For the last week and a half we have been studying caterpillars. We are following the brilliant Exploring Nature With Children curriculum for our nature study, and this fortnight is designated for caterpillar study.

After some deliberation I decided we would do as the curriculum suggests and order some caterpillars to “grow our own” butterflies, as observing this process up close would not be possible for us otherwise and I felt it would be a really special experience for Frida. So far it’s been really interesting watching them grow, noting all the parts of their bodies and observing how they move, and we are excited to watch them transform.

To support our nature study we are currently reading:

  • Caterpillar Butterfly. From the brilliant Nature Storybooks series. If you get just one book about caterpillars or butterflies for your child, get this! I love how it teaches children about the butterfly life cycle through a story.
  • Insect Emporium. Whenever we get this out to look at I’m struck by how beautiful it is – not what you’d expect for a book about bugs!
  • 1001 Bugs to Spot. Frida has been really enjoying this spotting book. It doesn’t have any information apart from the names of the bugs, but it’s a great book both for language acquisition and numeracy, as well as developing her attention to detail and concentration span, and sparking conversations about different habitats.
  • Caterpillars and Butterflies. This book is brilliant, really informative and illustrated with photographs rather than drawings. We’ve been just reading the parts about caterpillars so far, saving the butterfly pages for when our caterpillars hatch.
  • Le Chenille Qui Fait Des Trous ie. The Very Hungry Caterpillar! This book is too simple now for Frida in English (though she loved it when she was younger) but in French it is perfect.

We have been learning about the parts of a caterpillar’s body – and I genuinely mean we, I’m learning just as much as Frida! – by using some cards I made using this brilliant printable (I made the cards double sided, one side has the picture and the other has the information). She is right in the middle of the absorbent period for language so this is the perfect time to be learning precise vocabulary.

After learning about the anatomy of a caterpillar, Frida then made her own caterpillar out of modelling clay and match sticks. I didn’t interfere with this, I just showed her how she could use a match stick to hold two balls of clay together, and let her get on with it. She loved this activity, and was absorbed in it for some time, quietly talking to herself as she worked.

I also made some butterfly life cycle cards using this printable. They are not especially challenging for her, but they support what we have been learning and observing really nicely.

Once the caterpillars metamorphose we will shift our attention onto butterflies, perhaps with a break to study ants in the middle as suggested by the curriculum depending on how long our caterpillars take to change.

Are you using Exploring Nature With Children? I am really enjoying the structure it gives to our nature study, and have found that we are looking at things in greater detail than we otherwise would have. If you are following it too I’d love to know what you are doing! 

If you liked this post you might enjoy Exploring Nature With Children: Grasses.

Posted by:Eloise R

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