Ready for a learning adventure? Greenville has some truly fantastic places to learn while playing and exploring. Roper Mountain Science Center is one of those places with so much to offer. From their Second Saturday events, to their planetarium and summer camps, there’s something for everyone. The grounds of the center, including the butterfly garden, are also open to walk and enjoy for free during regular business hours. Today KAG Contributor Maria Bassett gives us some ideas and activities to use when exploring the science center’s Butterfly Garden with our kids.
Disclaimer: Roper Mountain Science Center is a Kidding Around Greenville sponsor. This content is not sponsored.
On a rare hour of one-on-one time with my five year-old, we found ourselves on an impromptu butterfly hunt. I didn’t know much about butterflies at the time, so our category count went something like this: 5 blue ones, 4 brown with spots, 3 with squiggly stripes, etc. We had such an enjoyable hour exploring together, but I decided we could prepare a little and learn a whole lot more the next time.
The Great Butterfly Hunt
Here in Greenville we are blessed to have the Roper Mountain Science Center as a fantastic resource for homeschool students and traditionally schooled students alike. Did you know during regular science center hours, you can use the nature trails and outdoor spaces for free? That includes the butterfly garden, located beside the parking lot in front of the Harrison Hall of Natural Science. This is a great time of year to check it out, enjoy the beautifully landscaped garden, and see some butterflies. If you’d like to make it a homeschool adventure, try some of the books, ideas and activities below.
Make it Educational
Math: Draw the butterflies with colored pencils (maybe take pictures with a cell phone to reference later) and keep a tally count of how many of each variety you see. Once you return home, turn your tally count into a bar graph. Siblings can compare their graphs and see how they differ.
Science: Use some butterfly books or websites to help you name the different species of butterflies you see. If it’s too much to manage “in the field” just take pictures and look them up when you get home. The following resources may be helpful.
Discuss the butterfly life cycle before or after your visit to the garden. Here’s a great freebie coloring sheet of the life cycle.
Language Arts: Come up with some super sentences about butterflies. Make them factual or fictional. Use the bright colors and textures of the insects and the garden to dress up your sentences with adjectives. Look at how the butterflies move and what they do to pick some great verbs for your sentences.
This website deals with butterflies specific to our area, and has pictures that may be helpful to you when trying to name species.
The Life Cycles of Butterflies: from egg to maturity, a visual guide to 23 common garden butterflies (J 595.789 Burris) by Judy Burris and Wayne Richards -This book shows the life cycle of butterflies, but also shows pictures of common butterflies and areas where they are found. The Greenville libraries have many other fine books on butterflies with photographs under the call number J 595.789.
If you’d like to know a little more about the purpose of butterfly gardens, or the specific plants and landscaping you see at the garden, check out these sources.
This fact sheet from Clemson will give you a nice overview of what butterflies need, how butterfly garden’s meet those needs, and give you ideas for starting your own at home.
This portion of Roper Mountain’s website lists the host plants and nectar plants found at the science center’s butterfly garden. Many of these plants are labeled in the garden. Spend some time examining these plants.
What tip do you have when teaching little ones about butterflies?