Hands-on Homeschooling: Butterfly Gardens

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Posted on Apr 7 2015 - 1:00am by Megan
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Is there anything more beautiful than butterflies? They are truly some of the most enchanting creatures on earth. 

This spring, take your science outside by letting your kids plant a butterfly garden. There is a ton of learning involved and chances are, your child won’t even realize she’s actually “doing school.”

To me, this kind of real life learning is the best kind!

Hands-on Homeschooling: Butterfly Gardens

Create a Butterfly Garden

Luckily, you don’t need a lot of room to attract butterflies. You can start with a flower box or just add some plants to your existing landscape. In our backyard, my husband sectioned off an area by nailing together a couple of 2x4s. 

After you know where the garden is going, the next step is to figure out what you should be planting. Have your child research what kinds of butterflies live in your area and let them choose which ones they’d like to see. 

Once you know what butterflies you’re trying to attract, it’s time to discover what types of plants they enjoy. Make sure to look for host plants (the kind caterpillars like) and nectar plants (the kind butterflies like). If you fill your garden with a mix of the two, the butterflies will stay around longer.

Decorating your Garden

Once you plant your butterfly garden, let your kids decorate it. A fun, yet simple idea is to make these beautiful stones to place around the garden.

Plant & Decorate a Butterfly Garden

You’ll need:

  • Stones
  • Acrylic paint
  • Clear sealant

Gather your supplies and make sure your stones are clean and dry. 

Choose a butterfly design that fits your stone. My younger daughter and I used two from one of the many “how to draw” books we own and my older daughter used skills she learned from previous art lessons to create hers.

First, we tested our ideas on paper, so we could make adjustments before working on the stones. We also took the time to pencil our designs on to the rocks.

Personally, I think that these two steps, while not necessary, are definitely worth the small amount of time it takes. 

DIY Butterfly Stones

Now that your design is on the stone, it’s time to paint!

Make sure to fill up your paintbrush while you’re working so you can dab the paint on to the stones, instead of brushing. This will make your butterflies stand out. To make outlining a breeze, just add a small, tipped cap to your bottle of paint. 

Let the paint dry and spray or paint a layer of clear sealant over the design to keep it safe from the elements.

After that dries, place the stones around the butterfly garden.

Learning about Butterflies

Of course, you’ll want your kids to learn all about the beautiful creatures you’re now attracting to your garden.

Jill has created this amazing All about Butterflies Pack, which you can use for your outdoor science lesson plan. This 80+ page pack will take your kids through the entire life cycle of the butterfly, teaching them everything they need to know along the way.

Gardening is a wonderful science lesson that many kids enjoy. Even if you have a less than enthusiastic gardener, giving him control over researching, planning, and planting a butterfly garden will most likely pique his interest, grab his attention and keep him motivated, creating the perfect environment for learning.

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