This year marks the 45th anniversary of the classic children’s picture book The Hungry Little Caterpillar and to celebrate this and the official start of spring, I’ve put together five fun butterfly activities for kids for you to enjoy together.
Plant a Monarch habitat
The Monarch population is dwindling but you can help restore its habitat by planting milkweed – the only plant on which the Monarch will lay its eggs – in your backyard. MonarchWatch.org has a list of American and Canadian seed suppliers that sell milkweed seeds and plants. Schools and non-profits can even apply to get a free flat of 32 plugs with milkweed, plus instructions for how to create a monarch habitat.
Raise a butterfly and release it
Watching the metamorphosis of a caterpillar is a wonderful and hands-on way for children to learn about the life cycle of butterflies. Plus, by releasing the butterflies once they’ve emerged from their chrysalises, you’re contributing to the local butterfly population! There are many types of kits available online; for U.S. residents Outdoor Toy Boutique offers up to seven species of butterflies. Have your child record the caterpillars’ transformation with this free printable from Kathys Cluttered Mind.
Make a butterfly feeder
The simplest way to make a butterfly feeder is to use a rimmed plate and suspend it from a tree using strings, or put it on a platter filled with water, to keep ants out. Fill it with old, mushy fruit, like pears, bananas, peaches or water melon – the more colors the better. If you’re feeling crafty, you can make a more permanent feeder that requires less maintenance. I love this mason jar feeder from BrightNest.
Become a citizen scientist
Many Monarch butterflies are infected with a parasite that makes it difficult for them to fly and often kills them. You can help track the spread of this disease (which does not infect humans) by collecting samples from wild butterflies and sending them in to a lab. This is a great science project for an older child – check out how one family did it at The Educator’s Spin On It.
Make butterfly pancakes
Finally, how about some yummy, butterfly-inspired pancakes to go with all those activities? These, from Nothing If Not Intentional, are both cute and healthy!