If you’ve got kids and you’re looking for a great way to blend both fun and education, consider planting a butterfly garden in your yard. They don’t need a lot of space or a lot of plants in order to be effective. In fact, with just a few simple tips in mind, you can create a garden that will teach children about butterflies, insects, plants, and gardens. And best of all? They’ll be having so much fun they won’t even realize they’re learning.

First, find a spot that will work as your garden. While butterfly gardens can be as small as a small plant in a pot – and as large as many acres of field – you really only need a plot that is roughly eight by ten feet or so. Less will still work, and bigger is fine, although it doesn’t have to be. Turn the soil over and add some fertilizer and compost. Don’t neglect this opportunity to talk about how compost is made and how a rich, nutrient-dense earth is more conducive to healthy plant life.

Second, get yourself some flowers. Butterflies are drawn to color, so think in terms of bright and vivid hues.

You might want to get a single butterfly bush – which, as its name suggests, is kind of like heaven for butterflies. Add some marigolds, some morning glories, some gladioli and some chrysanthemums. How about some sunflowers?

And if you’re targeting Monarch butterflies, be sure you’ve got a few common milkweed plants in there. Group the flowers together by color, which will make it easier for the insects to find your garden.

Be sure that you also have some patches of damp sand or soil available. Butterflies don’t drink per se, but they do need access to moisture in order to be healthy. After your garden is up and running, you can start waiting for the butterflies. Keep a journal on hand to track when the butterflies arrive and what species they are. Note the date so that if you plant again next year, you can compare your results.

Once your garden is alive with fluttering butterflies – not to mention hummingbirds and lady bugs and toads and other animals – your young scientists can have a real field day with Mother Nature.