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Suggested Activities for Maxilla

While reading

Activities that can be done during the reading.

Get your child / children to read the story to you and try out the following activities:

  • Spot Maxilla on every page

  • Practice a bit of English: on each page, identify the adjectives, verbs and nouns.

  • Act out the book: would be helpful to have a makeshift Maxilla (perhaps a short pencil, or handpicked twig)!

After reading
Activities based directly on the text, which can be done after reading Maxilla.

Get your child / children to...

  • Create a monologue for Reuben based on the scene on pages 20 and 21. 

  • Pick one adjective that best describes the characters, and explain why they chose it.

  • Collate any questions they have about the book and write the author a postcard. 

Guided questions

Suggested questions to discuss with your child / children.
  • Why did Reuben think Maxilla was "two pets in one"? (page 7)

  • Why did Reuben have to release Maxilla?

  • Do you think Reuben did the right thing in releasing Maxilla? Why or why not?

  • Do you think the butterfly on page 28 is Maxilla? If it isn't, does it make a difference to the story?

  • If you were Reuben, would you have made the same choice?

Little zoologist

Learn more about the lifecycles of butterflies and other insects.

'A word from Maxilla' (pages 32 - 35) includes a simple illustration of the lifecycle of a butterfly. Learn about Maxilla's growth in greater detail!

  • Look it up on the internet: there are many resources available, including videos from Youtube, websites with illustrations and animations, etc.

  • Make a trip to the library: the National Library Board has many children titles on butterflies. Try:

    1. Butterfly & Moth by Paul Whalley

    2. How does a caterpillar become a butterfly?: and other questions on butterflies by Melissa Stewart (art by Annie Patterson)

    3. What happens next?: caterpillar to butterfly, concept by Rebecca Bondor. (For the very young!)

  • Optional: expand your scope to include other common insects as well! Ants, spiders, ladybirds... you name it. Use books like Learning about insects by Catherine Veitch (available from NLB) to spark the interest of your budding scientist(s)!

Artistic  license

Fun with arts and crafts for the family!
  • Making butterfly wings: try the following links-

  • Colouring pages: download from the internet and print.

  • Sewing your own caterpillars out of felt: 

  • Face painting: messy fun!

    • Youtube video tutorial

    • Or borrow How to face paint by Megan Atwood, illustrated by Kelsey Oseid, from the NLB. Includes other ideas for face painting - turn daddy into a superhero, or a pirate!

  • Origami butterflies: paper, scissors, and minimal cleaning!

  • Making other butterflies: 

Your own Maxilla
Let your child experience their own version of Maxilla!
  1. Find your own caterpillar: head down to the void deck, a nearby park, or more exotic places like Gardens by the Bay. When you find your caterpillar, gently pluck off the leaf it is on and place it in a sufficiently large plastic container. Caterpillars need to be treated with care, and may die if handled too roughly.

  2. Name your caterpillar: Let the creative juices flow!

  3. Care for your caterpillar: Your caterpillar needs air, food, water and a twig. Place it in a location out of direct sunlight and air-conditioning. 

    • Air: Keep the container well-ventilated by poking holes in the lid beforehand. This reduces the chances of accidentally injuring or frightening your caterpillar. Optionally, containers with pre-existing ventilation slits can be purchased.

    • Food: If you found it at a nearby place, you can replenish your stock of leaves every day; otherwise, pick additional leaves from the plant you found it on to keep your caterpillar well-fed. Ensure there are no other insects on the leaves: ants, spiders and the like can harm your caterpillar. 

    • Water: Caterpillars require very little water directly, but they do need a humid environment. Use a small mist spray bottle to spray the container (not the caterpillar!) occasionally if possible; if not, a few small drops of water, frequently replenished, should suffice. Be careful not to drown your caterpillar or to cause mold growth, which may occur if the environment is overly moist.

    • Twig: Your caterpillar will eventually need to rest on a twig in order to turn into a pupa. Find a twig that is slightly longer than the diameter or width of the container, and carefully fit it inside (cut it if necessary). This allows your caterpillar to crawl onto the twig and hang upside down, so that when it emerges from the chrysalis, gravity will facilitate the pumping of fluids into its new wings. 

  4. Research on your caterpillar: Look up the Internet or some books on caterpillars in Singapore to identify your caterpillar's species. With that information, you can also learn how to better care for it: what food it prefers, the length of its pupation, etc. You can even get a sneak preview of what it will grow up to look like!

  5. Watch your caterpillar grow: Clean up after its waste (frass), and don't disturb it if it is lethargic or changes colour - that is a sign that pupation will soon begin! When it is 'due' to emerge from the chrysalis, ensure that it is not left out of sight for long periods of time. The butterfly might emerge, dry its wings and begin flying while still enclosed in the container, which might damage its wings. 

  6. Release your new butterfly: Ideally, this should be done while your butterfly is still drying its wings so that it can immediately fly in an open environment. Bring it downstairs or to its original location, if possible. Open the lid and watch it go!

  7. Reread Maxilla: You might be surprised at some of the new insights your child or children can offer.

Visiting Maxilla

Places where butterflies can be viewed in Singapore.
  • Gardens by the Bay

  • The Butterfly Park and Insect Kingdom, Sentosa

  • Oh Farms Butterfly Lodge

  • Changi Airport Butterfly Garden

  • HortPark, part of the Southern Ridges

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