Life Cycle of Butterflies

Grade Levels: 4 - 5

Students will:

  • learn the term metamorphosis as it pertains to the insect order, Lepidoptera.
  • recognize stages in a butterfly's life cycle.
  • begin researching and organizing scientific information into categories (habitats, bodies, prey, and predators).
  • ask questions that will extend and inform their research.



  1. Introduce key vocabulary: chrysalis, larva, Lepidoptera, metamorphosis, pupa.
  2. Set bookmark to the Children's Butterfly Site (http://www.kidsbutterfly.org/), which shows butterfly diagrams and photographs, explains butterfly and moth life cycles, answers FAQs and provides links to other butterfly websites.
  3. Have students click on the coloring page, which shows the life cycle of a butterfly or moth in drawings and writing. As they read the descriptions of each stage in the life cycle, they should use the Butterfly Life Cycle worksheet to draw and label each stage.
  4. Students return to the home page of the Children's Butterfly Site (http://www.kidsbutterfly.org/). Then click on frequently asked questions. Students should start by looking at the answer to the first question, which shows a diagram of a butterfly body.
  5. Next, they may click on questions that interest them, then record facts in the appropriate section on their Butterfly Facts and Questions worksheet. They may also record questions they have, to be answered by doing further research later.

Student progress can be measured by:

  • the information recorded on their worksheets.
  • a presentation of what they've learned to a small group, their class, or another class.
  • the score they receive on the Butterfly Life Cycle quiz.


  • Have students send caterpillar and butterfly questions from their worksheets to the Children's Butterfly Site (http://www.kidsbutterfly.org/) expert via email.
  • Students can go to the Gallery page of Children's Butterfly Site (http://www.kidsbutterfly.org/) to see photographs of butterflies and moths from around the world.
  • Encourage students to practice reading Eric Carle's book, A Very Hungry Caterpillar, so that they can read it aloud to younger students or siblings.
  • Using paper cutouts and popsicle sticks, students can make four life-cycle puppets (Egg, Larva, Pupa, Adult), and then perform in a life-cycle puppet show.
  • Send students to your school or local library to find books about different butterflies, then have them use a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast caterpillar and butterfly habitats, bodies, prey, and predators.
  • Have students investigate which host plants can be planted to attract specific butterflies to lay eggs, or order larva that will go through metamorphosis in your classroom.

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