Sunday, October 7, 2012

Discover the Butterflies

Using Butterflies to Understand Life CyclesThis area looks like just another passageway.  Through that blue door is the business office of the International School of Morocco.  However, the area with the grass, leaves and trees is a sanctuary of real, every day, child centered learning.  Every morning and afternoon recess, there is a gaggle of students in this area, feeding the rabbits and tortoises, watering the plants, and most recently watching the caterpillars.  There is milkweed planted at the far end, near the blue door, and it is literally covered with caterpillars.  There are about 30 – 40 caterpillars eating every leaf they can get to.  The plants aren’t so pretty these days, as they have been stripped of their leaves!  Now, we are seeing chrysalises forming everywhere.  The 3 year old class literally stood and watched a caterpillar shed his skin and become a chrysalis.  Each day the kids sit and watch Using Butterflies to Understand Life Cyclesthe caterpillars, watch the chrysalises, watch the butterflies and learn first hand about life cycles, respecting animals, observing Using Butterflies to Understand Life Cyclesnature, etc.  We don’t actually teach these skills until our life cycle unit at the end of the year, but the kids have learned during recess, this “down time”, “non-teaching time”, this time that many teachers, parents, and school officials feel is “wasted” than we could teach them in months and months of intense teaching.  Recess is definitely not “wasted” at my school!
A few of the chrysalises have been “rescued” from falling off of dead leaves and are now residing in our classrooms, where students can watch even more intently as the chrysalises become butterflies.  Once the butterfly comes out of the chrysalis, we will bring them out to this garden, release them, and hope they come back to plan more eggs so that the students have this joyful real life learning every year.
What do your student “discover” at recess?
Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources