replied, "I used a leaf. My mom picked it up." Eden wondered, "How big is it?" Jenna said, "It's that long." Then she pointed to the caterpillar. Kate asked, "Why did you bring it?" Jenna went to the question box and took out her slip of paper. She read her question, "I wonder what kind of caterpillar it is?" This demonstrated to us as educators that Jenna felt she could share her discovery with us and that we would value her desire to investigate her wonders and assist her in discovering the answer to her question. At this point we shared with the children that if they had wonders or questions that they could also place them in the question box for discovery. Jenna had also brought in two tiny green cocoons. She showed them to the children as well. Jenna had spent some time the previous day exploring the photos in my butterfly and moth text at the inquiry table. She had found a page that included an illustration of cocoons that looked very similar to the one's she brought in. Jenna shared with the children, "They are cocoons." Sophia asked, "Are they baby caterpillars hatching out of the cocoons or butterflies." Jenna answered, "They are moths." This discussion gave us a beginning understanding of the children's previous experiences and knowledge about caterpillars. We are curious to see how they lead this learning journey around caterpillars.
At recess while I was on yard duty the children and I discovered a white caterpillar. We brought it in the classroom so we could observe it with the other caterpillars. The children were very curious about these caterpillars. The following day we were so surprised. Inside of the Jenna's caterpillar container one of the caterpillars was missing. We could not figure out what happened. We wondered if the green caterpillar had eaten the brown one. Then later that day we made an exciting discovery. The brown caterpillar was not missing. It was under one of the leaves. The caterpillar had made it's cocoon. The children were very excited. We looked forward to continuing to observe the green caterpillar and the white one. The next day brought more surprises as we discovered that the white caterpillar had also made it's self into a cocoon. With the sun shining through the window I was able to video the cocoon. We could see the caterpillar working hard at making the cocoon thicker.
Tomato Hornworm Caterpillar
Over the next few days the children continued to observe. They named the big green caterpillar, "Baby Boo Boo." In the art studio they made labels and attached them to the big viewing container. We had moved Baby Boo Boo into the larger container to give him more room and the children created a home for him by placing stones and sticks along with the tomato leaves Jenna brought to school. They made sure the caterpillar had everything it needed especially food. Jenna continued to bring in tomato leaves and share what she had research at home about the caterpillar. Jenna shared that he was a tomato hornworm caterpillar. She said, "Miss the cocoon is ugly my mom and I looked it up." The children were so surprised each morning when most of the leaves had been eaten. I bought Baby Boo Boo home for Thanksgiving weekend. Thankfully my neighbour still had tomato plants in her garden and she graciously let me feed Baby Boo Boo all weekend. I continued to photograph and document Baby Boo Boo each day. I added soil to the container after researching that this type of caterpillar makes it's cocoon in the dirt. I wondered if the caterpillar would cocoon before I could return to school the following Tuesday. Well Baby Boo Boo did go into the soil but luckily he came out twice so that I was able to actually video the caterpillar going into the soil for the children to see at school. I couldn't wait to show them. I bought Baby Boo Boo back to school. The children could see the caterpillar in the bottom of the dirt through the clear bottom of the container.
legs." Maysea then asked, "How does he breath?" We continued to record all the children's questions for further research and to help us inform our next steps. Cassidy spoke next and she shared some interesting information about tomato hornworm caterpillars that she researched at home. She said, "Wasps lay their eggs on Baby Boo Boo." We then discussed why this happened and what it looks like on the caterpillars. The children continued to share some wonders and questions based on their observations of the caterpillars later that same day. We wrote them on the white board as they spoke.They are as follows:Eden: "I wonder what kind of butterfly it will turn into?"Jace: "What kind of caterpillar is it?"Eden replied, "It's poisonous."Cassidy: "Why did it go into a cocoon today?"Eden replied, "So it can turn into a butterfly."Ari: "Is it going to turn into different colours?"Jace: "Why are butterflies poisonous?"Sophia: "I wonder if the poisonous caterpillars when it comes out will be a poisonous butterfly?"What thought provoking questions.
An invitation to explore cocoon making. Several of the children had expressed a wonder around the idea of how caterpillars make their cocoons. We offered an invitation to use wire and yarn to share their thinking around this wonder. A group of children gathered at the table and after choosing a piece of coloured wire and showing them how to use the wire cutters we began our exploration of wire. I began by asking the children to see what their wire could do. For some of the children this was their first experience using the medium of wire. The children described the wire as bendy. I explained that wire came from the ground. That it was mined out of rocks and formed into the long wire piece they were holding. Many of the children could not believe it. The children were eager to get started. Emma wanted to use the photo of the dragonfly wing to help her form a wire wing. The other children used the wire to represent their thinking about cocoons. Cassidy shared, "This is the caterpillarinside of the cocoon." She used red wire to represent the caterpillar and a silver wire oval surrounded the red wire as the cocoon. Eden wanted to wrap her entire wire structure with white yarn. She said, "I don't want any of the wire showing." The children continued to work and I documented each wire design on a white sheet of paper with the children's name stick. Their wire work was delicate and simple. A beautiful representation of their observations of the cocoons.
We read the non-fiction text, "Caterpillars" to the children. After sharing the book Sierra said, "Butterflies and moths have to collect their lunch and snack from flowers." She demonstrated her previous knowledge of these beautiful insects to us. What a great connection to our text. Eden asked, "How do butterflies get their food?" Emma D. added, "How do caterpillars make their cocoon?" Eden replied, "They use strings." We wondered where the strings came from. Emma D said, "On their feet." Then Sophia shared, "I know how they get out of their cocoon. They wiggle.
Is That You Baby Boo Boo?
About a week and a half after our tomato hornworm caterpillar went under the soil we noticed a small moth inside of the specimen container. The children couldn't believe it. They immediately set out to document their observations of the little moth. They discussed how Baby Boo Boo had come out of his cocoon. The children asked me to dig up the cocoon. After some looking through the soil we found no cocoon. However when we came to one of the corners of the container we saw the dirt moving!!!! How surprising this was for the children. We decided that our little moth was not Baby Boo Boo. The children thought it was too small because Baby Boo Boo the caterpillar was big so when he becomes a moth he'll be big too.
The children know that they will have to wait to see what will happen next. We have learned that these cocoons will not hatch until the spring. We will however continue to explore our ideas and wonders around caterpillars and cocoons. How exciting the spring will be. A time of new life and new growth that we hope to share with a few new beautiful insect friends. Baby Boo Boo sleep well!
"Teaching a child not to step on a caterpillar is as valuable to the child as it is to the caterpillar." Bradley Miller