Spring Garden pupils watch as butterflies form, flutter away


October 21, 1992|By PAT BRODOWSKI

Kindergartners at Spring Garden and Manchester elementary schools released dozens of tiger-striped monarch butterflies last week. As the creatures fluttered over neighboring flower beds, their instinctive migration had begun.

They'll travel south along the Appalachian Ridge and spend the winter in Mexico, said Spring Garden Elementary teacher Sylvia Griswold, and we might see them in the spring. Her students had watched the butterflies develop in their classroom. The release finished their study.

She stood in a circle of students who sang, "Goodbye, butterfly, we're glad to set you free," as the big orange wings sailed away, warmed for flight by the sun.

The butterfly was the first unit in a kindergarten science program new to Carroll County. Last July, 21 Carroll kindergarten teachers including Mrs. Griswold, Sue Lussier-Jones and Vivian Smith, all of Spring Garden, and Ann Whiteman of Manchester Elementary, tested the new hands-on curriculum with 100 eager 5- and 6-year-olds.

Dr. Paul J. Hummer, assistant professor of biology at Hood College, lent his expertise to the butterfly study and visited classrooms in recent weeks.

Scientific study at this level, said Mrs. Griswold, "is not to learn scientific facts but to learn to observe change." During the month of butterflies, new words, facts and ideas easily became the language of the children's study.

Students worked as teams. They wrote journals -- of drawings, lTC not words. What they saw every day was enhanced through songs, art projects, snack foods, or finger plays about the caterpillar, then the chrysalis, and finally the butterfly.

First they watched the puffy striped caterpillars "stuff themselves silly on milkweed," said Mrs. Griswold. It's their only food, she said. It also protects the butterfly. A diet of milkweed leaves gives the butterfly a terrible taste.

When the fat caterpillars stopped munching milkweed, each dangled by its hindmost feet. The enigmatic chrysalis stage had begun.

The hanging caterpillars encased themselves in a green capsule, jeweled with a row of golden buttons.

"It was like pulling on a sock," said Mrs. Griswold's classroom helper, Janet Griffith. The green case "slowly crept up" from the head to the tail, added Mrs. Griswold. Then the chrysalis twisted, wildly spinning to hurl away the old caterpillar tail and spin a silken holdfast.

"We stood watching this" with fascination, she said. "It took just 30 minutes."

Two weeks later, the radiant butterflies struggled out of the chrysalis, leaving a translucent gray shell behind. The children -- "We're scientists now," said one -- compared the striped, 16-legged caterpillar with the polka-dotted, winged butterfly.


Come, relax with warmed cider and sweet, moist black walnut cake around the electric fire at Springhouse Crafts, when Patty Knott and Sylvia Pumputis open their quaint shop for a second weekend, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 24 and 25. There are plans to be open again next month. They're at 4932 Stoney Lane, off Tracey's Mill Road, a scenic two miles north of Manchester.

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