Our Journey of Discovery: Monarchs



“The butterfly came down from the cocoon. It probably went on a trip with its family.” ~ Chloe (3 Day PM)

 The last few weeks have been busy, to say the least! For those of you who follow The Garden Classroom on Facebook or know of the activities taking place in your child’s classroom, you are aware that our days have been filled with parades, picture days and parent-teacher conferences. In between those activities, I have carved out little bits of precious moments where I met with small groups of children to reflect on our experiences with the monarchs.  We call these little gatherings the “Monarch Committee.”


Beginning with our 3 Day programs in Room 1, I made a small presentation inviting them to join the Monarch Committee. I asked them if they remembered when the monarchs came to The Garden Classroom. The event was just as special to them as it was to me. I shared with them the preserved monarch butterfly that was given to me and pictures that were taken of the event.I told the children there were many different ways to tell the story of  their visitation. I invited them to share with me and each other their own version of the story.


 I was very eager and curious to see, not so much what the children “remembered” about the monarch experience but what was it that caught their fancy concerning the experience. Our time spent together was precious and so fulfilling.

There were some delightful surprises. I love how Davis referred to the caterpillar as a tadpole. Yes, the two are different kinds of beasties but they both share the process of metamorphosis. I felt he brought a new dimension to the discussion.

After reviewing the process of metamorphosis of a butterfly with the same group of children, we decided to act out the process. It took me a few seconds to figure out what the actors were doing when we came to the part where the “Mommy (their description) monarch butterfly laid her eggs.” I had expected them to squat like a chicken. After a moment of hesitation, with Molly as the leader, they pantomimed the process of laying an object on the table! Oh my goodness! Such creativity in spite of not being familiar with the process!


Several children made references to the butterflies being members of a family. This is such a sweet reference to the children’s most precious relationships. 


The Story of “The 5 Little Chrysalis Hanging in a Tree” being acted out by Brodie and Max


After extending the same  invitation to the children in Room 3,Tiffany, Meghan and I were positively floored when Brodie burst out in rhyme as he told us and all his classmates his tale of “5 little Chrysalis Hanging from a Tree.” He was quite eager to join me in the Art Cottage where he completed the poem and later, drew a chrysalis to illustrate it


Several 3 Day and 5 Day children were quick to pick up on the concept of symmetry and were VERY successful in drawing absolutely, gorgeous, easily recognizable monarch butterflies. As careful observers, the children noted where the eyes were situated on the butterfly and carefully drew the black veins found on the wings. After spending lots of time in the beginning of the year mixing colors in the Art Cottage, our artists were able to successfully mix the watercolors to create just the right colors found on the wings of a monarch butterfly.


We are now taking that ability of color mixing to our palette of tempera paint available to the children painting at the easel located in the Outdoor Atelier.  After enjoying a tray of colors inspired by fall, several color specialists are working together to create a monarch palette. I love how children are noticing the finer details found on the butterfly. Did you know that there are little white dots that appear on a monarchs wings? It was essential that white was added to the palette.


“We need an orange and a darker orange.” ~ Sophie 

In the week to come, I will be offering an invitation to the Day children in Room 2 and the children in Room 4 to join the Monarch Committee. What do I expect, want, or hope to learn from the children about the monarch?   Really, none of the above. It is all a wonderful journey, with the destination unknown and new surprises around every bend!  

With Joy! 



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