Early Childhood Gardening

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  • 1.  caterpillars

    Posted 09-07-2021 04:03:00 PM
    Hello Everyone!
    I am wondering how everyone keeps caterpillars safe from little hands?

    We planted fennel and the caterpillars showed up right away! I got really excited and showed the children. Within about 10 minutes a sweet two year old had smushed them both.

    Now I have some shear fabric draped over them. The caterpillars are safe and growing, but I wish I could let the children see them.

    Nina Moench
    DIG Childhood Center

  • 2.  RE: caterpillars

    Posted 09-09-2021 11:19:00 AM
    Hi Nina,
    We purchased RestCloud butterfly habitats from Amazon. They are very inexpensive, come in different sizes and come with plastic tubes to hold cuttings for the caterpillars to feed on. They are mesh (some have a clear plastic window) so you can observe the caterpillars inside. You can take cuttings of the fennel and place them in the habitat with the caterpillars on them. When ready to transform, the caterpillars will go to the top of the habitat to form their chrysalis. They will hatch into butterflies in about 10-14 days and you can release them back into the garden. We just fostered 8 monarchs from egg to small caterpillar stage that we found on the milkweed in the school garden that my wife and I run. We put them in the habitats, observed and documented the process, and then released them back into the garden after they hatched.  It was a great learning experience and the children were able to observe the entire process.

    Rob Terry

  • 3.  RE: caterpillars

    Posted 09-28-2021 12:19:00 PM
    Hey there,
    Age 2 is pretty unpredictable in regards to touching things. When I teach nature or garden ed, we talk about how we "Observe and do not disturb." There are so many things we can touch while gardening, thank goodness, so keeping little hands busy often helps. With the 3s and 4s I work with, and older ages, I stress what they CAN do or should do, such as using gentle hands, or keeping their body on their own body, or only looking with our eyes.  I stress that only the teacher handles wildlife, if needed, to prevent insects from being overhandled. This tends to prevent most mishaps.

    Teresa Brown