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Welcome to Dupage Mamas! This blog is a place for Mamas to connect, share their experiences, and recommend great finds and ideas (or let us learn from your mistakes!) If you are raising kids in Dupage County, then we'd love to have you along for the adventure!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Witnessing Transformation

For his 3rd birthday, a friend gave us this ultra-cool butterfly kit by Insect Lore. It comes with a net habitat and a certificate for the caterpillars. Although I thought the gift was a great idea (creative, out of the ordinary, educational,...), I honestly forgot about it for awhile. And then on one inspired day while cleaning off my desk, I found the certificate and mailed it off. About 3-4weeks later, this is what arrived at my house:... a plastic jar with some sort of pectin food at the bottom and 5 tiny little caterpillars (about the size of your finger nail). We set the jar on the counter, not sure exactly of what to expect. They didn't move much at first. But slowly, they started to grow and eventually got to be an inch or two long. And then, about two weeks later and as if they knew they were on display and being watched, these little caterpillars moved their way to the top of the jar. They hung upside down from the lid of the jar and we could actually see them spinning their silky chrysalis around their bodies. They are making their cocoons!! This is actually working!!

the 5 chrysalis

We moved the chrysalis to the net habitat and waited. It was the first thing we ran to in the morning and the last thing we looked at before bed. We were waiting to see what would happen. Then one morning, about a week or so after they spun their tiny cocoon, we woke up to a beautiful butterfly in our net!! WOW!!
the first butterfly, coming out of the chrysalis

My little guy couldn't have been more excited. He sat there and stared at it. I have to admit, I was pretty enamored by the whole thing myself. Maybe it is the biology junkie in me or the joy of watching my son's amazement, but I couldn't get enough. It took about 3days for all of the butterflies to emerge and each was mostly brown when they first came out. It took a few days for them to fully open their wings and display their gorgeous hues of orange and pink and yellow. We fed them sugar-water on paper towels and slices of oranges and watermelon for the week or so that the butterflies lived in my kitchen.

From the beginning of this process, we started preparing him that we would have to let the butterflies go. He claimed to be fine with that, as long as he got to "hold one" first. We actually did open the net a few times and stick his arm in and the butterflies would land right on his hand. My son and his butterflies became fast friends. I didn't know how much he loved this little science experiment until it did come time to let them go. Tears were shed (him and me) and prayers said for God to "protect our friends the butterflies." Then in one of the beautiful off-the-beaten-path gardens of the Arboretum, we let the butterflies go. One at a time so we could say good bye to each one. It was one of my favorite moments of my son's life so far. The wonderment on his face as he put his hand out to let get each one out of the net and then watched as it slowly discovered it was free to fly away- it was awesome to watch. He was sad, but so tender and precious. It was one of those moments I will never forget.

Letting them go

Holding the butterflies

Saying good bye to butterfly friends is hard work!

This whole thing, from jar to Arboretum, has been such a fun experiment. I loved watching the transformation and watching my son as he soaked it all in. We will definitely do it again!!

You can get your own Butterfly kit at local Learning Express stores or online at Insect Lore. They have other things besides butterflies... maybe we'll do the Praying Mantis next... :)

Do you have a product or something that you have done with your kids that other DupageMamas may want to know about? E-mail us your idea/thoughts dupagemamas(at)gmail(dot)com.


nuddpenney July 21, 2009 at 8:19 PM  

What a cool story! That sounds like so much fun! They have something similar at the circulation desk at the Glen Ellyn library...but I don't go in often enough to really track what's going on. Maybe someday we'll give this a try!

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