Saturday, March 23, 2019

BUTTERFLIES IN ROOM 6: Where Do Ideas Come From?

Jennifer Best, Kindergarten teacher at Haynes School for Enriched Studies
Several years ago, when I was doing an author visit at a school in Los Angeles, I met Jennifer Best, a kindergarten teacher. Each spring, her students learn about life cycles. Two years ago I spent time in her classroom while they were hatching chicken eggs in an incubator. That resulted in my book Hatching Chicks in Room 6. At the same time, the class was also raising Painted Lady butterflies from caterpillars, watching the caterpillars grow in a jar, turn into chrysalises, and, after a week or so, emerge as beautiful butterflies. It seemed like the perfect sequel to Hatching Chicks in Room 6.
As with the book about chicks, I realized that the best way to tell this story was with photographs. I had taken photographs for some of my other books, so I decided to do it myself. I embedded myself in Jennifer Best’s classroom, which enabled me to follow the process and get the photos I needed. (A challenge in taking the photographs was that neither the children nor butterflies stayed still for long!) Spending so much time in the classroom also allowed me to interact with the kindergarten students, which helped me to target my text at the right level. The children’s enthusiasm was contagious as they learned about butterflies and had the thrill of releasing them outdoors and watch them fly into the neighborhood. I am extremely grateful to Jennifer Best for her cheerful cooperation in this project and for being my expert reader. I couldn’t have done this book without her.
Butterflies in Room 6 is a book for primary age children about raising butterflies in the classroom. This photo essay follows the process of metamorphosis from a tiny egg, to caterpillar, to chrysalis, and finally to the emergence of the adult butterfly. Children observe each stage up close as they learn firsthand about a butterfly’s life cycle. Then, when the butterflies are a few days old, the children release them in the school garden.
Raising butterflies from caterpillars is a popular project at home and in school, with supplies easily available on the internet or at many museums and nature centers. The book includes scientific information that is written at a level understandable to young children. It is ideal to use with STEM or STEAM curriculums.

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