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Raising kids can be quite magical in the spring and summer as we begin to explore outdoors and discover ways to connect in our garden with our children. It’s a time to catch a peek at a butterfly visiting or bees buzzing by looking for nectar. Raising Eco-friendly kids is one of my main goals, so by bringing a child outdoors and into the garden it can be such a fun way to explore ways to take care of their environment with eco friendly activities for kids. One way I want to connect this gardening season is by planting a butterfly garden with my children.
Here’s how to create a butterfly garden for success in your garden too.
Recently I was looking for the best apps for kids to help them learn about the environment when I discovered the Eco Boys and Girls book series on iTunes written by Maria Snyder. Anytime I can connect what we’re doing with a book or ebook is a big win with my kids and in my teacher book. These animated, read-aloud books are available for children to interact with. Children, anywhere in the world, ages Pre K to Third Grade, can watch the animated characters, read along with their voices and see them in action. Each of the 6 books in this series has five Eco Boys and Girls characters: Ernie Earth, Lulu Love, Patsy Peace, Ray Recycle, and Sammy Sun.
Eco Boys and Girls book series includes the Titles
- Eco Boys and Girls Go To An Organic Farm
- Eco Boys and Girls Visit the Ocean
- Eco Boys and Girls Visit the Everglades
- Eco Boys and Girls Plant an Urban Garden
- Eco Boys and Girls Learn About Energy
- Meet the Eco Boys and Girls
Go check them out in iTunes here! These 6 books are $5.99 each on iTunes and are made for iBooks.
Please note to view the books, you must have an iPad with iBook 2 or later and iOS 5 or later, or an iPhone with iOS 8.4 or later, or a Mac with OS X 10.9 or later
My daughters ages 5 and 9 had a lot of fun reading these ebooks together as they learn about environmentally friendly things that they can do, especially with Earth Day coming up on April 22nd. We took a look around our backyard and decided to something extra fun this spring to invite animals to our yard eco-system with an urban garden. I was thrilled to discover that Eco Boys and Girls has also developed STEM, UN Sustainable Development Goals, Peace & Justice curricula and programs, accessible through global partner organizations around the world. Every chance I have I try my best to find resource for exploring STEM concepts with my kids. We decided together that we were going to create an eco system that attracted butterflies and bees to our yard.
Choosing Flowers for a Butterfly Garden
We did a little research online to discover which plants attract butterflies the most. We’re pretty lucky and have a butterfly rainforest in our community so we also can go there for inspiration on what to plant. One big tip I want to share is to choose plants that are native to your area. It can make a huge different on the environment when you choose plants that are meant to be in your zone. We live in Florida so we choose plants that are native to here to plant. We’ve have a lot of success over the years with planting zinnias and milkweed in our garden to attract the local butterflies to eat. Plus they attract pollinators too which help our environment too.
We choose the follow flowers for our garden to attract the butterflies…
- Coreopsis (the yellow flowering plant we added for color and for flowers to pick)
Whenever possible try to choose Native Plants. They are best for the environment to conserve water and attract the appropriate wildlife. The girls went to the local plant nursery with me to pick out these flowers. Once we got home they got straight to work, they couldn’t wait!
How to Attract Monarch Butterflies to Lay Eggs in Your Butterfly Garden with Host Plants
We’ve been very lucky to have planted a milkweed plan, actually it was cuttings from a neighbor from her plant that roots in water and then has expanded through seed pods to a few plants. Here’s a peek at our Milkweed this year. We just discovered 7 caterpillars beginning to take their course on our plant. We actually brought a few in to watch about a month ago so this has been an ongoing science project at our house as we learn to be Eco Kids. The main this to remember is that you need to plant the very specific plants that the butterflies will lay their eggs on.
TIP Milkweed, parsley and fennel seem to be the easiest for me to grow in our garden.
Use Host Plants for Butterflies
- Zebra Swallowtail – paw paw tree
- Monarch – milkweed
- Painted Lady – hollyhocks and thistle
- Black Swallowtail – fennel, carrots, parsley
- Giant Swallowtail – citrus tree, prickly ash tree
- Pipevine Swallowtail – Dutchman’s pipevine
- Tiger Swallowtail – tulip poplar, wild cherry tree
- Spicebush Swallowtail – spicebush, sassafras tree
- Red Admiral – false nettles
- Silvery Checkerspot – purple coneflowers
- Sulphur butterfly – white clover and legumes
- Cabbage white – nasturtium, spider flowers(Cleome)
- Pearl Crescent – asters
- Variegated & Gulf Fritillary – passion vines
- Great Spangled Fritillary – violets
Source Butterfly Nature.com
Here’s our little visitors this week in our backyard. My kids are so excited to go and watch them each day. Have you ever had caterpillars at your home?
Giving Ownership in the Garden to Support Raising Eco-Friendly Kids
The main goal of Eco Boys and Girls is to engage youth and families around the world to be aware of, involved with, and connected to each other and the earth and to empower them to learn about the environment and explore creative new ways to live in harmony. Creating this butterfly environment in our yard I feel helped to chose my kids this continual cycle that happens when you put effort to help support it. Out next step is to really focus on our garden to begin to grow vegetables.
Being inspired by the Eco Boys and Girls my kids wanted to take action and took charge on planting the flowers in our garden. We choose the area around our front door so that we would have a higher chance of seeing when the butterflies can to visit our home. Watch this video of a monarch that stopped by to enjoy our Zinnia flowers this past spring. They planted a few plants where are Zinnia’s return each year on their own. Can’t wait to share with you in a few months.
Container Planting for Attracting Butterflies
They also planted the big pots at our front door so that they could be responsible for some flowers on their own. Each day they’ll get a chance to take turns watering the flowers with their special watering can. It’s when we give the little things to our children to be responsible for, you will discover how these tasks grow into them having the ability to see when additional tasks will need to be done. Here’s a peek at their finished pots. Love the color combo. As the plants fill in a bit, I will transfer them to different areas in the yard so that the smaller container doesn’t become root bound, just wanted to give you that heads up. Plus these are plants that are perennials that will come back year after year which is best for our environment too.
Thank you so much to Eco Boys and Girls to inviting us to share with our readers about your ebooks. Eco Boys and Girls is an educational organization that creates child-friendly, engaging books and other learning materials to reach the youngest educable age group, often overlooked, about their environment, how to protect it and take care of each other.
Be sure to go check out their 6 books on iTunes to help inspire your Eco Kids!
Tell us about your backyard garden and how you’re planning to get your family involved?