We have been growing butterflies in our kitchen for the past 3 weeks. At the advice of my sister (preschool teacher and mom of 3 kids under 10), we ordered a butterfly kit – complete with mesh habitat and live caterpillars – and have been watching them grow on the kitchen counter.
It is amazing.
The kit arrived via regular USPS mail with a label “Urgent! Open immediately!” which of course we did. Inside was a jam jar sized clear container with 6 caterpillars inside. Upon being taken out of the cardboard packaging and placed on our bright, sunny kitchen counter, the caterpillars immediately started wriggling around and crawling up and down the sides of the plastic container. If this was all that had happened, my son, age 3-½, would have been happy.
But, of course, that wasn’t all.
Each morning we marveled at how much the caterpillars had grown overnight. As predicted in the kit’s instructions, they made their way to the top of the jar after about a week and formed their chrysalises, hard shells that protect them while transforming into adult butterflies. About a week after that, the real magic happened.
My son came running up the stairs faster than I’d ever seen him run before. His face held more excitement than it did on Christmas morning, and he was out of breath, talking so fast I could hardly understand. “MOM! Come downstairs! I need to show you something! Mom! MOM! Come!!!” Of course, I dropped what I was doing and ran down the steps behind him. He lifted his arms to be picked up for a better view and when I put my hands around him I could feel his little heart beating so hard I thought it might pop right out of his chest.
One of our butterflies had emerged. The next day, her sister (my son determined that both these butterflies were girl butterflies) came out, too. It has been truly fascinating to watch. Our little guy, 14 months old, has been enamored with the butterflies, too, as has our nanny. It’s almost unbelievable that this transformation happens, and that you can host it right in your own kitchen – beyond words.
For older kids, there’s a real science lesson to be had. For anyone who’s ever read The Very Hungry Caterpillar this experiment brings it all to life – quite literally. It’s simple, fun, educational, mess-free, and easily one of the best $20 we have ever spent.
Update: When we did release the butterflies, my little guy cried and cried! He was devastated that we had to let them go! His school did the same experiment and my son theorized (after many tears) that all our butterflies would meet up in the air together and become friends.