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  • Writer's pictureJenny Ferris

...and the caterpillar turned into a beautiful butterfly!

I have written before about a puppet I absolutely adore, which is this gorgeous caterpillar creation by Folkmanis

He's such a tactile, moveable creature and my students find him so engaging!

But today I wanted to talk about how I combine this guy with another beautiful puppet - the butterfly!

I'm sure you can already sense the thematic connections in the lifecycle of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly (which is something that my young students find endlessly fascinating!) but there are also some musical connections that can happen with these two puppets as well!

First, let's explore the music.


There is a beautiful song called "Flutter, Flutter, Butterfly" which I use with this puppet:

Its simple tone set and repetitive melodies make it very approachable for lower primary students and it's great for preparing la, practising taa & ti-ti or even revisiting in older years when beginning to sing songs in canon!

There is a simple game that I learned from the wonderful Marion Stafford, in which students sit in a circle, with two students chosen to be the butterfly. One student stands inside the circle, while the other stands on the outside. They hold each other's hand and flap their wings as they make their way around the circle (almost like a rollercoaster following the rails).

On "flutter high" they both reach up as high as they can, on "flutter low" they reach down low and in the final bar, they join their other hands and form a ring around two people in the circle who become the next butterfly.


I love using the chant "Caterpillar crawling round" and it is a staple of my lower primary grades.

If you're not familiar with the chant, it goes like so:

Caterpillar on the ground

Caterpillar crawling round

Hide away in your cocoon

Don't forget to come back soon!

It uses a speaking voice and is great for developing a sense of steady beat. If I am using this chant on its own, I will often have the students sit in a circle and pass the puppet to the beat while chanting (if they are in the early stages of learning about beat, then I will walk behind them and tap them with the caterpillar, a la "duck duck goose")

A little later on in their development, once taa & ti-ti have been made conscious, students can notate the rhythms of this chant:

However, in their first encounter with this song (and especially when partnering it with my lovely butterfly puppet) I like to have the students engage in a little more play acting.

To begin with, I have students copy my caterpillar puppet's actions with their pointer finger making a caterpillar and crawling along their own arm. On the words "hide away in your cocoon" the caterpillar finger is covered by the other hand and then we wave goodbye to our caterpillar.

I repeat this multiple times until I think the students have learned the chant and can perform it independently.

Once they're performing it on their own, we switch to more gross motor actions. Students get right down on the floor and wriggle along like a caterpillar, putting their head down and covering their eyes once they go into their "cocoon".

This is where the magic happens!

I transition straight into "Flutter, Flutter, Butterfly" and when the students raise their heads to see what is going on, they see that the puppet has magically transformed into a butterfly!

We stand up, flap our way around the room, then into a seated circle to play the game!

Whilst it is normally against the magician's code to reveal their tricks, I thought it was worth mentioning that since the butterfly is finger-puppet-sized and is very soft and foldable, it easily fits on your finger inside the caterpillar puppet. As long as I'm a little sneaky when setting up my caterpillar puppet, none of my students have any idea the butterfly is there!

Then, when we're all on the floor with our heads tucked away in our cocoons, I pull off the caterpillar puppet and hide it under my legs, then sit up and begin singing and flapping the butterfly finger puppet.

The kids are absolutely gobsmacked the first time it happens and (despite having done it with over 20 different classes now) I still get a bit of a thrill being able to create a truly magical moment in the classroom.

Of course, there's usually a clever cookie or two who figure it out before long, but those few moments of enchantment are absolutely worth it!

Vocal contrasts

I really like using these two songs as partner songs, because of the similarities and differences between them. They have a very similar (almost identical) rhythmic structure. However, our caterpillar chant uses a speaking voice while the butterfly song uses a singing voice. Understanding the difference and being able to transition between the two is an important part of my Prep music curriculum.

Once students have learned both songs, we will revisit them in later lessons and cycle back and forth between the two in order to practise that speaking/singing voice contrast.

Do you have any favourite magical moments in the music room? Drop us a line with your highlights!

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