Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Special Needs Butterflies

Working in a special needs classroom, my kids provide quality entertainment every day. Take preschoolers who have so much personality and then add the different angles of special needs kids and you have a ton of comedians on your hands!! Every day I can find something that they do to laugh at....to say the least. Or a situation that occurs.

Well one such situation has provided plenty of entertainment for us teachers.

We did a bug unit a few weeks ago and we decided to order in some caterpillars so the kiddos could watch the transformation into butterflies. One of our books was The Very Hungry Caterpillar and they learned the process so we thought it would be neat for them to watch it firsthand! We ordered in 2 containers, each containing five caterpillars with food at the bottom of the container. One for the morning group and one for the afternoon group. We gave them names (which have since sorta become irrelevant...stay tuned you'll find out why!). And we waited for them to eat and spin their cocoons from the paper that lies at the top of the container. Part of the process is that you have to be gentle with them. In a classroom of special needs children, gentleness is something we work on quite often but we were SO proud of our kiddos for being so gentle and careful of the containers.

Until one afternoon when one of our kiddos, who is an adorable and amazing little girl in terms of how far she's come, but is sort of spazzy sometimes, accidentally knocked over the container. OH NO! We rushed to pick it up but unfortunately the trauma was too much for one caterpillar who was wounded by the food flipping over on him. But there was hope!! The others lived, we got the food back on the bottom, and then we put the containers on a shelf where the kids could see them but was safer in terms of the ability to knock the container over. They started weaving cocoons and the kids were SO anxious, checking every so often to check on them and watch them spin.

Unfortunately in the same container, two cocoons fell off for whatever reason. As teachers we were sad, there were three goners out of 10 caterpillars but we told our class that the ones at the bottom still might hatch (sometimes approaching death with children is a hazy area). Once all cocoons were spun, we hung the paper in each container at the top of a butterfly container and stuck the cup with the fallen cocoons to wait and see what happened.

On thursday during class one of our butterflies came out!! Tiana was the first to hatch.....though poor Tiana got stuck on a thread from her own cocoon and we had to cut the thread off, so now she has a big wad of cocoon stuck on her antenna. She's a little different, flies a little bit sideways, but she's alive!!! On friday, a couple more hatched, Fritz being one of them per request of one of our kiddos.

And then magic, on monday when we came back they were all hatched!! INCLUDING the ones whose cocoons had dropped from the top!! We were all amazed....we showed the kiddos, they loved them. We gave them flowers and apples to feed on beside the food in the bottom of the containers we placed in there.

Then at lunch, being the science nerd I am, I decided to more closely observe and watch the butterflies. I will admit I might be more fascinated by all of this than the kiddos are! I tipped over the container so the two could get out (unbenownst to me they can't fly for the first day or so because their wings are wet....). When I did, I realized that we have two more special needs butterflies other than TIana.

The first one named Free Willy we named so because both his wings are curved over to one side. To say the least, he can't fly, but he's healthy and flutters around and moves quite fluently.

The second one is more of a sad situation. We named him Mimsy, something after a South Park Kendall watched that centered around a character with Down Syndrome who was actually a smart little boy (all kids with Downs are smart in their own way) but this character was always hatching evil plots with his sidekick Mimsy. Anywho, Mimsy the butterfly has come to hold a dear place in my heart, because despite what I'm about to say, he's still alive and holding on though I thought he's kick the bucket in a few short hours after seeing him. Mimsy was born without half a wing on one side and chunks missing on the other side with his wings as a whole bent and mangled all over. On one side his legs curve under instead of our and he has one gimp antenna. AND the worst thing is that his transformation was never completed. The very end of his body is not a hard shell, but rather still the furry end of a caterpillar and the hard body is not fully formed, with it being red instead of brown. Poor guy.

But how appropriate that in our special needs classroom, we have special needs butterflies?!?! I found it too amusing.

And then when Kendall tried to release them today she spilt water all over the poor butterflies almost drowning them so we had to take them in to let them dry off and will try to release them again in a few days when the weather clears up.

Our butterflies are troopers, much like our kiddos!!

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