Hundreds of caterpillars have crossed the hands of the children at PSA. In many classrooms, adult butterflies hang in full view to dry their wings, gaining strength to fly to Mexico. The Snowflake Room is the central hub for our monarch madness, they welcome adult butterflies that will live EIGHT times longer than all others that lived during the spring and summer months. Children have hands-on experience handling milkweed, eggs, caterpillars, chrysalids, and adult butterflies. When the season peaks, the Snowflakes care for hundreds of caterpillars and butterflies at a time, from egg to caterpillar to full grown butterfly. They find joy in sharing their knowledge and care techniques with other children, often much older than themselves.
The ‘Chrysalis Tree’ reached maximum capacity with 78 chrysalids glued to its branches. During peak season, the tree is displayed outside on the back playground and the whole school can witness the emergence of a Monarch Butterfly.
Student: I see a butterfly; black with white and orange.
Teacher: Tell me about the butterflies.
Student: They crawl and crawl and flap their wings.
Teacher: What do you think they eat?
Teacher: Caterpillars eat milkweed. What do butterflies like to eat?
Student: Maybe grass.
Teacher: When the butterfly is outside, what do they land on?
Student: To eat!
Because at PSA, we incorporate the children’s interests in as many ways as possible, we also studied the monarchs through the language of art. The children could choose to draw a close up of a chrysalis, a newly emerging monarch or the entire branch filled with chrysalises. Most of the children were interested in drawing a magnified version of a chrysalis and a few wanted to draw the emerging butterfly. A couple drew the entire branch of chrysalises. The children carefully drew with black sharpie markers and added chalk pastels or prisma color pencils depending on the size of the drawing. Two groups actually witnessed the butterfly emerge from the chrysalis which was a thrill beyond thrills. The children added dots of rich metallic gold paint to complete the magic and beauty of the chrysalis.
Reflection by Jessy Rowe and Celia Rusch, Snowflake Room Co-teachers, and Lizzie Primozic, Art Specialist