Learning to Raise Butterflies

Pierre Elliott Trudeau B.A.S.E. Daycare Pre-Kindergarten students witnessed the miracle of metamorphosis as they explored the life cycle of a butterfly. Through various methods of teaching, the children learned how to raise butterflies and release them into the wild. They gained knowledge and used their fine motor and gross motor skills through science, art, literacy and music activities.

The idea took shape in May 2018 when Montreal experienced an incredible infestation of tent caterpillars. The children were fascinated by these tiny caterpillars that they spotted at the park one afternoon. As a group, we decided to capture one and keep it as a classroom pet. We named the caterpillar Pablito and housed our little friend in a mason jar, replete with twigs and leaves for food. Every day we fed our class pet fresh leaves and pieces of fruit. Upon the children’s arrival to school in the morning, they visited and observed Pablito in his little home. How much Pablito had eaten was a big concern to the children. The children were fascinated by how fast the caterpillar grew!


In the midst of all this, and with the help and guidance from our school’s science teacher, butterfly larvae was purchased from a local butterfly farmer. We compared their transformation to Pablito’s. The children learned how to clean the caterpillar droppings on their own. Two children were chosen for the task every day! Watching the caterpillars transform and grow inside their cocoon, waiting for the butterflies to emerge by pushing on the walls of their cocoon until they broke free, and watching the butterflies dry their wings before being  released into the wild was a truly incredible experience for the children as well as the adults. Caring for our little insect friends was fascinating for everyone—even parents shared in the children’s excitement and were curious to learn all about their beautiful project. The life cycle of a butterfly is magical! It is truly amazing to watch a tiny caterpillar transform into a beautiful winged insect.

Pablito took longer than the butterflies to become ready to be released into the wild, but they were finally able to set him free on the last day of the school year! The children and I we were able to see our project through, and most importantly, everyone had an enjoyable and enriching experience. What a wonderful way to begin our summer vacation!

Angela Genovese, Pierre Elliott Trudeau B.A.S.E. Daycare Educator

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