Waldorf at Home: Painted Ladies

I’m feeling drawn to going back to sharing bits of our homeschooling journey here again, a habit that I’ve kind of fallen out of in the last year or so.  We’ve been kind of gearing up to start for the last couple of weeks, but are officially starting our first day of school tomorrow!  Until I have more to share from this year, I’ll share the little snippets I’ve gathered from last year.

Above are some pictures from a nature study a couple of months back.  I didn’t get any pictures of the big boy’s Main Lesson books.  Included in them were:

  • a diagram of the parts of a butterfly
  • a glossary of butterfly terms
  • an essay on metamorphosis
  • a life cycle diagram
  • sketches of our painted ladies at each stage of development
  •  and a daily observation journal

Galen drew pictures in his nature journal, by request, throughout the process.  And Màiri drew pictures on random scraps of paper of her own accord.

One of our butterflies fell out of it’s chrysalide as it was emerging and landed on it’s back.  It was one of the first to emerge and we were hesitant to interfere for fear of causing more problems.  Eventually we realized that he wasn’t going to be able to right himself and time was running out for him to stretch his wings before they dried.  After several attempts, we did get him turned over, but too late.  His wings were permanently disfigured, though better then they would have been as he was able to straighten them some.  “Crumple-wing” quickly became a family favorite.  There was a long and thoughtful debate about what to do with him when it came time to release the butterflies.  He was only able to flutter about a foot off the ground and generally only in an awkward circle.  He would be very easy prey.  But ultimately we decided that some time in the wild was better then a longer life in captivity.  We set him up in the garden with food nearby and kept a close eye on him.  He lasted a few days.  One morning we woke up to find nothing but a wing.  The life span of a painted lady butterfly is 2 weeks, so all things considered he didn’t make out too bad (around 6 days total inside and out).

It was a fascinating experience.  We are thinking of raising preying mantises next.


4 thoughts on “Waldorf at Home: Painted Ladies

  1. Tanya

    We reared Painted Lady’s as well this past spring. Only ours didn’t fair as well as yours. Out of 6 larvae, only 1 made it to maturity. It was a bit disappointing for us all, but the one butterfly that did survive was well loved and on the day of the release, everyone was sad to see her go! I have a friend who reared praying mantises with great success. That is on the list for next spring for us as well :-) I wish you a wonderful start to your home learning year!

  2. MamaAshGrove

    What a great project, and tailored to all ages! I love the feet butterflies- my littlest two would love to do that project.
    So sad about crumple wings- yet such an important lesson too. Each time our children experience something like this, they grow, and gain compassion.

  3. Melody Post author

    For the feet I didn’t tell them what we were doing and then it was a big surprise that their footprints turned into butterflies overnight. :)

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