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It's All About the Journey: Metamorphosis

Updated: Apr 5, 2023

For the last month I've been posting reels on instagram @drdianeadventures, taking friends on a journey through the life cycle stages of painted lady butterflies. Along the way, we learned some amazing facts about these beautiful and fascinating creatures, and discovered some wonderful children's literature and STEM/STEAM activity pairings we can do. To honor the release of the butterflies and the end of this project, I thought I'd highlight some of the books and activities we used and encourage you to check them out.

Fun Facts About Caterpillars, Butterflies, and Metamorphosis

  • Did you know that for every pound of human on earth, there are an estimated 300 pounds of insects? Or that the painted lady butterfly stays migrates from Africa to Northern Europe and that it can take up to six generations of the butterflies to make the round trip (That's like your great-great-great grandparents started the journey and you finished it!) Check out these facts and more in Steve Jenkin's Insects by the Numbers.

  • Did you know that a butterfly caterpillar is always hungry? It's constantly eating, grinding and breaking down food with its huge jaws. The caterpillar sheds its skin several times during its larva phase to keep up with its huge appetite and growing body. See glorious photographs, learn about camouflage, habitat, life cycles, and more in Seymour Simon's Butterflies.

  • Did you know that people in the Middle Ages believed that insects were evil? Check out the story of Maria Merian, a young naturalist who took the time to observe and document the life cycle of the butterfly. Margarita Engle and Julie Paschkis lovingly portray this real-life story in Summer Birds: The Butterflies of Maria Merian.

  • Find out why butterflies were made in Zora Neale Hurston's stunning The Making of Butterflies. This African American folktale is retold by National Book Award-winning author Ibram X. Kendi and beautifully illustrated by Kah Yangni. This board book is perfect for introducing the youngest of readers to the beauty of Hurston's storytelling and will spark curiosity in children about how things in our world came to be.

Looking for fun activities to try at home?

Ready to make some picture book connections?

As you may have guessed by now, I'm all about using beautiful, multicultural picture books to build connections to STEM and to the natural world. I'm going to share a few of the books we used for the Metamorphosis Project.

Post made by Handley Library about butterfly release and story time.

This is not an extensive list. There are many beautiful and rich books exploring many aspects of caterpillars, butterflies, and the insect world. I encourage you to visit your local library or favorite bookseller to check out the books I've listed for your own journey and insect investigations. But don't stop there! Share some of your favorite butterfly books and activities in the comments below. And enjoy the adventure!

Note: Some of the book links will take you to I am a affiliate and may receive a small commission if you make a purchase through these direct links. I list them here as a service for you in the hopes that you will visit your local library and support your independent book sellers (one of the reasons I love Bookshop).

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