One day, this past December, the Dean of our school walked in to my Science classroom carrying a stick with the strangest looking caterpillar on it. A kindergartner found it on the play ground and they decided to bring it to me to see if I wanted it. Welllllll, of course I did. My class was enamoured with it because it looked like this:
How Cute is that?
Well my students went in to investigation overdrive and quickly found that it was a Tiger Swallowtail. The pretend eyes on the one we had were very big and my students predicted that it was a defense mechanism..........guess what, THEY WERE RIGHT!!!
We then decided to create it an environment that would help it feel at home and eventually turn in to a butterfly. We had dried limbs as well as fresh green grass and flowers.
Within a weeks time the caterpillar had seemingly disappeared, but no wait, what is that thing hanging from the limb? A Chrysalis...........more learning.............my 45 Science students were ecstatic.
As time wore on I started thinking that maybe something was wrong. When we came back from Christmas Holiday there was still no change. It looked very, very dry and I was quite sure that it didn't make it.
In the mean time I had to change classrooms and therefore everything was in transition mode. (I had to set up 3 different times this past year, does anyone hurt for me?) Anyhoo, I just left the aquarium alone because I didn't have the heart to discard the chrysalis. The school Dean and the teacher next door continued checking on it almost daily.
Then one fantastic day I had to go back to my old room for supplies that were in my closet. I walked in and some movement caught my eye...........WHAT? I was so excited......there was a beautiful butterfly flying around in the aquarium. I ran to the teacher next door and sent for all of my students to come and look at this wonderful thing that had happened. I cannot explain in words how excited my students were to see this life cycle transpire right before their eyes. It is something that they will never forget, and isn't that what it is all about?
Finally, we decided that the little kindergartner that found the caterpillar should be the one to release it to fly away. The fifth graders took the aquarium outside and we formed a large circle around it. The little fellow that found it knelt down (while his teacher was taking pictures) and released "Panther" to fly away. I loved being able to share that moment with my fifth graders.