Bender's Butterfly Science Garden

June 01, 2023



Observations of Metamorphosis – 5.25.23

Thanks again to a generous grant from Bender’s Scientific Fund of the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region, the children in our school are amid a fascinating journey of raising butterflies from tiny caterpillars. This hands-on experience has ignited their curiosity and deepened their understanding of the wondrous transformations that occur in nature. From the moment they received their caterpillars, the classrooms have eagerly observed their growth, marveling at each stage of development. They have watched in awe as the caterpillars formed chrysalises, patiently awaiting the magical moment when vibrant butterflies emerged. Through this grant-funded project, our students have not only learned about the life cycle of butterflies but also gained valuable lessons about patience and responsibility. It is a true testament to the power of experiential learning and the positive impact that grants can have in enriching the educational experiences of our young learners.

Each day, some classroom’s caterpillars are just getting settled into their chrysalises, with other classes observing their emerged winged beings for the several days. Some classes are now newly chrysalised, while other classes are releasing.  The sky around Crossroads is filled with painted ladies, and some of them have found shelter in the houses the classes made, or rest in the plants which are surrounded by rocks the classes have painted.

From Caterpillar to Butterfly: The Magical Journey Inside the Chrysalis – 5.15.23

Inside a chrysalis, a remarkable transformation is taking place. It is the final stage of a butterfly’s metamorphosis, known as the pupa stage. During this time, the caterpillar undergoes a dramatic restructuring of its body.

Inside the chrysalis, the caterpillar’s body begins to break down, and specialized cells called imaginal discs, which have been present since its early development, start to activate. These imaginal discs contain the genetic blueprint for the butterfly’s adult form. As the cells multiply and differentiate, they give rise to the various body parts and organs of the butterfly, such as wings, legs, antennae, and reproductive structures.

The process of transformation is facilitated by the secretion of enzymes that help dissolve and reorganize the caterpillar’s body into a new form. The old body tissues provide nourishment for the growing butterfly structures.

Over time, the chrysalis becomes opaque and hardens, providing protection for the developing butterfly inside. Within the chrysalis, the metamorphosis progresses until the adult butterfly is fully formed.

The duration of this stage varies depending on the species of butterfly and environmental conditions, ranging from a few days to several weeks or even months. Once the transformation is complete, the chrysalis becomes transparent, and the adult butterfly emerges, ready to spread its wings and embark on its new life.

Witnessing the formation of chrysalises in classrooms provides a unique opportunity for students to observe and learn about the incredible process of metamorphosis and the wonders of nature’s cycles. Here are pictures from Room 12 this very morning.

Captivating Caterpillars – 5.11.23

Last week, our caterpillar kits arrived! Each classroom received a cup with tiny caterpillars and meal. By today, all of the caterpillars have quintupled in size and are making their ways to the top of the jars, to form their J shape. Here are shots of Room 1’s and 12’s cups as of today.


Bender’s Butterflies, Year 3 – 9.26.22

The Bender Scientific Fund of the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region has once again this year sponsored the Butterfly Science unit and garden at Crossroads. We couldn’t be more thrilled to continue running this beloved project.

This year’s plans include raising caterpillars to butterflies, painting butterfly houses and installing them, acrylic paints, adding more plants and various assorted sundries to attract and feed the butterflies.

If you’ve seen our progress the past 2 years, you’re bound to be as excited as we are about doing this again! Read below to learn about this amazing program.

More Butterflies!


After the four day weekend, the rest of our classrooms found that their butterflies had emerged. We didn’t catch pictures of them all, but again, we’ll update you with as many pictures here as we can.


Releasing Butterflies


Many of our butterflies began emerging over the weekend, and were beautifully formed by Monday. Classrooms have different times planned throughout the week to give students time to observe the transformation and behavior of the butterflies. As they release, we’ll update with as many pictures as possible.



We have butterflies! It’s very exciting! In some cases the children were able to observe a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis.

5.19.22 Now in J Form

In most classrooms the caterpillars are now in the J shape, buttoned to the circular sheet of heavy tissue that came in their jar, and now carefully positioned into the butterfly tents to spin their chrysalises.

We’re Raising Caterpillars!


The caterpillars have arrived! Each classroom and the clinic have a jar that has caterpillar food in it and several baby caterpillars. The babies will eat and grow, eat and grow until it’s time for them to each wind up like a j and spin their own chrysalis.

Classes and clinic are also decorating butterfly houses again. This year we ordered sturdier houses, which will be painted, sprayed and attached to a new structure that is being built for us by an amazing volunteer.

Teachers will decide when the time is right to release their butterflies. We promise some pictures!

We’re grateful to the Bender Scientific Fund of the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region for their grant to sponsor our Butterfly Science unit and garden again this year!


5.25.21 School-wide Butterfly Release

Today, at 1:00, all of the classrooms came out and one by one set free the butterflies they raised. It was glorious to watch.

Kelly Young started off the celebration by expressing thanks to the Bender Science Fund of the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region, and we were so delighted to have Shelly Connolly with us for this special activity culminating the work of the classrooms and the clinic these past months.

Enjoy the pictures!

5.21.21 Early Emergers Release 

We had a release of our early emergers this morning. Room 2 and Room 8 both came out to the Bender’s Butterfly Science Garden this morning and said “bye bye” to their butterflies. Releasing them was so exciting and seeing them fly off was beautiful. We put a fruit cage on the fence to lure them to stick around in our garden, and to find the houses the classrooms have built.

Also today, we were able to capture the emergence of a butterfly in Room 11! Stay tuned for a video!

And many other classrooms are starting to see their butterflies emerging.



Over the weekend, Room 8’s butterflies emerged! One butterfly in Room 2 has emerged overnight and is feeding on its first strawberry this morning! Another is emerging now!




Based on the fact that our caterpillars are still forming chrysalises we are going to push back our release date to Tuesday, May 25th. We are hopeful that all of our butterflies will be ready to go then, and that this new date will give us a few days to observe them. We will share video and photos with you here!

Thanks to the Crossroads staff members who have helped make the garden ready for the butterflies by adding plants and mulch, and to the classrooms and clinic kiddos for making butterfly houses for the butterflies to rest in.


It almost goes without saying that butterflies are among the most beautiful creatures on our earth. We love to watch them dance among flowers and tickle our imaginations their colors and flutters. Butterflies also makes for a fascinating science theme for children. The process of metamorphosis is one that enthralls learners of all abilities and ages. In fact, growing butterflies through the life cycle of egg to chrysalis to caterpillar to butterfly gives kids in the classroom an opportunity to observe and comprehend the life cycle of not only butterflies but other living things. For years, individual teachers have purchased butterfly kits to do just that with their classes.
But this year we were able to create a project for the whole school to do together, to grow butterflies from caterpillars and release them into our own butterfly garden. We appealed to the Bender Science Fund of the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region. They accepted our proposal and we are in the stages growing our caterpillars right now.
Here are some pictures of our caterpillars as they first arrived and after several days of eating and growing. Some are already in the chrysalis and some are positioned to spin them really soon.
We are planning to release these on May 19 at 1 PM and have invited the foundation to be with us when we do.
In our butterfly garden we have planted several new plants. Some are host plants, like milkweed, others are nectar plants, like butterfly bush and trumpet vine.
In the classrooms, children built butterfly houses from kits that we were able to purchase, and they painted them beautifully to attract the butterflies. We are hoping that some of the butterflies will stick around in our garden when they are released.
This is a work in progress; just like a butterfly’s life it is a metamorphosis in itself. Families and friends can help by donating host plants (search online) and by volunteering to weed and maintain the garden.

9.28.21 Crossroads Center for Children is delighted to announce that we have received a grant to create a butterfly garden. We’re naming it after the grantor! “Bender’s Butterfly Science Garden.”

We’ve received a grant to fund a favorite science theme that many classes have done over the years – BUTTERFLIES.

The grant allows for each class to have a butterfly kit to raise caterpillars to butterflies and then release them into our butterfly garden. The butterfly garden will be an extension of our garden; in the area where the lilac trees and the herbs are we’ll add 5 new plants to attract butterflies. The plants will be planted in early springtime.

Each class will also get a butterfly house kit to build, paint and install. With the help of some volunteers in our community, we’ll install the houses, also, in early spring. Installation will involve attaching the houses to wooden posts and hole-digging to put the posts in the ground. If anyone reading would like to help with this, please reach out to

The butterfly kits come with caterpillars to raise while the students learn about butterflies and their life cycle. When the butterflies are ready for release they will have a sweet and beautiful place to live.

While we have several months before we’ll order the kits, teachers and TAs are already counting on being able to do the project, and are grateful to the Bender Scientific Fund of the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region.

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