The process of metamorphosis is an interesting concept. It’s a Hilary Duff song. It’s the backbone of Eric Carle’s classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and it’s usually a worksheet, a chapter in a science textbook, and a monotone educational video that teachers put on for the kids that may or may not send them to sleep. 

None of the above are hands on, or realistically portray this one-of-a-kind phenomenon. Enter Insect Lore: Butterfly Garden Gift Set, a kit that allows kids to grow their own Painted Lady butterflies, and the Toy Insider team’s latest project.

Do you know the expression, “nothing prepared me for motherhood?” Well, same, TBH. We were not ready to become butterfly parents, but now, as our little flying beauties flutter around their net, I’m so glad we did. For the last three weeks, we watched these fuzzy caterpillars transition into full-grown butterflies—just in time for spring! The process starts with the Cup of Caterpillars, a plastic see-through cup with five caterpillars, where they live until their cocoon has hardened. Of the five, Insect Lore guarantees at least three (survival of the fittest, amiright?) will become butterflies. The Toy Insider Team was #blessed to have four grow in office.

Everything needed to grow butterflies is included in the set. Luckily, these crawling creatures don’t need too much assistance to do their thang. Your job as butterfly parents will basically be moving the caterpillars as they go from baby caterpillars to chrysalides (fuzzy caterpillars to hardened cocoons). For seven to 10 days, the caterpillars will transition into a cocoon. They do this by crawling up to the top of the cup and attaching themselves to the lid.

Then, kids will softly take off the lid of the Cup of Caterpillars, gingerly place the lid into the included Deluxe Chrysalis Station, and then place that into the Butterfly Habitat.  This can all be done in 30 seconds and is the most important step you’ll have to do while tending butterflies. The instruction manual lays everything out in six simple steps, which is good because the most experience I had with butterflies prior to this were those colorful hair clips in the ’90s.

The real joy of this set is just watching these little guys transform. Over three weeks, you’ll get to witness some of the most unique growing experiences. You’ll never get a hands-on experience like this from just reading about it in a textbook. The Butterfly Garden Gift Set is a great kit to pique kid’s interest in nature and science.

And, the fun can continue in your backyard. Once kids are ready to release their Painted Lady butterflies into the wild, the butterflies may take a home in your very own backyard, hatching new larvae, which will turn into caterpillars, spin chrysalids, and turn into even more butterflies, fluttering around your yard for weeks and weeks to come. Kids are actually helping give back to the environment with this kit, bringing more beautiful butterflies into the world, which will help pollinate some of our favorite foods across the world, like fruit, coffee, and cocoa (AKA chocolate!).

In short: We nursed our baby caterpillars, fed them their included sugar and seeds, watched them crawl to the top of the Caterpillar Cup, form hardened cocoons, physically moved them to their Butterfly habitat, and now they’re fabulous Painted Lady butterflies. I can’t wait to order a new set and do it all again next spring! And yes, they did arrive in our office via the U.S. Postal Service, and you too, can have them shipped to your house!