For the first day of our butterfly unit study we learned about the butterfly life cycle. We learned that the butterfly and the moth life cycles are very similar. We made some life cycle crafts and did some writing and reading as well.
Butterfly & Moth Life Cycle
1. Discuss: Ask the children “How do butterflies and moths grow? Do they start out as little babies like us or from eggs like snakes, frogs, turtles, and birds?” Because butterflies and moths are insects they start out as an egg. When the egg hatches the butterfly or moth is called a caterpillar or larva. Caterpillars spend most of their time feeding on plants and grow very quickly. A caterpillar grows into a pupa. A butterfly pupa is called a chrysalis and a moth pupa is a cocoon. What do you think happens to the pupa inside a chrysalis or cocoon? The pupa is turning into a butterfly or a moth. This process of change from caterpillar to butterfly or moth is called metamorphosis. Have the children repeat the word “metamorphosis.” During the pupa stage the transformation from larva to adult is completed. Butterflies make a chrysalis to protect them as pupae.Many butterfly pupae are well-camouflaged, since they can’t escape from predators by flying away. Just before the butterfly emerges, you can see their wing patterns through the pupa covering. The pupa stage usually last ten to fourteen days.
2. Read: Caterpillar to Butterfly by Camilla de la Bedoyere
3. Review: Review the butterfly life cycle with hand motions. What is the first stage in a butterfly’s metamorphosis? An egg (hand clutched tight in a fist). What is the second stage of a butterfly’s metamorphosis? A caterpillar (index finger extended, scrunched, extended, scrunched). What is the third stage of a butterfly’s metamorphosis? A chrysalis (index finger wrapped by other hand-like a hotdog). What is the last stage of a butterfly’s metamorphosis? A butterfly (thumbs interlocked, fingers wiggling and making a flying motion).
4. Comprehension questions: What are the 4 stages of butterfly or moth metamorphosis? Egg, larva (caterpillar), pupa (chrysalis or cocoon), adult (butterfly or moth)
Toilet paper tube
Green tissue paper
Another color tissue paper
You can act out how the butterfly wraps itself in the chrysalis shell, and then emerges, after a few weeks, with it’s wings crumpled, and wet. To sun itself, and gradually dry, and straighten out it’s wings, ready to fly.
Life Cycle Metamorphosis Activity
- Drawing Paper
Label a Life Cycle
larva – also called the caterpillar hatches from the egg. The larva spends its time eating, growing and molting (shedding its outgrown exoskeleton).
pupa – the stage in a butterfly’s life when it is encased in a chrysalis and undergoes metamorphosis into the adult.
egg – the tiny orb laid by a female butterfly. Eggs are usually laid on the underside of leaves – they hatch into larvae.
Butterfly Life Cycle Picture Wheel
Bowl with about 8 inch diameter
2 pieces of cardstock
Crayons or markers
Copy of butterfly life cycle pictures
- Place the bowl upside on the cardstock and trace a circle around it. Do this to both pieces of the cardstock. Add a little handle to the wheel. Cut out both pieces.
- Cut a triangle out of one wheel with the tip of the triangle almost to the center of the wheel as pictured.
- Color the life cycle pictures and then cut them out.
- Have the children sequence the pictures in the correct order to help with the next step.
- Glue the pictures in order around the whole wheel.
- Punch a whole in the center of the 2 wheels and place the one with the triangle cut out on the top.
- Connect the wheels with a paper fastener.
Butterfly Unit Study