Fun Butterfly Life Cycle Ideas for Kids
Are you ready to transform your kindergarten classroom into a butterfly wonderland? If so, get ready for some egg-citing and chrysalis-tastic activity ideas that will have your students fluttering with excitement as they learn all about the life cycle of a butterfly. (See what I did there?)
Learning about the butterfly life cycle is a must-do for any budding young scientist or nature lover, and it’s also a great way to teach kids about growth and transformation. So, let’s spread our wings and get ready to explore the fascinating world of butterflies with these fun and educational activities. Your students will be buzzing with joy!
For the lesson plan this week, we have paired an informational book,
National Geographic Readers: Great Migrations Butterflies
by Laura Marsha is about a butterfly’s life cycle and their annual migration with a hilarious fiction book, The Very Impatient Caterpillar by Ross Burach. These are both great resources to add to your butterfly life cycle unit.
Engaging Nonfiction Book about Monarch Butterflies
This National Geographic book is more than just the different stages of a butterfly. Although there are many different butterfly species, this book focuses exclusively on monarch butterflies. I, myself, learned so much. I found myself saying, “Hey, I didn’t know that!”
This is one of the best books! It is fascinating and your kindergarten students or first grade students will love it!
This book is filled with real images of real butterflies and it is a perfect way to start your life cycle unit.
For instance, I did not know that there were two monarch populations that traveled different paths. I also did not realize that it took three to four generations of adult butterflies to travel north. Each of these generations live 2-6 weeks adults, the female butterfly leads the way as they travel as far as they can. The female lay eggs, then she dies. (This is when the students gasp with looks of horror.) Once those eggs hatch and the caterpillars reach their adult stage (AKA a beautiful butterfly), their journey continues.
Finally, at the end of summer, a super generation of monarchs hatch. These adult butterflies can live six to nine MONTHS! HOLD UP! This super generation lives like 8 times longer than their previous generations!
This super generation of butterflies migrates all the way back south.
All of these spectacular facts are added to an anchor chart so students can keep track of their learning.
Stages of a Butterfly Life Cycle
We also work on sequencing the butterfly life cycle. First, we put each stage of the butterfly life cycle in order. Then the students complete their own butterfly life cycle worksheets.
We also have a digital version that students can work on in Google Classroom or Seesaw!
This makes a great activity to share with parents. Students can record their voices as they describe the butterfly life cycle right inside the Seesaw app.
Monarch Butterfly Migration Mapping
Students also completed the monarch butterfly migration map.
All of the activities with printable worksheets you see above have been planned out for you. Simply print and teach:
In addition to reading the National Geographic book, here are a few videos we used in our butterfly research.
Butterfly: A Life | National Geographic
This video starts with monarch butterfly eggs and how it matures into an adult. Then you follow the adult butterfly’s migration.
Here is another great video!
This is a great video that shares and explains each stage of a butterflies life cycle:
Life Cycle of Butterflies Song
This is a fun song about the different stages of the butterfly life cycle. I’ve always loved Harry Kindergarten videos and this one is great for a few reasons.
- It is Harry Kindergarten and he is awesome!
- Vocabulary! This video is filled with vocabulary! He uses multiple Tier 2 (unique, scaly and 3 words (metamorphosis, molting, cocoon, pupa, larva) as he explains each stage of the cycle.
The Very Impatient Caterpillar
Our Butterfly Engaging Readers unit combines informational text with narrative text! We love the humor in this fun book!
In addition to using this book as part of our reading comprehension units, we can also use it for writing lessons! You could have lessons on:
- expression and tone
- speech bubbles
- passage of time
Students worked on making predictions. Here is the writing prompt:
Readers make predictions as they read. The caterpillar said, “That’s it. I feel metamorphosized enough!” What do you think he will do next?
I love the students’ illustrations!
Sequencing the Story Events
Usually, on the second day of the book, we work on retelling the story events in sequential order. We start with a whole group activity.
Once the events are in order, then each student turns towards their reading partner and orally retells the story. This is such a great way to build oral language skills. If a student loses track of the events, they can glance at the chart for some support.
This retelling is also digital so it makes a great center activity too!
Students complete their own version as well.
We also ask students to make an inference. Here is the writing prompt:
Readers infer to help them understand what is happening in the story. Think about the last page of the story. Do you think he changed and will be more patient? Why or why not?
Butterfly Directed Drawings
Directed drawings are one of my favorite art projects. It is a great way to help reluctant artists feel supported. Step-by-step directions make these drawings something that all students can be successful with.
Here are just a few!
Nonfiction Butterfly Books for Kids
If you are wishing to do additional research, here are a few other butterfly nonfiction books I recommend.
This book is filled with stunning illustrations of different types of butterflies and moths. Naturally, I’m also drawn to the word choice and vocabulary, as it is another fantastic mentor text to use in writing.
The detailed butterfly life cycle picture by Sylvia Long is stunning!
This book is perfect for elementary students and young kids of all ages.
This is a book that is set to publish in September of 2023. I’ve already ordered it because the illustrations are amazing. I love the diagram of a butterfly and a moth.
Butterflies Are Pretty … Gross!
This is a funny book, but it is also filled with interesting information. Here is what the publisher says about it:
Butterflies are beautiful and quiet and gentle and sparkly . . . but that’s not the whole truth. Butterflies can be GROSS. Did you know some butterflies enjoy feasting on dead animals, rotten fruit, tears, and even poop? Some butterflies are loud, like the Cracker butterfly. Some are stinky — the smell scares predators away. Butterflies can be sneaky, like the ones who pretend to be ants to get free babysitting.
Butterfly Kit for Your Classroom
Insect Lore has been making butterfly habitat kits forEVER! They have over 20k ratings on Amazon. You can get the kit pretty quickly, then you will get a voucher for real caterpillars. Here is a note about the weather:
Before You Grow
Check the temperature! It’s best to do this project when the weather in your area is between 55-85 degrees Fahrenheit. This might make a great early May activity.
Poem about Metamorphosis
A few years ago, I wrote this poem about butterflies! It is a great addition to your lessons
We sing this song all week and the students add the poem to their poetry notebook!
I hope you were able to find a few ideas to add to your butterfly life cycle unit!