(I’ve been sharing our butterfly adventures from week to week. You can see earlier installments here and here. You should know that we named all of our caterpillars and the favorite was named Bob Weezer.)
The day had finally arrived! Three of our four monarch caterpillars had transformed into butterflies and although we weren’t able to witness their emergence, we were still enchanted by their presence in the classroom. After giving them a day to strengthen up, and after a lot of oohing and aahing over their beauty, and a lot of calling out with excitement whenever they flapped their wings or decided to fly from one side of the enclosure to the other,
I we decided it was time to send them on their way. There was some last minute concern expressed that the late-to-pupate Bob Weezer, who still remained tucked into his tidy chrysalis, would be lonely without the others. After some debate, we all agreed that the other butterflies needed all the time they could get to begin their migration. Bob Weezer was going to have to tough it out.
I gathered up the butterfly tent and my students got in line. As we walked outside, I heard a student whisper under her breath, “I’m going to miss those little bundles of love.” We wandered over to one of the school’s flower gardens, chattering the whole way. Then, lo and behold! What did we see there?
The kids cheered! This monarch was already happily gathering nectar in the garden. We all interpreted this as a positive sign.
I set down the butterfly tent in a nearby grassy spot.
“Shhhhh!” whispered all the kids as they huddled around.
“Ready?” I asked.
“Ready!” they whispered back.
I unzipped the tent and immediately one butterfly flew out and soared into the blue skies. The kids jumped up and waved frantically. Within moments it was out of sight, but their cries lingered.
“Goodbye! Goodbye!” they called.
Mere moments later the second butterfly had joined its comrade, escaping the confines of the tent and flying briskly away to the cheers of our class.
We turned back to the tent. The final butterfly wasn’t as eager to leave. We watched and waited.
“Come on! Come on!” the kids coaxed.
Some of them grew tired after a few minutes waiting and wandered off to examine the gardens, but quite a few still gathered around. They whispered to the butterfly.
“Come on, little guy. It’s okay!”
“You can do it!”
“It’s okay to be scared, but you’ll be okay. Just try.”
My heart melted just a bit. They were so earnest and concerned.
Finally, with their encouragement, the third butterfly stepped closer and closer to the opening and then leapt into flight with a dazzling flutter of wings. It soared up up up! The kids cheered again and jumped and hooted and hollered, waving furiously the whole time. After a moment or two of wild celebration, I zipped up the tent, rounded them up, and we headed back inside.
We walked back into the classroom with our tent, which seemed sadly depleted now.
One lone pupa hung from the top.
“Well,” said a student, “At least we still have Bob Weezer.”