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Caterpillar to Butterfly: Adventures in Science, Music, and Dance DVD Review by Melissa Cummings

Marcia Daft
Missarmia Productions, LLC
114 Hesketh Street
Chevy Chase, MD 20815

Teaching my son a biology lesson through music and dance? I honestly wasn't sure how well it would go over at first. Much to my pleasant surprise, both my preschooler and I enjoyed learning about the life cycle of the Monarch butterfly with the audiovisual and physical activity aids provided by Caterpillar to Butterfly. In fact, we did the entire program twice in a row because we were both immediately hooked. At only three years old, my son now knows the eight stages of the Monarch's life cycle, can dance the motions without my assistance, and is able to describe some of the butterfly's activities in his own words. He was so eager to tell his grandparents about the egg, caterpillar, pupa, and butterfly--to demonstrate some of the movements he learned--to show them the story map he folded and drew by himself, picturing his own version of the Monarch's life cycle. He now repeatedly asks to study the lesson and perform the entire dance movement cycle for me. My skepticism has vanished; we are sold on the concept of Arts Integration!

Marcia Daft developed this particular DVD with ages 4 through 8 in mind, but it is easy to see how the age range could be stretched on both ends of the spectrum. The audiovisual aspects of the DVD are stunning, with a musical score specifically composed to reflect the life cycle of a Monarch as well as nature footage offering firsthand views of the entire Monarch life through a time-lapsed lens. The drawing of story maps and discussion questions really emphasize the students' comprehension and cerebral knowledge. While the video shows how well this program works for a group setting, it works equally well in a one-on-one setting, proving what diverse audience situations this DVD serves.

Encouraging the use of their own bodies as well as interacting with one another, the DVD urges children to see beyond the traditional school setting of desks covered in textbooks, pencils, and paper. By utilizing their bodies, words, interpretation, and creativity to reiterate the concepts they are being taught, they enhance their educational experience and bring true kinesthetic learning a new sparkle.

Ms. Daft and her talent are present in every aspect of Caterpillar to Butterfly --from musical composition and performance to teaching and explaining the physical movements to describing the life cycle of the butterflies themselves. Her unique teaching methods and talent for working with young children on this level is obvious throughout the DVD as she speaks, plays piano, demonstrates movements, facilitates discussion amongst the children, leads performance, and continuously explains and directs. The children on the DVD gave my son the encouragement he needed to join in and participate in each portion of the study. Their enthusiasm and cooperation are contagious.

While the DVD could simply be watched in one sitting by your child(ren) in any classroom or home, the program is designed with the intent of being divided into a weeklong Arts Integration course. Repeating the five chapters and stretching them out over as many days is just one way to achieve that goal. You can also incorporate the DVD into further studies and activities, such as going to a cultivated butterfly garden or butterfly house, stepping into your own backyard to search for butterflies, making butterfly crafts, or reading books of various types about butterflies. Not only is this DVD a complete lesson in and of itself, but it also serves as a springboard for further study and creativity.

Product review by Melissa Cummings, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, August 2011