Are you looking for outdoor activities to do with the kids? Maybe get a little vitamin N (for nature) as Tim Gill (of Rethinking Childhood) says? Wondering where to start?
I’ve got a question for you!: Have you gone looking for butterflies lately?
Why Kids Love Looking for Butterflies
- They look so cool
- They are slightly mysterious
- They are beautiful
- They are a lovely challenge to try and catch
- They aren’t around all the time
- They are allusive
- When combined with some interesting facts and/or an identification guide, kids really get into the hands on learning experience of hanging out with butterflies.
Where to Look for Butterflies
Butterflies like flowers. (They like Milkweed!) They prefer less wind and generally, lower plants. They love a nice warm sunny area that is full of nature. This could be a ditch out in the country where wildflowers grow or in an urban butterfly garden. (Some zoos have butterfly gardens along with information guides.)
How to Identify Butterflies
You can use a butterfly identifying website (which includes caterpillars!), a butterfly identification guide (The Lone Pine Press books are fantastic up here in Canada), as well as asking a local butterfly fanatic.
The dusting on butterfly wings is vital to their health as is the main vein on their wings. If handled roughly you can fatally injure a butterfly or moth. So be gentle. You can use a lightweight butterfly net or gently cup your hands around a butterfly. If you want to observe them in a jar for awhile, be sure to punch air holes in the lid.
My Favourite Butterfly Moment
As a kid we were always catching Northern White Skippers (I think that’s what they were). There would be tons in the alfalfa and clover that grew in the ditch at the end of our driveway and along the grain elevator’s access road. There would be hundreds there every year. We’d gently cup them in our hands and sometimes add them to a jar we had decked out with a stick, grass, and a few flowers. One year I went out the backdoor to release the butterfly I had been watching in the jar. As I released it, it flew up and out, paused, came back and landed on my nose for a few seconds as if saying, “Thank you.” And then off it flit, back to its friends.
How about you? Are you a butterfly nut? How about your kids?
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