Those who can, teach: Tracking the Painted Lady life cycle with pasta

Hey there, today marks another installment of my handy how-to’s for educators.

This particular activity is awesome when paired with observing Painted Lady butterflies grow and change in your classroom.  It’s a visually appealing model that represents a unique hands-on opportunity to record the stages in the life cycle of organisms in their natural environment — using inexpensive materials and items gathered from outdoors.

caterpillar

Photo by squeakychu

What You’ll Need:

From Caterpillar to Butterfly by Deborah Heiligman (very basic)
The Lifecycles of Butterflies by Judy Burris and Wayne Richards (more detailed)
Light blue construction paper cut into 3 x 18-inch (8 x 35-cm) strips – one strip per child
Rotini pasta – one piece per child
Bowtie pasta – one piece per child
Mini shell pasta – one piece per child
Orzo pasta (rice also works well) – one piece per child
Small twigs or brown craft stems cut into 3-inch strips – three per child
Fresh leaves or leaves cut from construction paper– two per child
Wildflower or flower sticker – one per child
Washable markers
Liquid water color paint in green and another color of your choice
Scissors
School glue

Kat-Caterpillar to Butterfly

What You Do:

1.    Cut construction paper into strips; one per child.
2.    Color rotini pasta and mini-shell pasta green by placing pasta in a baggie with green liquid water color and shaking gently.  Spread out and allow the pasta to dry.
3.    Color bowtie pasta a bright color of your choice in the same manner.

Next:

1.    Read:  From Caterpillar to Butterfly by Deborah Heiligman aloud to the class. This story is about a Painted Lady Butterfly raised in a classroom. Painted Lady Butterfly Kits are available in the Houston Museum of Natural Science Museum Store (use your educator’s discount!).  Live specimens will ship to you after you mail in the card contained in the kit — allow time for this.
2.    Take your class on a short field trip in the green areas on school grounds.
3.    Each child will collect three small sticks and two fresh leaves.  (Keep in mind that it is a good idea to check with school administrators to verify that collecting on school grounds is permissible.)
4.    Each child will fold a strip of light blue construction paper into four equal sections, creasing well.
5.    In the first section, a stick and a leaf are glued into the square, as if it were a leaf hanging from the stick.  Glue a single piece of orzo atop the leaf.  What does the orzo represent?
6.    Glue a stick and leaf in a similar way in the second square. Glue a piece of green rotini pasta to the top of the leaf.  What does this represent?
7.    In the third square, a stick should be glued with one mini-shell pasta hanging straight from the middle.  What does this represent?
8.    In the last square, a flower or flower sticker will be glued, along with the colorful piece of bowtie pasta.  What does the bowtie pasta represent?  Why do we have the flower in this square?
9.    Label each section as follows:  EGG, CATERPILLAR, CHRYSALIS, and BUTTERFLY.  They must be labeled in this order.
10.    Have children practice presenting the butterfly life cycle to one another using the project that was created.

Cockrell Butterfly Center

Questions to expand those  kiddie minds:

Why did you glue the “egg” and the “caterpillar” to the leaves?
Why did you glue the “chrysalis” to the stick?
Why was there a flower with our butterfly?
How many stages are there in the butterfly’s life cycle?
How is your life cycle similar to the life cycle of a butterfly?  How is it different?
Name other life cycles you observe around you.

Enjoy!

Adopt A Butterfly – this Saturday

Perched
Creative Commons License photo credit: bensonkua

It’s easy to love the feeling of walking into the Cockrell Butterfly Center. As you take your first step inside, you’re ensconsed in the warmth of the air and the comforting blanket of humidity…well, as a native Houstonian, perhaps I find that feeling more comforting than most.  

As you skim over your surroundings, you’ll see flowers the size of your monitor, vines as thick as your keyboard, and the most inviting non-yellow brick road you’ve ever seen. Butterflies from all over the world aimlessly fly around you and it hits you like a ton of bricks that now is the time to relax and take life at a slower pace. After 10 minutes of pure relaxation, you finally start poking around the place and finding the most curious things: butterfly host plants holding cocoons and caterpillars, creeping vines crawling up two floors of glass walls to soak up the light, and the splash of the waterfall which causes tiny droplets of water to spray upwards while the butterflies dance on them. All of these things make up the rhythm of life within the Cockrell Butterfly Center.

Now, it’s your chance to participate in that rhythm. For a contribution of $15, you can release a butterfly into the Center and become a butterfly parent. Your contribution helps to pay for butterfly and insect food, for weeds to be cut back, for new plants and insect species to be introduced, and for the upkeep of our greenhouse – a safe haven for butterflies and plants until they are mature enough to reach the Center. You are also contributing to HMNS’ ability to provide you and all of our visitors with the latest information and research about these incredible creatures.

Frittilary
Creative Commons License photo credit: Lida Rose

Adopt A Butterfly

Join us this Saturday (October 11, 2008) from 9 am until 2 pm in the Cockrell Butterfly Center for your chance to release a young butterfly into its new home. Adopt A Butterfly tickets can be purchased online or at the door for $15. Receive your butterfly to be released in the Center, your adoption certificate, your name on our web site as a Butterfly Parent, and a small commemorative gift for your donation.

While you’re here, participate in our crafts and activities! Houston Holocaust Museum is spreading awareness of The Butterfly Project here at HMNS. Find out more at their web site and learn how you can help.