What pre-schoolers experience while learning about Monarch Caterpillars

Children feel great joy as well as gaining heaps of knowledge from learning about and observing the metamorphosis of the Monarch butterfly.

They learn to care and show empathy towards the animal kingdom. They are drawn to the monarchs as they are a harmless yet beautiful creature, and caterpillars are not too creepy for them, or too tingly if placed on their hand.

Having monarchs and caterpillars around is an excellent way of teaching young children about the insect life cycle, food requirements, pest control and overall awareness of the world around them.  We need children to be taught about the importance of caring for the Monarchs as they are an endangered species.

Children show incredible protectiveness towards these tiny living creatures as the caterpillars grow and change. Showing children how to grow swan plants and have a butterfly garden at home will hopefully give them knowledge to pass on to the next generation. Children like to care for animals and insects, but not all children have pets at home, so this gives them a sense of responsibility early in life.  Children soon become very involved and check daily on their plants. They also get so excited counting the number of caterpillars and chrysalises they have!

Monarchs offer a compelling introduction to insect life cycles, the details of ecosystems and food webs, and the balance of nature. It gets children into the great outdoors, discovering other plants and creatures.

Having butterflies at home or around the classroom shows children that the odd caterpillar or chrysalis could die and they have to be careful with all insects as they can be delicate. Through learning with the Monarchs, children also take an interest in other insects and ask many questions. This is great as they are having to think and brainstorm about how the animal kingdom works and how humans have an effect on other animals and the environment around them. A sense of belonging is evident when all the children gather together around the table, studying the caterpillars or chrysalises.

They will talk, and ask questions amongst themselves, learning together, and if they don’t know an answer to their questions they can find books on insects and butterflies at their school or local library. Metamorphosis is also a great starting point for artwork to represent the learning on the Monarchs and caterpillars and children will really get involved, expressing what they have seen and learnt in class.  The children take the artwork home and share with family and friends and may also want to create a butterfly garden.

In modern urban life, there’s very little opportunity to interact so closely with nature. By bringing monarchs into the classroom you are incorporating science, high end thinkers, expression within their artwork, and maths. Monarchs can stimulate new forms of discovery within children and help them make connections to the natural world around them. The follow-on effect is they will want to plant vegetables and flowers from seed, and help their parents in the garden, sharing the same interests and being part of it all. 

I have talked to a wide range of children from 3 to 9 years of age over the last year.  I see their joy when I’m teaching them the fascinating facts about Monarchs. I witness in their eyes how they truly do care for their planet and the caterpillars. I see their curiosity and their gentleness when I give them a magnifying glass, so they can see the caterpillars up close. For this, I will continue teaching, I can relax a little knowing there are so many amazing gifted teachers out there teaching the children about nature from an early age, with so much drive and passion. It makes me feel so blessed they are surrounded by nature in their classrooms and in their outdoor areas.  Some children I have taught twice and I’m astounded how much they remembered from my last talk.

I see a beautiful energy of enthusiasm from the children when I enter their classrooms all wanting to ask me questions, excited that I bring in real caterpillars on the swan plants and nectar flowers. Rushing to tell me how many swan plants they have at their home or tell me the interesting places where they remember seeing their chrysalis hanging. I love listening to their stories about raising caterpillars with their family.

If you’d like more information on how to raise Monarch caterpillars alongside your children FAQ, all about swan plants, sowing seeds, and how to attract monarchs in your garden, check out my book. It truly is an awesome resource.

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Book reviews from mums who have raised Monarch caterpillars with their kids alongside my book – a super resource.

“What a great book, easy to understand and easy to explain to our two preschool children. I was encouraged by reading your book to purchase swan plants for our garden and to do our bit to help the monarch population! A couple of things pop out to me in our journey with your book. We had chrysalis’ hanging on a few plants and we were about to go on holiday, but I also wanted the children to watch the butterfly emerge. Thankfully I was able to find out that in could be up to 21 days in this form (therefore could relax and go on holiday). Also when we were lucky enough to watch the butterfly emerge, the children LOVED it, they were transfixed, saying mummy is that a baby butterfly. When the wings had dried we were able to tell them that it was a male butterfly by the spots on the wings. Also the children learnt not to touch the caterpillars or the chrysalis. I feel having the information from your book made it easier to talk to the children and the answer any questions they have had, also I learnt a lot from your book. It also gave us a great opportunity to be outside with nature and seeing how incredible these insects are. So thank you very much”!!  L. Frickleton

“Raising Monarch butterflies for the first time has been a wonderful experience with my boys. The excitement on my 9 year olds face when he saw the first caterpillar on his swan plant was priceless. Little did we know that was just the beginning. They often raced home from school to see what had happened that day and I could often find them watching a caterpillar migrating so they could keep an eye on where he chose to turn into a chrysalis. I would never have thought my husband and I would be lying flat on our stomachs videoing (one on camera, the other on lights) a caterpillar turning into a chrysalis at 9pm at night!! The boys weren’t the only ones blown away by the whole process! We have planted all our swan plant stalks (which have regrown again) in the garden and are hoping for another season raising Monarch’s next year”. C Dagger

“Maria Romero’s book “A educational guide on Monarch butterflies” has been a great source of information on this journey. Maria is passionate about Monarchs and her enthusiasm is infectious. We bought a number of copies of her book so that the boys each have one in their classroom and we have one at home. It is a great resource and seems to have the answer to all questions about Monarch butterflies”.   R Maule

“My daughter Rosário was only one and a half when we bought our first swan plants and used Maria’s book to learn together. We had an amazing summer looking after our plants, witness the first Monarch butterfly visit our home and lay their eggs and watch the magic unfold. I didn’t really know what I was doing but the book gave me everything I needed. Believe it or not, before turning 2, Rosário could already say the word chrysalis and every time we had visitors, she’d show them all the new caterpillars, chrysalis and new butterflies in our garden. She knew not to touch the caterpillars and the plants and taught her friends to do the same. Thank you for the inspiration, Maria!”  S Eastmond

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