DLTK's Crafts for Kids
April 2nd:  Maria Sibylla Merian
Celebrating the birthday of Maria Merian

Maria MerianMaria Sibylla Merian (April 2, 1647 – January 13, 1717) was a naturalist and scientific illustrator who studied plants and insects and painted them in great detail.  Her careful observations and documentation of the metamorphosis of the butterfly make her an important contributor to the scientific study of insects.

"In my youth, I spent my time investigating insects.  At the beginning, I started with silk worms in my home town of Frankfurt, [Germany].  I realised that other caterpillars produced beautiful butterflies or moths, and that silk worms did the same.  This led me to collect all the caterpillars I could find in order to see how they changed"

jigsaw puzzles

On-line Jigsaw Puzzles featuring some of Maria Merian's Artwork

preschool and kindergarten

Other activities on the site that are nice to do on Maria's birthday
butterfly life cycle

Butterfly Life Cycle Craft

preschool and kindergarten

butterfly sudoku

Butterfly Life Cycle Sudoku Word Puzzle

Kindergarten and grade school

frog life cycle

Frog Life Cycle Craft

preschool and kindergarten

insect crafts 

Insect and Bug Activities

insect coloring page

Insect Coloring Pages

More information about Maria Merian:

At first, Merian was a botanic artist - someone who drew realistic and detailed pictures of plants.  Afterward she studied insects, keeping her own live specimens.  She made detailed, scientific drawings showing insect metamorphosis, in which all life stages of the insect were shown in the same drawing.

When she was alive, the metamorphosis of animals was largely unknown -- most people at the time didn't realize that caterpillars turn into butterflies, that nymphs turn into dragonflies or that tadpoles turn into frogs.  Merian described the life cycles of 186 insect species.

Maria Merian shared her knowledge through a book she published called "The Caterpillars' Marvelous Transformation and Strange Floral Food".  She decided to write the book in "normal language" instead of Latin (most scientific books at the time were Latin).  This made the information more accessible to ordinary people not just scientists and it was very popular in certain sections of high society.

Merian also described many other details of the evolution and lifecycle of the insects she observed.  She could, for example, show that each stage of the change from caterpillar to butterfly depended on a small number of plants for its nourishment.  She noted that as a consequence the eggs were laid near these plants.

"I created the first classification for all the insects which had chrysalises, the daytime butterflies and the nighttime moths.  The second classification is that of the maggots, worms, flies, and bees.  I retained the indigenous names of the plants, because they were still in use in America by both the locals and the [Native Americans]".