The preschoolers at my school are vivacious young learners and sponges for new knowledge and experiences. It is a pleasure to play a role in bringing them new concepts, and to watch their little faces absorb exciting new ideas. In preschool, practically everything is done with great gusto and wide-eyed enthusiasm and acceptance. Some of the students in the preschool classroom join us with difficulties expressing themselves and the world around them. I am so lucky to be part of their lives and to foster new skills in the area of communication.
The gardening supplies, and caterpillar and butterfly classroom learning materials will help the preschoolers in my classroom build a garden specifically designed to welcome monarch butterflies to lay eggs on milkweed plants, and feed on pollinating plants.
We are so fortunate in Hampton, New Hampshire to be on the migratory path of the monarch butterfly, and many teachers here take the opportunity to let their young students watch a monarch caterpillar develop into a butterfly.
Both the children and adult teachers in the classroom are awed by the sight of new monarch butterflies as they break out of their chrysalises, dry their wings, and fly away. It is a breathtakingly beautiful transformation.
We are launching this project to observe with our youngest learners this scientific phenomenon in a naturalistic way, and to allow the preschoolers a hands-on learning experience about a great scientific metamorphosis of nature. By growing milkweed from seeds, the only food source of monarch caterpillars, the preschoolers will be engaged in the process of planting and growing, and will again see science in the world around them in concrete way. They will play a role in the watering, weeding and care of the milkweed as well as other flowers enjoyed by monarch butterflies. The entire school community will benefit from the opportunity to see the beautiful monarch butterfly begin the cycle of laying eggs on milkweed plants. From these eggs caterpillars will hatch, build chrysalises on the same plants, and eventually emerge as beautiful monarch butterflies.
While the delicate process of the monarch butterfly might actually leave a person speechless, our experience of bringing monarchs to the classroom has most often been a language-rich, vocabulary-building experience for our preschoolers.
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