We started off by observing monarch caterpillars. I never formally introduced the caterpillars to the entire class, but waited to see if the kids noticed and became interested in them. Of course, they did right away, and the science table was a popular choice during Choice Time. (Choice Time is at the end of they day, and is a time where the students can pick where they would like to play/learn and are free to switch activities whenever they want.) Below are pictures of the science table, as well as the scientists observing and documenting what they see.
We talked and read books about the butterfly life cycle, and many of the students already knew a lot about metamorphosis. It was really exciting when the caterpillars formed their chrysalises.
And then one day, they emerged! It was actually over the course of several days, and one of our school parents (who also happens to be a scientist) took home the butterflies over the weekend to take care of them. She then came back to help us release the butterflies. We had to do it quickly because the monarchs needed food and cold/rainy weather was approaching.
The best part of the entire investigation was release day. Our scientist volunteer showed us how to use pipettes to move sugar water into a tube for the butterflies.
Then each kid dipped a Q-tip into their jar of sugar water.
The butterflies were attracted to the Q-tips, and each student got to carry a butterfly from the picnic table over to the flower garden to release them. It was very magical to hold a delicate butterfly!