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Infant - Month #34

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Butterflies & the Birds and the Bees

By Mary Perrin, edHelperBaby

  Encouraging Your Child's Development

       As your toddler begins to edge up on three years of age, he is very active and curious about the world around him, especially when it comes to nature.  From bugs to plants to the rain clouds in the sky, his daily dose of vitamin E is filled with new discoveries and questions about the great outdoors.  Hand your child a shovel, pail, butterfly net, and a small plastic magnifying glass and take a walk outside.  Within minutes he will be trying to get you to see what he has so quickly discovered.  The following activity will help your child understand the life cycle of a butterfly and how plants, animals, and the environment work hand in hand.  Create the following book and make the butterfly craft in conjunction with taking a nature walk to witness the beauty of a butterfly itself.  To learn something new means to involve your child in the process physically (taking a walk), mentally (reading new information), socially (your conversation surrounding the topic), and emotionally (having a relaxed state of mind.)  Enjoy your journey together as your child discovers new things for the very first time!

       Follow the link and download the Monarch Butterfly:  King of Butterflies printable book. The following activity will guide you in helping your child understand the life cycle of a butterfly, match like objects, draw conclusions, and recognize patterns in text.

       Materials: Nine different colored markers, two copies of the butterfly printable, scissors, tape, stapler, highlighter

       Prep Work:
  1. Staple one copy of the Monarch Butterfly:  King of Butterflies book together and set aside.  Hint: Placing three staples down the left-hand side of the book will further develop the skills for turning pages from right to left as you continue the activity.
  2. Discarding the first page/title page of the story, begin with the second page.  Cut out the butterfly and the last two lines on the page.  Now color-code the two objects for future use by tracing around each object with the same color marker.  Cut out the word "egg" and the last two lines on the second page.  Chose another color of marker and outline these objects.  Continue this process for the remaining six pages.  Here is a suggested list of objects to cut from each page, in addition to the last two lines on each page:  page 3, caterpillar; page 4, pupa; page 5, all three color words (outlining black with black and orange with orange); page 6, top portion of milkweed plant to include both flowers; page 7, bird; page 8, butterfly with travel case. Remember to color coordinate by outlining the picture and framing out the two lines from each page.

       Learning Process
  1. Ask your child what he already knows about butterflies.  Encourage him to think about what else he would like to know about them.  How many wings, legs, antennas they have, what they eat, where they live, how they grow, etc.
  2. Lay all the cut out pieces from the story on a table or on the floor in front of you.  Ask him, one at a time, to look through the pieces and find something he recognizes, something that looks new, and something that looks strange (pupa).
  3. Ask him to tell you what colors he sees, but don't elaborate any further on the color coding.  See if he can later successfully perform the activity without using it as a crutch.  You can give him that tool as a strategy for locating the correct text later on if he has difficulty matching texts.
  4. Begin reading the story together.  Encourage him to sit quietly, look at the pictures closely, and listen carefully until you are finished reading an entire page.  Once you finish, he will find the piece on the floor that corresponds with the picture on the page.  Tape the piece to the page over the other picture.  Next, reread the text and ask him if he can locate the text that matches it.  Obviously, he will not be able to "read" the two lines, but he may be able to match the text by the beginning and ending letters for each phrase.  If he has a difficult time matching letters, show him how to match the yellow outlined butterfly with the yellow outlined text.  Tape the text to the page.  He will probably find this process easier as you progress and he realizes the text covers the same last two lines each time.
  5. Once you are finished matching the pictures and the text to each page, work on rhyming words.  For example, begin with the word butterfly and point out the last part of the word "fly."  Fly rhymes with guy, try, my, etc.  Work for a few minutes on the other three-letter rhyming words and see if he is able to contribute.
  6. Now go back through and reread the story.  Using your highlighter, highlight the last word of the second line as you come to it.  Then, begin to read the third and fourth lines, but pause before saying the very last word.  "This word rhymes with the word I highlighted in yellow.  It sounds like home but it starts with an r.  It is (make an r sound)..."  As you continue, let him be in charge of highlighting the rhyming words.
  7. Give him the book to color or highlight when you are finished.

       In addition to this activity, there are a couple more great resources located on the edHelper link from above.  For a fun craft idea, download and print Baby Butterflies.  Your child will surely enjoy stringing butterflies together and hanging them for all to see, especially now that he has completed the activity above.  The butterflies will help him remember important butterfly facts and act as great conversation starters.  Also, Marv the Larv Gets His Wings is a fun story, too.  Check them out and give your child the opportunity to deepen his understanding of butterflies as they relate to the beautiful outdoors.


  From a Parent's Perspective
           As my older son attended "bug camp" for the week, I tried to involve my daughter in some buggy fun, too.  This butterfly activity was perfect.  On the exact same day he went off to camp to investigate butterflies, she and I sat on the floor with a butterfly book and its pieces spread before us.  She picked up on the picture matching very quickly but struggled with matching the text.  To help her, we talked about short and long sentences, beginning letters/words, and I went ahead and jumped to rhyming.  I pointed out the word on the page that the piece was supposed to match and related that word to the last word on the paper strip she held.  This was very helpful for the upcoming rhyming activity, which she was able to accomplish with a lot of guidance.  I also gave her the hint that the picture and the sentence strip were color-coded.  Once she realized that, matching the texts was a no-brainer.  I chuckled as we got to the page were I'd cut out the words orange, black, and white.  When I asked her to find the pieces that matched the picture, she told me there weren't any.  I assured her that there were not one, but three pieces for the page in the scattered pile in front of her.  She caught me off guard by saying, "Mommy, are you trying to trick me?  Those are not pictures, those are words."  She was absolutely right.  The pictures she needed to find were not illustrations but rather words, words that normally were only found at the bottom of each page.  She enjoyed reading and learning about butterflies.  She and her brother were able to compare butterfly facts and share crafts making it a win-win situation, which is important when you are not yet three and can't do things your six-year-old brother can do, like attend bug camp.


  Parenting 411
           Talking to your child about where babies come from can be a very difficult conversation to tackle.  Your thoughts will circle as you ponder the best approach.  The best advice is to consider how you will handle this topic before it occurs.  Do not ignore his questions.  Have a game plan.  Your goal should be to be as honest as you can but short and concise in your explanation.  You don't want to scare your child by giving him too much information.  Also, be confident in your explanation.  If you seem panicked or surprised by the question, he will most likely pick up on the fact that you are not telling him all the details, and he will most likely continue to pry for more information.  His determination will win him an answer to it one way or another. Whether you answer him or he randomly asks the cashier at the supermarket, he will find the answers he so desires.  To have the answer come from you will probably be worth more than the answer to the actual question itself.  How you approach these types of questions will begin to lay the foundation for sensitive conversations such as this one in the future.  Your desire to find a way to explain the answer to him will prove that you strive to establish a pathway of communication that is based on honesty and openness.

       Begin by having the discussion about how your family has a mommy and a daddy.  Mommies and daddies are able to work together to make babies.  Then use analogies to help answer his question.  Think of two things that each has a specific role but when they work together, they are able to create something totally new.  Consider his collection of toys, favorite foods, or favorite activities as springboards for this conversation.   Below is a beginning list of two things that when combined create something totally new.  Use these items as analogies for how two things (a mommy and a daddy) each have different parts that serve different roles in creating something new.  You don't have to go into the "act" but rather the basic understanding that all things have a function or role in the world...be general in your explanation!  Then you can easily turn the conversation away from the actual deed of having a baby into one that celebrates your pregnancy itself.  Explain to him how you knew when he was in your tummy.  How did you feel emotionally and physically?  Tell him what you loved about being pregnant with him, what surprised you the most about being pregnant, and how you anticipated his arrival.
  • Cooked elbow noodles and cheddar cheese = macaroni and cheese
  • Pen and paper = letter
  • Camera and light = photograph
  • Bread and a toaster = toast
  • Oats and water = oatmeal
  • Wheels and a frame = car, truck, etc.
  • Red and blue = purple

       Remember, it is definitely appropriate to be honest but vague and simplistic at the same time.  As your child gets older, you can add to the story.  If all else fails, you can always turn the question around and ask him how he thinks he got there.  If he is somewhat close, then simply validate his thoughts, which may be all he is really wanting anyhow.


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