Revisiting Tips for Raising Wild Butterflies

As it’s spring I thought it would be the perfect time to revisit one of my favorite articles and share some tips for raising wild butterflies. This experience was a fantastic experience and I was sad that we weren’t able to find any caterpillars during the fall – but don’t worry I plan on taking the boys to a local pond to collect some frog spawn (don’t tell Mommy!)


Raising Wild Butterflies

There are few things more exciting then exposing your child to the wonders of nature – it’s literally magic to them and will engage their curiosity in ways almost unobtainable elsewhere. Last fall Lucas found a number of colorful caterpillars in Nana’s garden. This particular species were fond of parsley and could always be found munching on the storks of the parsley bush. Lucas would go and visit them regularly and eventually wanted to take them home. So, reluctantly I gave into his demands (as we do!) and gathered up a caterpillar – soon to be accompanied by a second one. We took them home, knowing absolutely nothing about raising caterpillars, and encouraged Lucas to observe and draw.

See Also: Capturing Wonderings With our Mobile Devices: 3 Question Interview on Phoneography

However, after a few days things Lucas wanted to feed them, so we offered them some lattice, fruit, and even greens from the Dill family, but these guys are incredibly picky and would only eat the fresh goods from Nana’s garden. This meant a we had to run to Nana’s house every other day to top up on food, and the more they ate, the more they pooped – these things literally transformed into our pets.

Creativity in Children: Raising Wild Butterflies.
This is a picture of Lucas looking for the caterpillars

After a month or so I realized that they might want to form their chrysalis soon, so I took sometime to consult Google and added a coupe of sticks to their habitat in preparation.

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Literally two weeks later the magic happened and within a couple of days both had begun to form a chrysalis. First it was green, but then it took on the same shape, color, and form of the branch that I had added – it was really cool! As you can imagine, Lucas was ecstatic and took the cage to school so that he could show his classmates.

Creativity in Children: Raising Wild Butterflies
These guys stayed in the chrysalis for the entire winter. I did NOT expect them to ever come out!

These little guys stayed in their tiny homes throughout the winter, until this month when Lucas came screaming upstairs to let us know they one of them had hatched into a beautiful Black Swallowtail Butterfly. After a few days, and on a bright sunny day, we let him go, ending what has been a wonderful journey that I hope to repeat again in the fall. Should you want to follow, I’ve identified a five pointers when raising Black Swallowtail Butterflies:

  • Be sure to identify the plant where the caterpillar was found. This is likely their favorite food and ideally should be what you feed them.
  • Place a slightly damp kitchen towel on the ground of your cage/box. These guys will poop little black pellets all over the place and it will be easy to keep it clean if you can simply change the floor once every few days.
  • Find a stick or branch that can be placed at an angle in your cage/box. Make sure it is secure because the caterpillar will form his chrysalis on this thing so you want to make sure it’s not going to come loose.
  • Don’t worry about adding water. These guys get all the fluid they need from their food (at least that’s what Google told me).
  • Once the chrysalis has formed it’s reasonably secure. If you’ve found a caterpillar in the fall it likely won’t hatch until the following spring, but during the summer it might only take a couple of weeks. Whatever the case, when the butterfly eventually hatches, don’t panic, most butterflies don’t need to eat in their first 24/48 hours, when they do they’ll be looking for nectar so find some fresh flowers or fruit (water mellon is great). That being said, they’re certainly more fragile then their caterpillar form so I encourage you to let them go unless you plan on taking it to the next level and breeding them.
Creativity in Children: Raising Wild Butterflies
Once they hatched we had to move them into a larger enclosure. We kept them there for a couple of days and then let them go.

*For disclaimer, this is my first year raising butterflies, and my only experience was Black Swallowtail Butterflies. 


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Creativity Chit-Chat: I NEED MORE INPUT Daddy!

Creativity is about Making Connections – Steve Jobs

I need more input Stefanie! Who remembers this line from an eighties movie classic? Short Circuit was one of my favorite movies as a kid. I was glued to the television as Number Five, speedily read through every book in the house as he craved more ‘input’. In some ways, the characteristics of this robot resemble our own little ones as they seek to obtain information about their world. The ‘Why’, the ‘How, the ‘What’ questions are all associated with their desire for more input – even if they become annoying after the Zillionth time of asking.

SEE ALSO: Hollywood’s Hidden Call for Creativity

What does this have to do with Creativity? Well some folks believe that in order to produce ‘something’ creative within a particular field, you need to master knowledge for that field. For example, if we’re going to produce something new and useful for the New York Subway, then we need to have knowledge of how subways work, it’s infrastructure, the commuters, and existing problems that need solutions, etc. – we need ‘input’.

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This example is perhaps too far into the future for our little ones to appreciate, but as parents we can better understand how information about a topic, combined with the ability to think creatively, will more likely lead to an outcome that can be considered creative, even if it’s audience is not as large as commuters of the NYC Subway. Creativity is about Making Connections – combining new and old information to make something new and useful.

SEE ALSO: What is Creativity

So where do we start? Well not only must we cultivate creative thinking skills such as the ability to produce and consider many alternatives, but we must also create an environment that supports our child’s need for input. Now some of you might be thinking – ‘that’s what school is for’. Yes, this is true, but I would argue that the system of education should really begin at home, and more importantly school is a place predetermined knowledge, so we need to offer opportunities for a variety of ‘input’ that expands beyond the classroom environment, and occasionally better accommodate our child’s individual interests.

Museums provide 'more input' for children. Here my eldest examines ancient artifacts at the British Museum.
Museums are a fantastic location for ‘more input’. Here my eldest examines an ancient artifact at the British Museum, in London.

Reading a variety of books is a great start, but with the World Wide Web we have access to so much more. I make use of YouTube, and was pleased when Google recently published their YouTube App for Kids. This new addition from Google offers more child friendly content, an easier interface to navigate, and the search bar appears to be better at formulating questions from keywords.

Promoted by Hurricane Patricia, which recently made landfall in Mexico as the most powerful Hurricane ever recorded. My eldest became intrigued in tropical storms. In his desire to know more– to see more – I put him in front of the YouTube app and set him up with some videos of Hurricanes, as well as educational content. Almost independently he was able to learn about category five being the strongest type of hurricane (though occasionally in his world he gets a Hurricane 1000), and he knows that they cause floods, and destroy towns near the ocean. Like Number Five, each new input takes him to somewhere new, and he was able to build upon this new knowledge to make connections and discover something new about his world.

Son: Daddy, Hurricanes don’t come here right because it’s too cold?

Daddy: Yes, they do sometimes…

Son: WHAT!!! (Being very dramatic)


Son: But they’re not very big right?

Daddy: No…

Son: ‘And we’re not near the ocean’…

Daddy: No (this might have been a tougher conversation if we lived further down South)

The brief summary of our conversation demonstrates how my boy was able to make connections with the new information he had obtained from YouTube. The thinking can be considered creative because it led to a new discovery, and while it might not have been useful to a larger group, it had value to him – this is Little C Creativity!


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Create A Last Minute Holiday Gift!


If you’re still searching for Holiday presents and don’t want to deal with the crunch at the Malls – here is a gift idea you can create at home with your family. Put on some favorite music and it’s time to create a gift that captures the essence of the holiday spirit!


This has to be one of the most fun activities we do as a family for each other and for relatives. It was my daughter’s idea several years ago and, as we soon discovered, the sky’s the limit on what you can create and how you create it:

-First decide who are you making a Coupon for?

For the holidays, my daughter and I decided to make a Coupon for Mom!

-What Should the Coupon be for?

Here’s the fun part – the coupon can be redeemable for something special you will do for the recipient. The coupon can be for anything! Natalie and I brainstormed about some things we could do for Mom that she’d enjoy – that might make her life a little easier – more joyful and best of all – something that she wouldn’t expect: cook a special meal for her, do the laundry for a week, or take over all dog-walking for a month.

 See also: Christmas Gift Ideas for Young Children

-Next Decide What Media You Want To Use To Create Your Coupon:

For a Video Coupon:

There are two options here: You can make the coupon/greeting in one take on your Android/iOS device. Or you can choose from the many free or less cost video editing apps available such as: Magisto (Android, iOS – Free), (Android, iOS – Free), Vee for Video (iOS – $1.99)

For a Digital Coupon/Card:

Make Coupons digitally at sites like Shutterfly (, or Smilebox (, or Canva (

For a Hard Copy Coupon – Spread out whatever types of paper you have around along with crayons, pictures, crayolas, paints, , craft materials (small feathers etc).

And of course all these media can overlap! Create a digital image or use a digital photograph of someone – and incorporate that right onto your hard copy card.

-Finally – Create the Coupon

This is the best part: design a coupon that captures the essence of what you are offering to do for someone. Since Natalie and I decided to (try and) make a meal for Mom – we created the whimsical coupon at the top of this post.

The possibilities are endless & the Coupons Have No Expiration Date!

See also: Gift Ideas: 12 Books to Read Before You’re 12


Another option is to pick a charity that is meaningful to someone.

-For an animal lover – make a card with a donation to an Animal Rescue Shelter

-Honor someone’s memory by creating a card with donation to help find a cure for Alzheimers, ALS, Cancer or another cause.

-For a musician friend we thought of making a small contribution to Musicians Without Borders


A quick follow-up to my post on Virtual Reality

See also: i-spy-with-my-little-eye-virtual-reality

I had great success with the free Google cardboard headsets (Verizon stores were giving them away free for a limited time – check your local store if some are still available). I had no problem aligning my iPhone with the double screens – and the virtual images I saw were crisp, focused and stunning!

For the fun of it, I purchased a Matel View-Master (plastic headset model) for $27 – it is compatible with all Google Cardboard Apps. The manufacturer promises you will “Experience the 3D world in a Whole New Way with our latest View-Master.” I was extremely disappointed with the product. The headset, despite a pretty cool looking design, felt clunky when I looked through it and there were issues aligning my iPhone on the mount inside the viewer. Images were not consistently clear. One thing I did enjoy was playing some of the free games (especially the traveling in space one) and using a virtual indicator to make choices during my space launch and travels. Not worth $27 though – and I returned the View-Master to the manufacturer. There are some higher price options available such as the Zeiss ZR ($129.00) – but for now I’d stick with the free Google cardboard headsets.

Happy Holidays to All!

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Making Christmas Cards

Creativity at Christmas: Making Christmas Cards – My lessons learned

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! I absolutely love the Holidays and consider it my duty to make it a magical experience for my two boys. At first merging family traditions with my wife was sometimes a challenge, but for the most part it’s been a fun experience and we’ve now been able to choose the best of both worlds, and more importantly establish some of our own along the way.

SEE ALSO: Five ways to engage Creativity at Christmas

One of my new favorites (which started last year) is the painting of a ‘festive’ picture for our family Christmas card, which also provides an opportunity for Creativity because it involves children in the making of a new and useful product that will be shared with friends and family.

The picture for last year’s Christmas card. It shows our tree and fireplace.

Last year Arthur was three years old so I took the lead in sketching the picture with a pencil and gave him direction color selection and areas to paint. With the Christmas tunes playing in the background it was an enjoyable and extremely festive experience. I was pleased with the final outcome and wanted this year to be an even better experience, with Arthur taking more of a lead in the creation of the picture. However, because I wanted it better than last year, I unintentionally limited some of the opportunities for creativity because I had a predetermined vision of what the card should look like. This differed the experience from the spontaneity and ambiguity that existed last year.

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‘No let me do it’… Arthur said as I began to take the lead in sketching out the picture. Reluctantly I gave in, but told him to sketch the Christmas tree like a big triangle. He followed these instructions and the sketch wasn’t too bad. He then added some presents under the tree (all his he said), and an angel at the very top. Things had started off reasonably well, and he did a good job painting the tree with the green paint I had mixed. Feeling a little more confident I decided to offer suggestions as opposed to specific direction – this was when things started to go a little pear shaped. He took a BIG paintbrush and attempted to add some round ornaments, but the first was almost as big as the top of the tree. I showed him a little technique with the end of a pencil, which went ok at first, but then he got bored and wanted to paint snowflakes – WITH RED PAINT!!! No I said – Snowflakes aren’t Red. He said he liked the red, so I suggested he paint the presents red – he seemed ‘ok’ with this suggestion, but shortly afterwards realized we forgot the fireplace (which was in last year’s picture).

One of the few times Arthur was engaged. This year wasn't the fun and magical experience I remember from last year.
One of the few times Arthur was engaged. You can see how we had to add a second piece of paper to accommodate the fireplace.

‘Arthur we don’t need a fireplace in the picture this year, we can just have our tree’… ‘No we ‘need’ the fireplace’ he said. This was where I started to feel a little torn – I recognized that I wasn’t providing the type of freedom that he wanted, but at the same time I had my desire to produce a different and better picture from last year. My wants began to negatively impact the activity, and reluctantly I added an additional sheet of paper so Arthur could add the fireplace.

I forget to mention there was an additional element as well – Little Raymond, now 19 months caused a little more of a problem this year. By the time I had returned with the additional paper he was much covered in paint and I had to strip him down. This obviously changed the experience for me and I became tense and felt the pressure of time. Now having to distract Raymond, meant Arthur had less ‘suggestion’ and he had grabbed the BIG paintbrush again and started painting the flames for the fireplace – BIG FLAMES – bigger than the tree. Once finished he said ‘Daddy I’m done’ and walked away. I tried to get him back in engaged, but I knew that my input and direction had killed the activity and probably his creativity – I finished the card alone. Lessons Learned.

Man what a difference a year can make!

How to Make a Family Christmas Card

  1. Paint or draw the picture*
  2. Capture and crop finished picture using your smart phone
  3. Visit online printing company (I use Vista Print)
  4. Select a customized card option that best fits the size of your picture*
  5. Upload image and be sure to preview sample
  6. Confirm order

*it’s advisable to know in advance what size card you’re making the picture for

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