Volunteer Barbara Imrich didn’t have to ask the Parkway Elementary School pre-kindergarteners twice.
They all knew where the creepy-crawly bug in the storybook was going.
“I gotta go! I gotta go! I gotta go to Mexico!” they chanted in unison.
And when the creepy-crawly bug awoke after days and days of sleep and found she had orange and black wings, the pre-kindergarteners knew where she was headed.
“I gotta go! I gotta go! I gotta go to Mexico!” they called out again.
The lesson about the butterfly life cycle only became more engaging after opening with Sam Swope’s book “Gotta Go! Gotta Go!” and giving each pre-kindergartener their own monarch butterfly ring.
Rotating through four stations set up in the school’s library media center, the students learned more about butterflies and practiced skills such as counting, comparing and contrasting.
Hosting the lesson in the school library was intentional and the result of collaborative planning by pre-kindergarten teacher Michelle Schoemaker and library media specialist Kristin Hildum. Both want the young learners to see all the books available at school, learn how to use the library and view the space as another fun place to learn.
They held butterflies in their bare hands.
They looked closely at butterfly wings and a chrysalis.
They counted down ten little butterflies as they flew away one by one.
They compared and contrasted the colors, shapes and sizes of butterflies.
They sorted and sequenced cards to show understanding of the life cycle.
“They are really eager to get into things, which is natural at that age,” observed Imrich, who helped Hildrum and Shoemaker plan the lesson.
Imrich, a retired Virginia Beach City Public Schools librarian, shared ideas from her volunteer work with Lynnhaven River NOW’s SPAT (Science Preschool Adventure Time) program at the Brock Center. She, Shoemaker and Hildum are already planning to offer more curriculum-aligned lessons on owls, shells, plants and the five senses – all in the library.
The pre-kindergartners lined up to return to their classroom with big smiles, butterfly crafts and new knowledge.
“They are caterpillars first and then they turn into butterflies!” shared one student.
“They have wings. They fly!” said another.
“I held one!” remarked a third student, still in awe of the experience.
That’s exactly what Hildum hoped to see and hear.
“I loved for them to see the possibilities of the library and to establish that relationship with the library,” she said. “They see it as an exciting place where they can learn new things. For me, that’s really powerful.”