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Butterflies, Butterflies, Butterflies…

A gift of a butterfly that was found in the garden became an important addition to the children’s lives. They wondered about the fact that it was dead, and how that had happened, but were also intrigued when the wind moved its body slightly and it appeared to once more be alive. The fact that it could be both dead and alive at the same time held no conflict for the children, who readily accepted the fluidity of this possibility.

The children observed closely, and then were invited to draw and paint the butterfly. When children draw they create representations of their experiences, observations, theories and emotions. Their images tell stories and communicate particular perspectives.

Children are drawn to mark-making, and they not only learn to draw, but draw to learn in order to make sense of the world. It is a cognitive process, because drawing is also thinking—it is just not possible to draw without thinking, making decisions, solving problems and engaging in critical reflection along the way. The children’s pictures are beautiful representations of the butterfly, but perhaps more importantly they are beautiful representations of the children themselves as noticers, thinkers and active explorers of their world.

To offer the children an opportunity to grow a deeper understanding and relationship with the butterfly, they were introduced to the overhead projector, and again invited to engage in drawing it—this time working together to navigate the complexities involved in drawing a projected image. There is always a moment of magic when the projector is turned off, and the lines and shapes on the paper come to life. This is also a moment of critical reflection as missing parts and lines not yet drawn become obvious, and the children had to work together to decide what they still needed to draw.

When the children returned to the giant drawings, the conversation was about colour, and working in groups they decorated and painted their line drawings into beautifully vibrant works of art.

As they painted, we wondered together about where the colours on the butterflies came from:

Chloe: They changed to butterflies, and caterpillars don’t have colours—just shapes. The colours come from where it growed.
Milla: I think they come from the cocoon—cause they have the colours there.
Alice: They change inside the cocoon—orange, pink..
Annabel: Rainbow!
Alana: They went to flowers and trees.
Madeleine: Maybe the colour of the cocoon makes the colours go into the butterfly ... maybe.
Phillie: When the caterpillar survives and makes a cocoon the wings spread out and that’s what makes the colour.
Molly: The colours come from the rainbow trees.
Phillie: How ‘bout the rainbow tree gets an envelope and writes it and sends it to the butterfly and then the butterfly just gets it and lives far away.

Children are born with minds and hearts open to the wonder of their world, and the creativity and energy to explore and delight in it. What a joy to partner with them in the experience!

Documented with care by Karen Winderlich, April 2022

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