“Our care of the child should be governed, not by the desire to make him learn things, but by the endeavor always to keep burning within him that light which is called intelligence.” — Maria Montessori
As parents drop off their children to Miss Meghan’s Toddler classroom, the butterfly cage hanging from the ceiling was bound to attract attention. But this morning, a parent noticed something different – a butterfly was emerging from its chrysalis.
Throughout the day, children and teachers checked to see how many painted lady butterflies were now flitting about the cage. One of the toddlers happily informed everyone that the butterflies were drying their wings after they emerged from their chrysalises. The experience was part of the butterfly theme that’s been playing out in the Toddler classrooms at Montessori Tides School recently.
Many of the works in the Toddler classrooms have the butterfly theme. Miss Johanna said the butterflies are another way to engage the young children in the works that help them to develop such things as fine motor skills and visual discrimination.
“With the butterflies, we give them something to explore, something to focus upon, something that draws the child to do related activities,” Miss Johanna said. “When we notice that an interest has ignited, we work toward integrating the theme and related ideas, such as flowers, in all areas of the classroom.”
Art activities support fine motor skill development, and the students can pin punch a chrysalis, glue butterflies and flowers onto paper, or paint with butterfly stamps. Other butterfly-related items, such as puzzles, books, finger puppets and stuffed caterpillars, also find their way onto the classroom shelves and into the children’s hands.
“Of course, the whole curriculum supports language development, as each theme gives us lots of opportunities to be descriptive with our language for each activity and to tell stories,” Miss Johanna said.
The butterfly’s life cycle is shown through plastic figures of each stage, coloring pages, and, of course, the opportunity to watch it happen in real time. All of these activities support sequencing, which is a pre-math activity.
For Miss Meghan, the metamorphosis that insects, such as butterflies, undergo is a special experience.
“The butterflies offer an opportunity for reflection on the various changes all living things go through in life, including humans,” she said. “Sometimes the changes are big and obvious, and other times they may be small and subtle.”
She has enjoyed talking about the changes that both butterflies and humans experience during their lives with her older toddler class at group time.
The Toddler classrooms aren’t the only ones with butterflies this spring. The Primary children have been watching monarch caterpillars enjoy the milkweed in the newly planted butterfly garden. Miss Teya’s class also has been observing a monarch butterfly caterpillar that changed into its chrysalis form.
Spring is here, and the children are enjoying it and all of the butterflies it has flying through the season.