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Butterfly Lesson for Children

Updated on December 17, 2015

Do you have a young child who loves butterflies? Create butterfly crafts and snacks, play butterfly games, and more in this fun, hands-on lesson exploring the amazing world of butterflies! I created this "lesson" to do as a two hour "play date" with my young children and some of their friends. Use this fun lesson with your class, family, or homeschool co-op group!

Image credit: http://www.whateverdeedeewants.com/2011/06/terrific-tuesdays-with-stephanie-of.html
Image credit: http://www.whateverdeedeewants.com/2011/06/terrific-tuesdays-with-stephanie-of.html

Introduction to Butterflies and Life Cycle

1. Pray. Read and discuss Psalm 37:7.

2. Read Becoming Butterflies by Anne Rockwell.

3. Life Cycle: Quickly discuss the life cycle of a butterfly. Pass out glue, a paper plate, and a piece of uncooked rice, rotini shaped pasta, shell-shaped pasta, and bow tie shaped pasta. Ask children to hold up what a butterfly looks like first (the rice when it is an egg). Have the children glue that to the plate. Which piece of pasta looks like a butterfly's next stage of life? (the rotini when it is a caterpillar). Have them glue that next. Then what a butterfly become? (the shell-shaped pasta when it is a chrysalis). They will glue that. Finally it becomes a butterfly. The children will paste on the bow tie shaped pasta.

YOU WILL NEED: (per child) glue, a paper plate, and a piece of uncooked rice, rotini shaped pasta, shell-shaped pasta, and bow tie shaped pasta

Book to read for activity 2

Becoming Butterflies
Becoming Butterflies

This is our favorite book on the life cycle of butterflies. It is the story of a classroom who watches a monarch butterfly develop. The illustrations are sweet and keep the attention of even the youngest children; plus, it includes all the educational information woven into the story line.

 
Image credit: http://www.parenting.com/article/coffee-filter-butterfly
Image credit: http://www.parenting.com/article/coffee-filter-butterfly

Butterfly Varieties

4. Flip through some of the photos in the book The Life Cycles of Butterflies by Judy Burris and focus on butterfly types, shapes, and colors.

5. Make coffee filter butterflies. If desired, ahead of time use a black sharpie marker to outline the outside ring of a coffee filter. This is not necessary but it looks a little more authentic. Allow children to use markers or watercolor paints to loosely color in the coffee filter. Older children can use a photo of a particular type of butterfly to get an idea of the color scheme. If using markers, have the children use a small amount of water to paint over the coffee filter to allow the colors to bleed together. After about 30-45 minutes they will be dry and ready for the next step.

YOU WILL NEED: sharpie markers (optional), markers or watercolor paints, paper coffee filters, small containers for water, newspaper or mats to cover the table, & paintbrushes

Book to use for activity 4

The Life Cycles of Butterflies: From Egg to Maturity, a Visual Guide to 23 Common Garden Butterflies
The Life Cycles of Butterflies: From Egg to Maturity, a Visual Guide to 23 Common Garden Butterflies

We LOVE this book. It includes gorgeous photographs of butterflies in all their stages of life. We have used this book numerous times to identify what type of butterfly we might see soon after we spy a caterpillar in our yard.

 
Image credit: http://supertipsonline.com/2012/05/insect-lore-live-butterfly-garden/
Image credit: http://supertipsonline.com/2012/05/insect-lore-live-butterfly-garden/

Caterpillars

6. (Optional) Show the caterpillars that we ordered from Insect Lore and talk about their development. Remind the children that we will have to wait patiently in order to watch them transform into butterflies.

YOU WILL NEED: a caterpillar kit from Insect Lore

7. (Optional) Have children fold a paper into 4 parts. Ask them to remember the story we read, Becoming Butterflies. We will draw the life cycle of our caterpillars just like the children did in that story. In the second square have the children draw what our caterpillars look like now. Ask them what they looked like before they were caterpillars and to draw that. (An egg that looks like a dot.)

YOU WILL NEED: paper and crayons

Kit we used for activity 6

Insect Lore Original Butterfly Garden with Voucher
Insect Lore Original Butterfly Garden with Voucher

This kit comes with everything you need to watch caterpillars become butterflies. The caterpillars will arrive by mail. They are in a jar with food. You get to watch them eat and grow. They will attach themselves to the lid as chrysalises. You then transfer them into the pop-up cage where they will hatch out as butterflies after a couple weeks. You can feed the butterflies sliced fruit and watch them flutter around for a few days and then have a "releasing party." We've ordered this kit twice and my children are always delighted to watch the process! After releasing the butterflies, we use the pop-up cage to catch and observe other insects (and then release them again).

 
Image credit: http://mealplanningmommies.blogspot.com/2010/06/bonus-kids-snacks-breakfast-on-go-and.html
Image credit: http://mealplanningmommies.blogspot.com/2010/06/bonus-kids-snacks-breakfast-on-go-and.html

Butterfly Anatomy

8. Flip through more photos in the book The Life Cycles of Butterflies by Judy Burris and focus on the caterpillars. See if the children can figure out what type of butterfly we will eventually have judging from what our caterpillars look like. Next, point out the general anatomy of a butterfly.

9. Give each child a baby carrot (body), 4 or 6 apple slices (wings), some raisins, 6 matchstick carrots (legs), and 2 pretzel sticks (antenna). Have them assemble a butterfly using the food they have been given. Then allow them to eat their butterfly.

YOU WILL NEED: (per child) a baby carrot, 4 or 6 apple slices, some raisins, 6 matchstick carrots, and 2 pretzel sticks

10. Compound Eyes: Talk about how butterflies see things with compound eyes. Look through a colander to demonstrate in a simplified manner what the world looks like when you have compound eyes.

YOU WILL NEED: a colander

Image credit: http://www.squawkfox.com/2011/09/19/butterfly-snack/
Image credit: http://www.squawkfox.com/2011/09/19/butterfly-snack/

11. Finish the coffee filter butterflies but having the children fold the dried coffee filter accordion style and then folding a pipe cleaner across the middle and twisting the two ends to make them look like antenna.

YOU WILL NEED: (per child) a pipe cleaner

12. Have children make a butterfly snack bag to take home. Let them decorate a clothespin with a marker to be the body of the butterfly. They can either draw on eyes or glue googly eyes at the bottom of the clothespin (the part that pinches). Place snacks inside a snack-size ziplock bag. Pin the clothespin through the middle of the bag so that each side hanging out looks like wings. Fold a pipe cleaner in half and twist it to look like antenna. Include that atop the snack bag.

YOU WILL NEED: (per child) markers, googly eyes & glue (optional), snack-size ziplock bag 1-2 pipe cleaners, & small snacks

Image credit: http://aames3.wordpress.com/2011/04/10/from-playing-tag-to-price-tags/
Image credit: http://aames3.wordpress.com/2011/04/10/from-playing-tag-to-price-tags/

Monarch Migration

12. Read Hurry and the Monarch by Antoine O Flatharta.

13. Go outside and play "Butterfly Migration" by letting the children run or "flutter" from one spot to the next (to the maple tree, to the flower bed, to the oak tree, to the back patio, to the bush, & to the fence). After they have reached their destination, have them run or "flutter" back the exact same way them came. If you have especially energetic children, have them race through all the migration stations and back.

14. Review what we learned.

Book we read for activity 12

Hurry and the Monarch
Hurry and the Monarch

We read many great books on monarch migration. This was a nice option because it included a cute story line amid all the educational information. In this story a monarch befriends a tortoise as she migrates from Canada to Mexico. She lays eggs near the tortoise and it gets to watch as they hatch and transform into more monarch butterflies.

 

Materials Used For This Lesson

-Book: Becoming Butterflies by Anne Rockwell
-(per child) glue, a paper plate, and a piece of uncooked rice, rotini shaped pasta, shell-shaped pasta, and bow tie shaped pasta
-Book: The Life Cycles of Butterflies by Judy Burris
-sharpie markers (optional), markers or watercolor paints, paper coffee filters, small containers for water, newspaper or mats to cover the table, & paintbrushes
-(Optional) a caterpillar kit from Insect Lore
-(Optional) paper and crayons
-(per child) a baby carrot, 4 or 6 apple slices, some raisins, 6 matchstick carrots, and 2 pretzel sticks
-a colander
-(per child) a pipe cleaner
-(per child) markers, googly eyes & glue (optional), snack-size ziplock bag 1-2 pipe cleaners, & small snacks
-Book: Hurry and the Monarch by Antoine O Flatharta

Looking for More of Our Favorite Picture Books on Butterflies?

Click thumbnail to view full-size
From Caterpillar to Butterfly Big Book (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science 1) by Deborah Heiligman - All images are from amazon.com.My, Oh My--A Butterfly!: All About Butterflies (Cat in the Hat's Learning Library) by Tish Rabe Are You a Butterfly? (Backyard Books) by Judy AllenIt's a Butterfly's Life by Irene KellyThe Butterfly Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta
From Caterpillar to Butterfly Big Book (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science 1) by Deborah Heiligman - All images are from amazon.com.
From Caterpillar to Butterfly Big Book (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science 1) by Deborah Heiligman - All images are from amazon.com.
My, Oh My--A Butterfly!: All About Butterflies (Cat in the Hat's Learning Library) by Tish Rabe
My, Oh My--A Butterfly!: All About Butterflies (Cat in the Hat's Learning Library) by Tish Rabe
Are You a Butterfly? (Backyard Books) by Judy Allen
Are You a Butterfly? (Backyard Books) by Judy Allen
It's a Butterfly's Life by Irene Kelly
It's a Butterfly's Life by Irene Kelly
The Butterfly Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta
The Butterfly Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta

We also loved From Caterpillar to Butterfly (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science 1) by Deborah Heiligman My, Oh My--A Butterfly!: All About Butterflies (Cat in the Hat's Learning Library) by Tish Rabe, Are You a Butterfly? (Backyard Books) by Judy Allen, It's a Butterfly's Life by Irene Kelly, and The Butterfly Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta. If you have extra time to read, we also really enjoyed the picture books Waiting for Wings by Lois Ehlert, Caterpillar Caterpillar by Vivian French, Where Butterflies Grow by Joanne Ryder, Butterfly the Book (Look-Look) by Michael Berenstain, and Butterflies in the Garden by Carol Lerner and the easy reader books (with photographs rather than illustrations) National Geographic Readers: Caterpillar to Butterfly by Laura Marsh and Butterflies (Penguin Young Readers, L2) by Emily Neye.

Want More?

Free Lapbook Pages, Worksheets, & Craft Ideas

Click on the below links to find free butterfly lapbooks:

Lapbook Based on The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Butterfly Lapbook

Butterfly Worksheets and Activity Ideas on Pinterest

Lapbook Based on Isabel's House of Butterflies by Tony Johnston Cut and paste this link: http://www.homeschoolshare.com/isabel.php

Looking for all of my "play date" lessons written specifically for young children?

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Visiting a horse as part of the lesson on horses
Building a bird house during the lesson on home construction
Building a bird house during the lesson on home construction

Explore horse breeds, gaits, diet, and more through games, cooking, and activities in the lesson on horses. Create a model lighthouse, play a lighthouse game, read books about lighthouses, "tour" lighthouses using YouTube, and even eat a lighthouse in this fun, hands-on lesson on lighthouses. Act like privates while training at boot camp, paint camo-style hats, set up a tent, battle using army men, and more in this exciting lesson the military.

  • Horse Lesson Plan for Younger Children - Do you have a young child who loves horses? Use this fun, hands-on lesson or play date activity to explore horse breeds, gaits, diet, and more!
  • Building & Home Construction for Young Children - Do you have a young child who loves tools and building things? Build and paint a bird house, construct a house out of pretzels, and more in this fun, hands-on lesson exploring the world of home construction!
  • Butterfly Lesson for Children - Do you have a young child who loves butterflies? Create butterfly crafts and snacks, play butterfly games, and more in this fun, hands-on lesson exploring the amazing world of butterflies!
  • Ladybug Crafts for Kids - Do you have a young child like mine who loves ladybugs? Create easy and adorable ladybug crafts and edible ladybugs, read these delightful ladybug books, watch the short ladybug video clips, and assemble ladybug lapbooks and worksheets during this fun hands-on lesson on ladybugs.
  • Japan Lesson Plan for Younger Children - Make an origami paper crane, a carp fish kite, a Japanese meal, a Japanese doll, and more in this fun hands-on activity about Japan.
  • Lighthouse Lesson - Create a model lighthouse, play a lighthouse game, read books about lighthouses, tour lighthouses using YouTube, and even eat a lighthouse in this fun, hands-on lesson or family activity on lighthouses.
  • Sheep, Wool, & Weaving Lesson - Looking for fun preschool and kindergarten ideas on sheep and wool? Make and eat edible sheep, card and dye wool, paint sheep paintings, and more in this fun activity on sheep and wool!
  • Manners Lesson - Are you looking for a fun and interactive way to teach your children manners and etiquette? Use this fun role-playing lesson to practice manners at meals, on the phone, as a host or hostess, and more!
  • Military Party for Children - Act like privates while training at boot camp, paint camo-style hats, set up a tent, battle using army men, and more in this fun 2 hour lesson, party, or family activity on the military.
  • Laws and Obedience Lesson - Looking for a fun way to help preschoolers learn about obedience and laws? Create and eat edible 10 Commandments, play Cops and Robbers after reading about police officers, act of the fall of Adam and Eve, and more!
  • Illusion & Deception Lesson - Use this fun, hands-on lesson or family activity to explore deception and illusions in art, magic tricks, literature, and more!
  • Attributes of God Lesson for Young Children - Are you wondering how to teach your preschooler or young child about God and His character? Use this fun, hands-on lesson, family activity, or play group time to explore who God is and what He is like!
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  • Fun, FREE Hands-on Unit Studies - Looking for all of my lessons and unit studies? Over the years I have posted over 30 science and social-studies based unit studies, compromised of more than 140 lessons. For each lesson I have included activities (with photos), our favorite books and YouTube video clips, lapbook links, and other resources. I posted links to all of my unit studies and lessons at the above link.

Great YouTube Clips on Butterflies

Konos Volume I
Konos Volume I

Konos Curriculum

Would you like to teach this way every day?

Konos Curriculum

I use Konos Curriculum as a springboard from which to plan my lessons. It's a wonderful Christian curriculum and was created by moms with active children! You can even watch free on-line videos as Jessica, one of the co-authors of Konos, walks you through a unit. (Look for the Explanation Videos tab.)

Konos Home School Mentor

If you're new to homeschooling or in need of some fresh guidance, I highly recommend Konos' HomeSchoolMentor.com program! Watch videos on-line of what to do each day and how to teach it in this great hands-on format!

What Is Your Favorite Type of Butterfly?

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What first comes to mind when you think of butterflies? - Or just leave a note to let me know you dropped by! I love getting feedback from you!

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