How a Caterpillar Becomes a Butterfly
Grade Level(s): K, 1
Duration: 30-45 minutes
Description: The activity is intended to teach the life
cycle of a butterfly. Students will role play and draw the various
stages an insect goes through to become a butterfly.
Goals: California State Standards :
Life Sciences Standard 2 (Grade 1): Plants and animals meet their
needs in different ways. As a basis for understanding this concept:
a. Students know different plants and animals inhabit different
kinds of environments and have external features that help them
thrive in different kinds of places.
b. Students know both plants and animals need water, animals need
food, and plants need light.
c. Students know animals eat plants or other animals for food and
may also use plants or even other animals for shelter and nesting.
Objective: Students will role play and draw the various stages an
insect goes through to become a butterfly.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
(available in The Nature Store here)
string and paper butterfly (teacher-made)
pretend butterfly wings (teacher-made)
butterfly puppet (if available)
live caterpillar in a jar (optional for observations during a butterfly
Know the stages a butterfly goes through: egg...larvae...pupa...butterfly.
Butterflies emerge from chrysalises; moths emerge from cocoons.
Some butterflies reflect in their wing color things they have eaten.
There are some differences in moths and butterflies: butterflies
have balls on the end of antennae; many butterflies have a smaller
thorax than moths; butterflies have 3 main body regions (head, thorax,
abdomen); butterflies have 3 pairs of jointed legs; butterflies
have one pair of antennae.
"Boys and girls, I am going to do a magic trick, and I want
you to watch very carefully what I am about to do." Get an
ordinary string and stretch it out... (Keeping one hand clutched
in a ball with a paper butterfly inside)... as children watch, slowly
stick the string inside the balled up hand from the top. When the
string is all inside, tell the children something magical is happening
to the string. Have them count slowly to three and then pull out
the butterfly from the bottom. While you are flittering it around
with the other hand, the one holding the string sticks the string
in your pocket. Students will be amazed!
'Today we are going to see the different stages a caterpillar goes
through to become a butterfly... like my string caterpillar did.
I will do this again at the end of the lesson and let you in on
my secret... but you must be good listeners."
Read the story, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Stop
periodically to ask questions to internalize the story. Choose the
best listeners to act out the story. One child can be the caterpillar
and other children can pretend to be the food items. The caterpillar
begins in a ball position until it hatches. It crawls out and around
as the story is re-read and eats the food. It crawls under the sheet
(chrysalis) and puts on wings... when the story is over it emerges
as a butterfly.
As students go through the role playing, stop at various intervals
and tell the scientific name for the stage of the caterpillar.
Have children make the movements of a caterpillar with their hands
while you show with a puppet:
egg (hand in fist position)
larva (index finger extended, scrunched, extended, ...)
pupa (index finger inside other hand's fist [like hot dog])
butterfly (two hands interlocking an doing flying motion)
Conduct the "magic trick" again. This time slow down so
students can see what happened. Give them a piece of string and
a butterfly to try on their own. Students will be allowed to take
the string home and demonstrate it to a family member.
Assessment: In their journals, students should draw the various
stages a butterfly goes through. Students may label the pictures
using invented spelling.