Monarch butterflies / kahuku at Sunbeam
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Over the warm summer days our Kidsfirst gardens are in full bloom. Pockets and pots of colourful, nectar-laiden flowers, and other bee and butterfly friendly plantings attract some of our favourite visitors – monarch butterflies/kahuku.
What’s not to love about these beautiful, orange and black winged creatures, gently fluttering on the breeze? And with their cheerful arrival comes so many fascinating learning opportunities too!
“Our tamariki were captivated watching the life-cycle of our kindergarten monarch butterflies play out in front of their very eyes,” says Kidsfirst Sunbeam Head Teacher, Neroli Gardner.
The four stages of the monarch butterfly/kahuku begin when an adult lays tiny eggs on a mature swan plant. The larvae hatch as adorable tiny, stripy green, white and black caterpillars.
“With the first sign of hatching - and a magnifying glass at the ready - tamariki are delighted to take a closer look at the new arrivals,” says Neroli.
Sporting a pair of perky, black quivering antennae, the caterpillars swiftly munch through the leaves to grow full and plump, before transforming into a pretty green and gold-fringed chrysalis (pupa).
“We remind our children to just look and not touch,” says Neroli. “Helping to instill kaitiakitanga - care, respect and guardianship for nature and all of the little creatures that we share our world with.”
“Waiting for our monarch butterflies to eventually emerge from their chrysalis takes time too - so it teaches tamariki patience!”
It's not just the amazing scientific aspect of watching the life-cycle that provides inspiration for little minds. From researching monarchs in books or online to playing dress-ups, doing jigsaw puzzles, creating art works or making enchanting little winged finger puppets, these butterflies are a popular sight at many of our kindergartens and early learning centres.
“There’s also links to maths, learning about size and the different stages that butterflies go through to grow,” says Neroli. “And literacy, as a children discover new vocabulary and begin to communicate what they observe.”
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