The Life Cycle of a Butterfly

The Life Cycle of a Butterfly

Lesson created by: Joy Lewallen
Houston Museum of Natural Science

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
1 set of butterfly life cycle pictures (colored, mounted, and laminated)
Class set of the 4 pictures from
Heavy white paper cut 8 ½ X 11
Crayons, markers, colored pencils

Show students the cover of The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Tell students that it is the story of a very hungry caterpillar that has something very special happen to him.

After reading the story, explain that there are four stages that a caterpillar goes through to become a butterfly. These stages are called metamorphosis, which means change. Show the students the four laminated pictures in order as you explain the life cycle. The egg becomes a larva which is the caterpillar. The caterpillar then becomes a pupa and wraps itself in a chrysalis where it grows into a butterfly. Tell students that sometimes a chrysalis can be found hanging from the underside of a leaf. When it is ready to fly, the butterfly chews its way out. After drying its wings in the sun, the butterfly flies away.

The students will use their bodies to demonstrate what metamorphosis looks like. First, tell them they will become an egg. Have them sit on the floor, grasp their knees, and tuck their head under. Demonstrate the position. Next, tell the students they will change into caterpillars by stretching out on the floor and wriggling. After that, they will stand very still and cross their arms tightly across their chest to look like the chrysalis. Finally, demonstrate how a butterfly gently stretches its wings and begins to flutter. Allow the students to fly around the room as butterflies in the rain forest.

Give each student the four coloring pages from Children's Butterfly Site. Depending on the grade level and writing ability, have students write or copy an explanation of the process of metamorphosis below the illustration on each page. After creating a cover, the students will arrange their pictures in the correct order and staple them together with the cover to make a booklet of the life cycle of a butterfly.