The Very Hungry Caterpillars

The world of home ed takes us on some surprising adventures. Today for example we acquired some caterpillars from a friend who had posted something on Facebook. I'm not sure how she ended up with a pot full of the little creatures but they have been a fantastic learning resource for the children. 

Wren was super excited about the prospect of collecting caterpillars - in her eyes I think she saw them as new 'babies' to nurture! When I asked her to go and choose some clothes to wear she came back with her Giant Wiggle t-shirt, which of course had a great big caterpillar on the front of it. What a sweet thought - to make the connection between the fact we were picking up caterpillars and to then dig out her Giant Wiggle t-shirt which had a caterpillar on the front of it was just super! It inspired Jenson to also dig out his Giant Wiggle t-shirt but sadly he refused to wear it because he was too hot.

Speaking of Jenson, his mood was on the other end of the spectrum. Yet again he was suffering with the heat; tired and irritable would be putting it mildly. He has been like a lolloping, sweaty beast all week. He's not been able to get to sleep until gone 10pm and has been waking early. It's a familiar story I'm sure. Thank goodness I've not had to drag him to school in such a hot and bothered state. Ironically, despite the glorious weather there has been an increase in daytime TV. We've avoided the searing heat by staying indoors. We really have been able to do very little. Jenson in particular has found it tough going, even LEGO building has proved too much!

So the caterpillars were a bit of a struggle for him. I agreed to help him finish building his new LEGO set on the basis that he would then help me rehome the caterpillars. He didn't stick to this deal, which upset me, which upset him. Both Wren and the caterpillars waited patiently as Jenson and I slogged it out. He eventually came outside all be it very begrudgingly.

He did help collect various leaves and sticks to put in the caterpillar's new home but it was painful to watch. The heat was incredibly intense and Jenson clearly didn't appreciate being made to abandon his newly constructed LEGO set to forage for plants. 

The mood lifted when the tank was ready and the children got to handle the caterpillars. It was a super experience. Jenson is at an age where he can retain memories. The adventures we go on now are ones he may well remember when he's older and ones that may form an important part of how he remembers spending his childhood. A childhood full of positive experiences is one that will prove to be a rock for them as young adults. I'm perhaps more conscious than most about ensuring Jenson and Wren get this because I'm painfully aware of what happens when children don't.

I would describe Jenson's encounter with the caterpillars as joyful. They crawled all over his body, tickling his tummy and his arms. They are curious little creatures who are surprisingly quick when they want to be! Wren was equally as fascinated.

Once all the caterpillars were safely transferred to their new home, the children watched with fascination at these creepy crawlies! That took us right through to the afternoon, when I put a movie on for them. The heat was insane and the pair of them weren't much good for doing anything.

After the movie came some inventive play. Sock snake was transformed into a fossil and both Jenson and Wren spent a significant amount of time pretending to unearth this special object from the ground. It was brilliant to watch. Clearly our recent trip to the Gloucester Museum for a talk on dinosaur fossils hadn't been a complete waste of time, although it did feel like it at the time. Jenson only lasted for ten minutes before pouring a glass of water into Wren's welly after which we left. 

The next saga started just before dinner time. Jenson was distressed by something and had called for me. He showed me a nasty bite mark on his upper arm. It was red, bruised and the teeth marks went quite deep into the skin. Turns out it was self inflicted. This apparent self harm has had me worried ever since. Jenson is prone to anxious outbursts and this one was brought on because he said he was scared of being stung by a bee. He has been stung by a bee and a wasp, the later being quite recently. I'm not sure how much truth there was in it but it made me feel pleased that we have the wildflower meadow so he can learn about how vital these insects are for us and the environment.  

Much as we've enjoyed the sunshine this week, I'll be glad when the heatwave breaks. One of the great things about home schooling is that it is so forgiving. If Jenson has terrible sleepless nights on the trot there is no pressure on him to have to do anything the next day except get through it without throwing too many punches at Wren and I. Well, it would be fair to say that a lot of punches have been thrown as emotions have boiled over. I'm working tomorrow which will give us all a reprieve before Friday, when temperatures are set to be cooler. I can't wait!

Friday 28th July 2017

So it's been just over a month since I first posted this blog and in that time we have watched the caterpillars turn into cocoons. The first one changed on Wren's birthday - 27th June - and we were so excited! Sadly not all of them were successful during metamorphosis - this one looks to have been munched on by another caterpillar and still looks juicy! 

Since then they have been gradually hatching and turns out most of them were moths. 

Sadly not all of them made it. Here is one that died as it was breaking out of the cocoon. I'm not sure what happened to it but it was fascinating for the children to see. 

And here's a little caterpillar Jenson found in one of the blueberries he picked from our garden - he almost gobbled the little creature up!