Do you remember being little and finding out for the first time that a butterfly was once a caterpillar? Metamorphosis is so amazing and magical. Make sure that you share this amazing event with your toddlers and preschoolers by setting up a few fun and interactive activities. You don't just have to stick with butterflies -- other creatures go through metamorphosis as well. Just make sure that you make the activities simple and age-appropriate, or your little ones may metamorphose into bored, cranky whiners.
1. Life Cycle Puppet Show
Make good use of all those puppets laying around the house -- put them to work showing your little munchkins about metamorphosis. Try to combine groupings of different puppets so that they will show as much about the life cycle as possible for different creatures who go through metamorphosis, such as butterflies, frogs or ladybugs. For example, you can act out the different stages of the life cycle of a frog by starting with a tadpole puppet, then working up to a frog puppet once the metamorphosis is complete. Some toy stores even sell puppets that can change and flip around to show all of the stages of metamorphosis.
2. Metamorphosis Crafts
Crafts are an easy way to help your little ones understand about metamorphosis in a light but effective way. Use craft materials that are easy to work with but not over-the-top, such as paper plates, paper bags and construction paper. You can cut out pictures from a magazine of a caterpillar or tadpole, then paste the cut-outs onto a paper plate in the right order to show metamorphosis. Or create a paper-bag hand puppet for each stage of metamorphosis that your child can decorate and color with pieces of construction paper, washable markers or crayons.
3. Hatch and Release
If you are up for the challenge, you might consider raising a hatch-and-release creature that goes through metamorphosis. Let's face it, nothing demonstrates metamorphosis like actually seeing it happen firsthand. You can either go down to a local stream or creek to catch tadpoles yourself, or you can order them through any school-supply store. Keep the tadpoles in a freshwater aquarium environment with an area that sticks up out of the water for the changing tadpole to climb up onto. You can find tadpole food at any pet store. For butterflies, you will probably have to order caterpillars in the mail through a school-supply store because it can be hard to find a caterpillar in the wild unless you look for a long time. Keep the caterpillars in a netted environment, feeding them leaves and water until they hatch into butterflies. Release the frogs and butterflies back into their natural environment, unless you want a lot of extra pets on your hands!
4. Songs and Stories
Little children love to sing silly songs, so make this singing time educational by turning it into a lesson about metamorphosis. Songs like "Metamorphosis Song" by Gerianne Linden, "Metamorphosis" by Charlotte Diamond, or "Four Little Frogs" by Jean Warren will walk kids through the stages of metamorphosis in a lighthearted, fun and memorable way. Pretty soon, your toddler or preschooler will be singing about caterpillars, tadpoles and ladybugs changing all day long.
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