Tuesdays and Thursdays this year have been filled with lunches with friends, and gym and art classes for A and S. For G, it has meant preschool. Out-of-the-house, pack-your-lunch, play-with-friends preschool. It has been a great thing for our four-year-old guy. Up until now he has tagged along for the ride, sitting back seat to whatever the brothers were involved in. Preschool, however, has been wholly his. He has loved each moment.
With fewer than twenty students, our little church preschool has been a wonderful place for G to learn, play and grow two days a week. Not only has it provided him opportunities for learning and social time, but it has also given our family support. G sees his teachers as positive, loving reminders of his own capabilities. We are so grateful for that.
This month they have been concentrating on caterpillars and butterflies. The teachers have displayed monarch caterpillars in jars. They have learned about the chrysalis. They have talked about colors and defense patterns, such as false eyes. Watching the process from caterpillar to butterfly only serves to excite him about his own growing and changing body. G seems to have a direct understanding that because God created everything, he has executed it all in astounding and loving ways. I wanted to capitalize on their studies and explorations at school, and bring them home. I love how they are able to observe live caterpillars. Below are some of our favorite butterfly books. Here I need to give kudos to our local librarian who helped me become acquainted with two of these titles recently. They are both new favorites with G.
A Butterfly is Patient by Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long – I cannot describe how exquisite the details of this book are! The illustrations are like something to be found in a high quality nature journal. Both the text and colorful artwork urge you to race outdoors….to sit and observe.
Summer Birds: The Butterflies of Maria Merian by Margarita Engle and Julie Paschkis tells the true story of Maria Merian, who as a teenager, became a lepidopterist and artist of nature during the Middle Ages when the wisdom of the day stated that insects were evil and sprang up out of mud. Maria was insistent and carefully studied their life cycle. The simple text is a gentle introduction to the beauty of science and learning, giving children an inspirational role model. The illustrations are bright and colorful, almost folk or naive in style.
Monarch Butterfly by Gail Gibbons is one of the best places to begin to understand details of the life cycle and habitat of the popular orange and black lepidoptera. Her books of non-fiction are some of our favorites. This one introduces vocabulary such as migration and proboscis.
Bob and Otto by Robert O. Bruel and Nick Bruel is an incredibly sweet, witty story of two friends – an earthworm and a caterpillar. When one of them grows and changes, the other feels neglected. Not only is this a story of the differences in creatures, but a tale of the importance of friendship.
Gotta Go! Gotta Go! by Sam Swope and Sue Riddle – The persistence and intrepid spirit of the monarch caterpillar is contagious in this repetitive and charming book. The basic illustrations add to the sweetness. Your little one will enjoy chanting along with you, “Gotta go! Gotta go! Gotta go….to Mexico!”
G has been bringing home butterfly crafts, but we wanted to do one more simple one at home. This is where my creativity breaks down a bit, so I need to keep art projects as basic as possible. On a folded sheet of paint paper I drew half a butterfly. G painted it in and we folded the page over to press the other half of the butterfly to the other side – symmetry!
I’ve watched you now a full half-hour;
Self-poised upon that yellow flower
And, little Butterfly! Indeed
I know not if you sleep or feed.
How motionless!- not frozen seas
More motionless! and then
What joy awaits you, when the breeze
Hath found you amongst the trees,
And calls you forth again!
~William Wordsworth “To a Butterfly”
G used tempera paints for his creation. Because there were no green or orange in our box, we had to mix up our own colors. Not only did G enjoy swirling his paint brush about on his paper bag “palette,” but it was a gentle reminder of what red/yellow or blue/yellow make. Another bit of science for us.
Literature and butterflies are the two sweetest passions known to man.