Einschreibung Kontakt

The Path from a Caterpillar to a Butterfly

SIS Kassel Kindergarten/Eingangsstufe Abwechslungsreicher Unterricht

Hands-on activities and play-based learning in reception class to prepare for primary school

An early Friday morning maths class is taking place, and we have not taken the usual path to the classroom after the usual changing of our shoes but have instead arrived at the art room with the big tables and big chairs. The wide-open eyes and scurrying of the children running to find a seat next to their friends leaves a buzz in the air for an exciting lesson. The children are learning about symmetry in maths. The teacher begins by pointing to a printed picture of a butterfly stuck to the whiteboard and asks what this insect is called. The children respond with the word “Schmetterling”. The children are learning new vocabulary every day in the Caterpillar class at SIS Kassel.


The SIS Kassel Reception class is comprised of a mix of cultural backgrounds and the average age is six. Beginning school in the reception class is one of the most important steps for success at a bilingual school. The extra year of English and schooling benefits children tremendously throughout their education. The skills that children in Reception learn through hands-on activities and play-based learning provides them with skills to accomplish a lot throughout primary school, and the extra year of English also gives them the building blocks to construct their English vocabulary.


The teacher corrects the children with the correct word: “butterfly”. The motion of batting a ball is shown as the “b” sound is said clearly to emphasise the beginning of the word. The meaning of this motion has been taught with the use of Jolly Phonics – a programme used to teach the alphabet in English. The teacher says the word and points to the children with palms faced up for them to repeat the word. In this lesson, the class will be painting half of a butterfly and folding the paper together to create a symmetrical picture. After saying and miming the instructions to the children for the activity, they put on their painting jackets and get their equipment ready. The children have been learning about the coming springtime and what new animals and insects they should expect to see. As the class is called the Caterpillar class, there is a big emphasis on learning about the life cycle of a butterfly from an egg, then relating this to themselves developing from a caterpillar into a butterfly when they reach the first grade. The children are enthusiastic about the activity and help fill up their water cups to take to their tables.


Teoman and Mats have decided to use blue and yellow paint for their butterflies and are working together to paint similar pictures. During the lesson the children are taught verbs and adjectives that match a butterfly, including “beautiful”, “flying”, and “eating”. Once the painting part is finished, the children fold their paper in half and upon reopening it, they can see their symmetrical artwork. At the end of the lesson, Teoman tells the class his beautiful butterfly is flying to Class 1. After that, the other children want to say similar sentences to Teoman and raise their hands to contribute. The teacher smiles knowing the class has learned how to use “butterfly” in a sentence.


In the following weeks, the class will learn more about the life cycle of a butterfly and draw more symmetrical butterflies to decorate the classroom. Their English vocabulary is expanding every day and in just a few short months, the Caterpillar class will emerge from their chrysalises and join the 1a Butterfly class.