Three ways for preschoolers to develop an awareness of butterflies

Get reading!

Waiting For Wings, by Lois Ehlert

The text flows rhythmically, in perfect complement to the richly colored illustrations. Here is a little gem that covers the life cycle of the butterfly while following four different specimens through their transformation from egg to caterpillar and finally to distinctive beauties. Some basic questions about butterflies are also posed, with simple and factual answers than can be appreciated by a young audience. The crowning glory in this excellent book is a section on how to plant a butterfly garden. What fun! Ages 3 and up

From Caterpillar To Butterfly, by Deborah Heiligman

The setting is a classroom, and the source of wonder is the butterfly! Basic scientific facts are presented, with children’s interest maximized by their ability to relate to the students in the story. Another visually appealing introduction to the world of nature! Ages 3 and up

Monarch Butterfly of Aster Way, by Elizabeth Ring

The journey of one butterfly is charted, from a backyard in the United States all the way to Mexico! Young children will be amazed by the ability of such a small creature to make this incredible trip, particularly if caregivers can offer opportunities to explore a map or a globe ahead of time as part of an integrated curriculum. Find out how long it takes to travel this long distance, and interesting facts about the beautiful monarch butterfly. Ages 3 and up


Young children appreciate being thought of as responsible and important community
members, and they usually rise to our expectation of them.


Get thinking!

Non-threatening and delicate, butterflies can invite us to chase them and catch them, which often has a less than ideal outcome for the butterflies.  How can we support children’s interest in getting to know them better, in a way that is beneficial for all parties. What kind of food and shelter does a butterfly need to survive? Are there places in a child’s immediate neighborhood where butterflies find these resources? What time of year do they visit? How can we attract them to our garden? What plants can we choose, and how can we care for them? Young children appreciate being thought of as responsible and important community members, and they usually rise to our expectation of them. With appropriate child-sized tools for the garden, a preschooler can assist in basic garden chores; being an active learner means that lessons in which movement is involved are always appreciated. Use specific language when you plant flowers, and take the child’s lead when discussing the life cycle of these pretty insects. An integrated curriculum combines botany and biology with art, poetry and geography. Follow the migration paths of your local butterflies on a globe or world map. Help your child to think about the life led by the butterfly once it leaves your garden. It’s a big world out there!

Get outside!

Your own garden is a great place to start but, beyond that, other possibilities exist. Invest in child-sized binoculars and take a short walk close to a field of wildflowers. Keep notes on what you see, which can be used to produce drawings later. Learn how to practice inner discipline by sitting together and “making silence.” A butterfly will be less likely to keep a safe distance if you can render yourselves immobile, just for a few minutes. This kind of exercise also boosts self-confidence, by the way, as well as supporting a child’s emerging sense of self. Take a trip to a butterfly garden once your child shows readiness by being able to sit quietly for a few minutes at a time; this kind of advance preparation makes the visit more enjoyable for all!