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8 Educational Websites to Plan a Butterfly Garden With Your Students

Whether you're running a preschool, a kindergarten, or you're just looking for educational activities for your home school, making a butterfly garden is one of the most informative and educational activities available during the summer months.

Butterflies make for a perfect scientific specimen to study because of a life cycle that is both short and very dramatic. Going from each stage of its life cycle, from a wingless insect to a coccoon and to its final life as a butterfly - the butterfly will capture the interest and imagination of any child.

Building a butterfly garden will inspire children to find ways that not only attract a butterfly population, but will also help to promote a healthy butterfly population. In doing so, there will be plenty of fluttering specimens for kids to capture and carefully examine as part of the science project.

In this article, you'll learn about 8 websites online that offer the best outline, tips and even plans for creating your own butterfly garden. Follow this process with your students, and in doing so, you'll help them to research and learn more about the different butterfly species and their amazing lives.

Horticulture Magazine

One of the best resources online, not only for learning about butterflies but for learning about science and gardening in general, is Horticulture Magazine.

This website offers a short entry specifically about tips for what to include in a butterfly garden, as well as a list of plants and flowers that are known to attract butterflies.

butterfly garden
Horticulture Magazine Main Website


Beyond that specific article, this is the perfect website to get more general tips about what some of the best pesticides are that you can safely use without harming the butterfly population, ways that butterflies and other insects can help your garden, and much more.

New Jersey Autubon

A much more elaborate set of instructions for creating a butterfly garden comes from the Garden State itself - the New Jersey Audobon.

This wildlife conservation organization offers a two part series, complete with step by step instructions as well as photographs and examples.

butterfly garden
New Jersey Audobon Main Page


In Part II you learn about some misconceptions and myths about what to do to attract butterflies, as well as what plants do well to attract them and different conditions of a garden that butterflies really like.

Restoration Nurseries

If you're looking for a very clean, simple pamphlet that you can print out to take with you as you and your students work on the butterfly garden, then the Restoration Nurseries website is the place to go.

Taylor Creek Restoration Nurseries is actually a very impressive organization run by Steve Apfelbaum, that seeks to promote green and sustainable gardening and farming. To that end, the nursery offers a valuable pamphlet for free, titled "Build your own Bird & Butterfly Garden".

This isn't a pamphlet created by some amateur - it has absolutely everything you need in three pages to start creating your educational butterfly garden.

butterfly pictures
Taylor Creek Restoration Nurseries


In this PDF pamphlet, you'll find a six-step set of instructions for creating a butterfly garden, tips on positioning the garden and attracting birds as well as butterflies, and even a really nice, free butterfly garden plan and a list of garden plants that attract birds and butterflies.

The Butterfly Site

If you are the type of person that likes copious amounts of information rather than a simple set of instructions, then you'll really enjoy The Butterfly Site.

This website has a whole section on Butterfly gardening that includes a mix of subsections on monarch butterflies, pictures of different gardens, fun facts about butterflies, photos and information about live releases, and a whole lot more.

butterfly pictures
The Butterfly Site


In addition to those general topics, you can also get more butterfly gardening specific data by clicking on the links in that section of the site.

Here you'll be able to teach your students about what butterflies live in your part of the world, different types of butterfly behavior that students can watch for, and even how to build a "butterfly home" in the garden.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Another excellent PDF pamphlet that you should print out and offer to your students is the 2-page PDF file from the Wisconson Department of Natural Resources.

This pamphlet is aptly titled "Plant Your Own Butterfly Garden", and it is simply a detailed, 6 step process on how to attract Monarch butterflies into your new garden. Those tips are then followed by a table that fills an entire page, containing a whole list of native plant species that the state recommends you use in the process of your planting.

butterfly pictures
Wisconson DNR Guide


Since the guide is only two pages, you could easily print it out two-sided on a duplex printer, laminate it, and then provide it to your students as a durable guide they can carry around outside as they work with you in the garden.

Better Homes and Gardens

Nothing makes for a better home than one with a beautiful butterfly garden on the property. So, it's no surprise that at the Better Homes and Gardens website, you'll find a 24 page slideshow with animated images of butterfly gardens, and detailed steps and important tips as you work through the process with students.

garden for butterflies
Better Homes and Gardens Slideshow


This would make for an ideal slideshow to go through in the classroom with students, as in introduction to the project and to get them started with thinking about and learning about butterflies and what would attract them into the garden that you're all going to start together.


Healthy Homeschool

It is a well-known fact that home school kids are some of the highest achievers in colleges and other institutions of higher education. This is a testament to the homeschool teachers that take the time to research and focus on quality curriculum.

So, it should be no surprise that one of the best websites for butterfly garden tips is actually the site of a home schooling family called The Healthy Homeschool.


garden for butterflies
Homeschool Butterfly Tips


Here you'll learn all about the butterfly life cycle, and not only flowers and plants but even trees and shrubs that attract the little critters into your garden.

The creator of the site offers a nice volume of example images from the butterfly garden that the family created together as an educational experience. Those photos are perfect to study for ideas and examples of how to lay out your own garden for best results.

UK Entomology

From the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture comes a website called UK Entomology. This is where you can learn a great deal about the study of bugs. Best of all, the University provides an article on the site titled "How to Make Butterfly Gardens".

butterfly garden
UK Entomology PDF Pamphlet


This "article" is in reality a downloadable PDF which you could also download and laminate to offer to your students as a guide.

This resource would actually make for an ideal guide because it offers a list of pictures of planets that attract butterflies, tips about "other attractants", and a list of butterfly nectar preferences and "larval food plants".

By becoming well educated about the biology, lifespan, and the preferences of butterflies, students will actually be able to take a very active part in designing and creating a butterfly garden that will not only educate during the process, but the garden will continue to educate future students for years to come.


Written August 6, 2012 by Ryan Dube


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Science



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