This morning, I am loading up my husband’s van and heading south to Taproot Farm for our annual summer Taproot Teacher Training that I co-host with Barbara Dewey of Waldorf Without Walls. I always feel almost giddy with excitement before I go. Every year is different and I love hearing the stories of so many Waldorf-inspired homeschoolers from all over the continent.

But before I go, I wanted to spend a little time with my caterpillars. Because they will not be the same when I return! While our little gathering of parents is transforming the way we teach and learn with our children, my caterpillars will be transforming into beautiful creatures with wings and preparing to fly away. The monarch caterpillar transformation.

Big Monarch Caterpillar

There are now seven or eight caterpillars in my little tank. One more came in on a milkweed leaf that I had gathered to feed the others. Before they “J” and then create a chrysalis, they eat and eat and eat!

They are such fun to watch at this stage. Sometimes you can see them shaving along the edge of a large milkweed leaf, row after row, until there is nothing left of the leaf but the spine.

Caterpillar Eating


Four of the caterpillars have now crawled up to the lid of the tank and are starting to “J” which is the first step in their transformation. They create this fibery webbing to attach themselves to something and then encase themselves in a beautiful emerald green, where they rest for about a week and a half. Then the glorious butterfly emerges!

Catties Making a "J"

Summertime Nature Study

If you want to explore this process at your house, here are the steps of this process at our house. This activity makes a great summertime nature study for the whole family.

Searching for Monarch Eggs

Watching Monarch Caterpillars Grow

Good-Bye Butterfly

And if you want a simple resource to guide you, below is my favorite book about each stage, full of beautiful photos of the life cycle and suggestions for finding the eggs, bringing them indoors, and then releasing the butterflies.

This image below is an affiliate link for your convenience. You can read my full disclosure policy here.

How to Raise Monarch Butterflied
How to Raise Monarch Butterflies: A Step-by-Step Guide for Kids by Carol Pasternak

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