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! 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!
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
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.
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
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.
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
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).
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
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
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
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
-(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?
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.
Free Lapbook Pages, Worksheets, & Craft Ideas
Click on the below links to find free butterfly lapbooks:
Lapbook Based on Isabel's House of Butterflies by Tony Johnston Cut and paste this link: http://www.homeschoolshare.com/isabel.php
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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
Would you like to teach this way every day?
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.)
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!