Velma Gratch & the Way Cool Butterfly

Written by:Alan Madison

Illustrated by:Kevin Hawkes

Before Reading

"Velma Gratch was the youngest of the three Gratch sisters. Frieda, the oldest, had gone through first grade first, followed by Fiona. Now it was Velma's turn."

Join Velma as she tries to navigate the first grade and make a name for herself and get out of the shadows of her older sisters. Take a moment to look over the cover with your little one before beginning the story. Also, check out the inside of each cover, which have many different kinds of butterflies on them. Then flip through the book and ask some preliminary questions before you dive into the story! Ask questions like:

What do you see on the cover?

What do you think will happen in this story?

What do you know about butterflies?

[Look at the inside of the covers and give the names of each butterfly] Which butterfly is your favorite? Why?

Do you think butterflies are "way cool"? Why/why not? Why do you think Velma thinks they are?

{Flip to an illustration} What do you think is happening in this picture?

As You Read

Always remember to have fun while reading! It should be an interactive, fun experience so use silly voices and engage your little one in conversation as you go along. For example, when the story describes Frieda's voice that sounds like an angel, ask your child "What do you think that sounds like? Can you sing like an angel?" Then compare that to when Velma sings really loudly. Get really silly and see who can sound the silliest.


Build Language

There are some scientific terms in this story that your child probably isn't familiar with like "chrysalis" and "metamorphosis" so be sure to describe what each means after you've read about it. Say something like "A chrysalis is like a little sack. It would be like if we wrapped you all up in a blanket so that we couldn't see you anymore and when we unwrapped you, you were all grown up! That is what happens to butterflies, that's how they grow up! That whole process is called 'metamorphosis'." Also talk about other new words like:



Monitor Comprehension

Discuss different aspects in the story including character motivations and how different parts of the story are related. Ask questions like, "What is Velma learning in first grade? What does our family do over winter vacation? Do we go somewhere warm too like the butterflies and Velma's family? What do you think she will do with the butterfly that won't get off of her finger?" Also, be sure to point to different things in the illustrations. For example, answer the math problems on the chalkboard in the classroom that Velma is purposefully answering incorrectly. Ask "Why is she answering them incorrectly?"

After Reading

Help your child look at the story as a whole once you've completed your read-through by asking/discussing questions like:

What happened in the story? Did you like it? Why/why not?

How did Velma first try to get noticed?

What does it mean when a butterfly goes through metamorphosis (go back in the book if your little one needs a refresher)?

How will Velma be remembered? What can you think of that makes you special?

Also, ask your child about Velma and her sisters' names: Frieda, Fiona and Velma. Write them all down and underline the first letters of each name. Then ask "What letters do each of their names start with?" Talk about how Velma's sisters' names start with the same letter and her's doesn't. Then talk about how that already made her different but the way cool butterfly is what made her really stand out.

Extending the Story

Make a Butterfly Ring

Does your little one want to sport a butterfly on his/her finger just like Velma? Here is a great craft idea from Science for Preschoolers that allows you to make a butterfly ring that won't fly away either. And if you're just looking for other butterfly crafts to make, just check out this Pinterest page full of fun activities!

See For Yourself!

You can learn more about butterflies from the San Diego Zoo website or you can see for yourself by finding a butterfly garden that is near you! Learn about the different types of butterflies, what their habitats are, what they eat, and more! And who knows, maybe a butterfly will land on your finger too! You can also try to attract some butterflies at home with this homemade butterfly nectar

STEM Extension

Create a chart at home that features each stage of the life cycle! You can try this super cool idea of using differently shaped pasta to represent each stage and then write about what happens in each stage. You can also listen to this great song that puts the butterfly life cycle to a catchy tune! If you're looking to explore the life cycles of other living things, check out plants, chickens, frogs and other cool species!