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Glasswings: A Butterfly’s Story



Last updated Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Author: Elisa Kleven
Date of Publication: 2013
ISBN: 0803737424
Grade Level: Kindergarten    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Apr. 2021

Synopsis: Claire, a glasswing butterfly whose transparent wings reflect her lush home, finds herself lost in the city after being separated from her family. She doesn’t know how they will ever see her, but she finds new city friends, a pigeon, an ant, and a ladybug, who search for the flowers Claire needs to live. They come upon a tiny urban garden, and as Claire drinks from the flowers’ nectar, she pollinates more flowers. Soon the garden - and Claire's clear wings - fill with color, allowing her family to recognize her at last. Together they create an oasis for all to enjoy.

Note to readers:
•  Glasswings are real! Be sure to familiarize yourself with the notes on the opening pages
•  You can show the kids more pictures of real glasswings (see R2K Pinterest page)

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Have you seen a butterfly? What color are butterflies?
•  Can you imagine an “invisible butterfly” that has clear wings? What color would that butterfly be?
•  Perhaps discuss camouflage and blending in with surroundings.
•  Did you now they have a job to do? (Discuss basic pollination)
•  Why do you think there are more butterflies in gardens than on busy city streets?

Vocabulary

•  Nectar: a sweet liquid found in flowers, which attracts insects and birds. Bees make honey out of it.
•  A wisp of milkweed silk”: Milkweed is a flowering plant that butterflies really like. Think of the wisp of silk like a dandelion seed in this case. (That’s something the kids can imagine being blown around and chased by a butterfly.)
•  Concrete: a very hard substance used to build buildings and pave roads
•  Aphids: a tiny insect that sucks sap from leaves and stalks (They are not good for plants, so it’s good that ladybugs eat them.)
•  Pollen: yellow powder in flowers that sticks to butterflies’ legs, or gets blown in the wind, to help other plants grow

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Find Claire on every page. Does her color change? Why?
•  What color did Claire first find in the city? (talk about the red-yellow-green traffic light)
•  Have you seen a garden in the middle of a city? (maybe even at their school, or a community garden)
•  How do Claire’s friends -- the ladybug, ant and pigeon – help the garden?
•  How did Claire’s family find/recognize her?
•  Are the butterflies happy in the garden? What kind of plants and flowers do you like?

Craft ideas:
•  Draw butterflies and/or flowers
•  You can outline your hand on a piece of paper. Color in the “petals” and draw a stem and leaves
•  If the kids have scissors, they can fold a paper and draw a wing along the fold. When they cut it out and unfold it, the butterfly will have identical wings.
•  # Check our craft ideas on Pinterest!
https://www.pinterest.com/readingtokids/april-2021-amazing-animals/

Special activities:
•  Google “glasswing butterfly” in advance, and pick some cool pictures to share.
•  Here’s a cool video you can show: https://nerdist.com/article/glasswing-butterfly-nanostructures-transparency/ The language is above K, but the first 2.5 minutes show a glasswing, from caterpillar to butterfly.
•  This short video shows a glasswing on a flower (pollinating): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDSu5Us6JnY

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don't have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!