Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Butterflies!! A Travelling Homeschool Lesson

We recently (as in last week) joined Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens. I had only been there once to see the GardenFest of Lights when Miss Moo was barely a year old and had a cold, I was pregnant with Miss Roo, and Drew had to carry Moo around. Being there for the lights was great but I was sure there was much more to do in the daylight.

Lewis Ginter drew me in when they advertised BUTTERFLIES!LIVE! I talked with Moo a little about what butterflies were, how fragile they were, and how beautiful they would be to see. But seeing them first I felt would lend way to learning more about them much in the way that giving her a map made her want to learn directions.

We entered the Conservatory as a trio with Mookie and his Mama.   I was struck. Although it was a small  space there truly were butterflies everywhere. The plants were all raised up off the floor in beds so that you would be able to see the delicate creatures more clearly when they landed on the floor.
Moo with the first of many discoveries.

There were plates of rotten food to illustrate that not all butterflies fed solely on nectar.

Moo found the butterflies eating the fruit particularly interesting.  We had discussed how caterpillars and butterflies ate plants and flowers, but not food that we would eat.

There were chrysalises for children and adults to observe the way in which they changed as a caterpillar became a butterflies.

There was an ENTIRE TABLE of resources for children - fact sheets, games, search and finds, and magnifying glasses. I was a little distracted making sure that my girls didn't trample any of the delicate creatures to really look at the loads of resources on the table -that's my plan for our next visit.  I did notice that my girls were mesmerized with using the magnifying glass.

After a little while of using the magnifying glass and learning to use it correctly, we began identifying colors of butterflies and plants and which butterflies seemed to be eating what. After about 15-20 minutes, we were done and headed out to view the other parts of the Conservatory and the garden grounds.

After playing in the fabulous children's area (which deserves a post of it's own) we ate lunch and travelled home for nap. After naps we went to a local park to play and Moo flew like a butterfly quite a bit. I decided to take advantage of this continued interest and stopped by our library for a few books on butterflies.

Our favorites so far are:

Clara Caterpillar by Pamela Duncan Edwards  - With characters like Clara, Cornelius, and Catisha, this book is a hit!

A Butterfly is Patient by Diana Hutts Aston -  This book was listed about the girls reading/listening level as a 5-10 year old book. However they both listened well and Moo even commented that we had seen butterflies eating rotten fruit at the Butterflies Place when we read the educational page on food and nutrition.

Waiting for Wings by Lois Ehlert - I LOVE anything by Lois Ehlert. This book was actually in the children's area at Lewis Ginter and reminded me that it existed. Roo takes particular interest in this book's vivid collaged illustrations.

The more I attempt "structured" educational learning with my girls the more I learn that traditional structure doesn't work best for us. Moo seems to learn "backwards". Trying to sit her down with a book to teach her about butterflies is pointless because she won't be able to focus because she isn't interested. However, if you first take her to see butterflies and THEN get the resources, she is mesmerized because the subject matter is real to her. Each day I find myself trying to teach her something and result in working on something else entirely. We are both on a learning curve with this journey.

Roo seems to follow in her sister's footsteps with one exception. If she sees something in a book that she finds interesting, we will talk about that FOREVER. Moo will move on once her immediate curiosity is satisfied. Roo wants to marinate on the wonder of her discovery.

Homeschooling is a daily adventure for us all. What a wonderful classroom nature has given us.

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