I am so excited today to welcome Rachel from Family Ever After. I met Rachel at SNAP after “talking” to her a few times over email and she is just the sweetest girl ever! She is talented in so many things and her blog shows it. She always has something fun going on, but is also an amazing mommy to 3 kids, so I could not leave her out during this series! Here is Rachel:
Hi! I’m Rachel, and I have a blog called Family Ever After. I am a country girl at heart… my 4 sisters and I grew up in South Dakota. I’ve know my husband since we were 12, he grew up there too! I went to college at BYU, where I majored in Family and Consumer Science Education. I taught middle school sewing for a year. I’m now living my dream being a mom to 3. I’m very passionate about letting my kids “help” me do projects. Basically, my blog is a big mish mash of things I love: sewing, crafting, food, family, travel, gardening, country music, sunflowers, clogging, and running, and taking pictures of it all!
I hope you’re all having a great summer so far! I’m excited to be posting on Kiki’s blog for the first time! Today I’m sharing one of the most exciting things my kids and I have done all summer… we grew our own butterflies!
We saw an infomercial for this butterfly garden kit on TV a few months ago. While I was a little skeptical if it would work, my kids kept begging to give it a try, so I bought the kit for them as a “Welcome to Summer” gift, to celebrate the end of the school year. I purchased our kit at the local teacher supply store, United Art and Education. The company that makes it is called Insect Lore, and I know you can order these straight from their website.
The way it works is you purchase the butterfly habitat (it was $20), and then when you are ready (give yourself a 3 week period of time), you order your caterpillars, which will arrive in the mail (you pay $5 for shipping). As you can see, my kids were beside themselves with excitement upon opening our mail-order caterpillars!
This project is really quite easy. It takes very little to maintain and grow your caterpillars into butterflies. You don’t need to feed the caterpillars, or worry about them, until its time to transfer their cocoons to the garden.
The caterpillars were a thrill to watch. My kids would sing and talk to them every day. They were more active in that little jar than I thought they would be. The brown stuff on the bottom is their food.
They got to work pretty quickly spinning their silk and wrapping themselves into a chrysalis. I accidentally erased my pictures of the cocoon period, which is too bad, because it was so cool! They all started spinning around the same time, and were each complete hanging cocoon within a few days of each other. Once all the cocoons have been spun, you are supposed to remove the lid of the small jar, and peel off the tissue paper which the cocoons will be attached to. You then tape it to the top of your butterfly garden like so….
I actually left our coccoons in the jar a day too long. One day when we had come home, 2 of the butterflies had already emerged from their cocoons! It wasn’t hard to transfer them to their home.
And here they are! Five beautiful monarch butterflies! It truly was miraculous to watch them come out of their cocoons. There were so many lessons and discussion about the creation of life that took place in our home.
My kids named them Mona, Lisa, Gracie, Lacey, and Butter. They became part of our family, our kids wanted to keep them forever!
The kids would stick their hands in the cage and gently play with them. And… yes, one or two escaped a few times, but it was great fun catching them and putting them back in their home!
The directions say to feel the butterflies carnations, fruit, or a sugar water mixture. We had some gorgeous lilies in our yard, and my daughters picked them as food for the butterflies, much to my chagrin, haha. Our “pets” seemed to really enjoy them!
One of the things I love about this project is that when you’re ready to do it again, all you have to do is order your caterpillars. You don’t need to purchase the whole kit again. Also, this cage has been an excellent trap for our fireflies every night! I love the multiple uses!
When the butterflies wings are touching, they look pretty brown and dull. But when they open their wings to reveal their magical orange colors, it is just breathtaking!
We let our butterflies live on our kitchen counter for about a week and a half.
As you can imagine, the kids grew pretty attached to our pets. So the day it was time to let them go was slightly traumatic, especially for our 4 year old whose little world revolves around bugs. Our 6 year old, who was equally fascinated by the process, understood that we needed to let them free in order to survive and eat and pollinate other plants.
We let them go on a Sunday afternoon. The 4 year old, who has a collection of cages, transferred a butterfly into her purple cage. She wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye.
However, it escaped on its own. It was pure joy for our little girl when the butterfly landed on her shoulder for a moment in time. Sadly, the unfortunate little butterfly left her shoulder and plummeted to its short life’s end by landing in a spider web that was too high for me to reach and set free. There were tears, some even from me. It was really sad! But another life’s lesson was learned, and we read a book about spiders later that night. Spiders have to eat too!
Perhaps my favorite part of the whole process was the “Field Journals” that I helped the kids record in. They wrote down their observations every day, drawing pictures of the changing caterpillars.
This is my kindergartener’s record of days 1-4.
And here is her record of days 5-11.
(We stopped recording once the butterflies had emerged from the cocoons).
Here’s a caterpillar according to our 4 year old. (This melts my heart)!! haha
So that wraps up our adventure with butterflies.
I hope you stop by Family Ever After sometime, there’s always something fun going on!
Thank you Kiki for inviting me to guest post in this Fun in the Sun series!
PS- It may appear that this is a sponsored or campaign type of post, but I assure you it is not. I am not writing this on behalf of any companies. I purchased all the materials myself. I’m only writing from my own experience, with my own opinions, because I loved this product and experience!
Oh dear, I know my kids are going to be all over this! Rachel, thank you! I love how full in every aspect that was for her children..what a fun activity to talk about science, the life cycle and then get to write/draw about it. Make sure you hop on over to Rachel’s blog..I told you how amazing she is..and I think today proved it again. Make sure to check out a few of my favorites there: