K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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Related pages

  • Butterfly cycle: Students will understand the life cycle of the butterfly and create various art activities that would model metamorphosis.
  • Life cycle of painted lady butterflies: Students will make a chart of the life cycle of the painted lady butterflies that the class observes over a period of several days.
  • An integrated lesson comparing the butterfly and frog life cycles: Students will build on their prior knowledge about the butterfly life cycle to compare and contrast the life cycles of butterflies and frogs. Students will locate butterflies on the school grounds and create pictographs and models of fractions to explain their findings mathematically. Students will also use a variety of resources to read about and study the food, space and air needed by butterflies and frogs to grow. They will create visual and written products to demonstrate their findings.

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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • pronounce the word metamorphosis and explain what it means.
  • match word cards for the butterfly stages with plastic models.
  • construct a model of butterfly metamorphosis and label the stages.
  • write a paragraph explaining the process of butterfly metamorphosis.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

1 Week


  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  • plastic butterfly models
  • sentence strips for word cards
  • white paper plates
  • green and white construction paper
  • lentil seeds
  • colored pipe cleaners
  • small twigs
  • colored tissue paper
  • scissors
  • glue
  • black marker
  • chalkboard


Before I do this lesson, I like for the students to have already seen pictures and live examples of caterpillars and butterflies.


Day One

  1. Show students the pictures in the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Have them predict what the story is about.
  2. Read The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
  3. Discuss the changes the butterfly goes through and introduce the word metamorphosis.
  4. Have the students clap the number of syllables and pronounce the word several times.
  5. Show the plastic models of each stage of metamorphosis with the word card to match the stage. Discuss the changes the children notice with each new stage.

Day Two

  1. Review the word metamorphosis and the stages for a butterfly using the plastic models and word cards.
  2. Show an example of the paper plate model of the butterfly’s life cycle.
  3. Divide a paper plate in half by drawing a black line with a marker. Then divide the plate into quarters. Discuss halves and equal parts with students.
  4. Draw a large circle divided into quarters on the chalkboard. Starting in the upper left quadrant and continuing in a clockwise manner, label the quadrants “egg,” “larva,” “pupa,” and “adult butterfly.”
  5. Students label their paper plates accordingly.
  6. In the section labeled “egg” students cut and glue a green construction paper leaf and put a dried lentil on a spot of glue on the leaf.
  7. For the section labeled “larva” students twist two different colored pipe cleaners together and glue the resulting caterpillar to the plate.
  8. For the “pupa,” students cut a triangle from white construction paper, roll it, and glue it, alongside a twig, to the plate.
  9. For the “adult butterfly” stage, students accordion fold a square of tissue paper, hold it together in the middle with a piece of pipe cleaner, and glue it to the plate.

Day Three

  1. Let several students show their paper plate models to the class and describe the stages orally.
  2. Have students help come up with a good introductory sentence to write about the stages that the butterfly goes through.
  3. Have students write a paragraph to describe the life cycle. Encourage them to use words such as “first,” “second,” “next,” and “last.”

Day Four

  1. Review things to look for when editing and editing symbols.
  2. Have students edit their paragraphs in pairs; and then meet with the teacher to edit further.

Day Five

  1. Students rewrite their edited paragraphs.
  2. Hang paper plate models on the wall along with rewritten paragraphs.


The teacher can assess whether or not objectives are being met by listening to the students’ oral descriptions of metamorphosis and by reading the paragraphs written by the students.

Supplemental information

The idea for the paper plate representation of the butterfly life cycle came from The Primary Mailbox Magazine, April/May 1994, p. 36.


The plastic butterfly models and matching life cycle stage word cards can be placed in the science center during the week that you complete the above activities.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • English Language Arts (2010)
      • Language

        • Grade 1
          • 1.L.6 Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts, including using frequently occurring conjunctions to signal simple relationships (e.g., because).
        • Writing

          • 1.W.2 Write informative/explanatory texts in which they name a topic, supply some facts about the topic, and provide some sense of closure.
        • Grade 2
          • 2.W.2 Write informative/explanatory texts in which they introduce a topic, use facts and definitions to develop points, and provide a concluding statement or section.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Science (2010)
      • Grade 1

        • 1.L.1 Understand characteristics of various environments and behaviors of humans that enable plants and animals to survive. 1.L.1.1 Recognize that plants and animals need air, water, light (plants only), space, food and shelter and that these may be found...
        • 1.L.2 Summarize the needs of living organisms for energy and growth. 1.L.2.1 Summarize the basic needs of a variety of different plants (including air, water, nutrients, and light) for energy and growth. 1.L.2.2 Summarize the basic needs of a variety of different...
      • Grade 2

        • 2.L.1 Understand animal life cycles. 2.L.1.1 Summarize the life cycle of animals: Birth Developing into an adult Reproducing Aging and death 2.L.1.2 Compare life cycles of different animals such as, but not limited to, mealworms, ladybugs, crickets, guppies...

    • Visual Arts Education (2010)
      • Grade 1

        • 1.CX.2 Understand the interdisciplinary connections and life applications of the visual arts. 1.CX.2.1 Identify the role of functional art in various communities around the world. 1.CX.2.2 Identify connections between art and concepts from other disciplines,...
        • 1.V.1 Use the language of visual arts to communicate effectively. 1.V.1.1 Identify tools, media and processes. 1.V.1.2 Create original art that expresses ideas, themes, and events. 1.V.1.3 Recognize that symbols, subjects, or themes are used in the works of...
        • 1.V.3 Create art using a variety of tools, media, and processes, safely and appropriately. 1.V.3.1 Use a variety of tools safely and appropriately to create art. 1.V.3.2 Execute control of a variety of media. 1.V.3.3 Use the processes of drawing, painting,...
      • Grade 2

        • 2.CX.2 Understand the interdisciplinary connections and life applications of the visual arts. 2.CX.2.1 Recognize the impact of regional differences on the production of art. 2.CX.2.2 Understand relationships between art and concepts from other disciplines,...
        • 2.V.1 Use the language of visual arts to communicate effectively. 2.V.1.1 Use appropriate art vocabulary when discussing media, processes, or images in art. 2.V.1.2 Create original art that expresses ideas about people, neighborhoods, or communities. 2.V.1.3...
        • 2.V.3 Create art using a variety of tools, media, and processes, safely and appropriately. 2.V.3.1 Use a variety of tools safely and appropriately to create art. 2.V.3.2 Recognize characteristics of a variety of media. 2.V.3.3 Use the processes of drawing,...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 1

  • Goal 1: The learner will develop and apply enabling strategies and skills to read and write.
    • Objective 1.01: Develop phonemic awareness and demonstrate knowledge of alphabetic principle:
      • count syllables in a word.
      • blend the phonemes of one-syllable words.
      • segment the phonemes of one-syllable words.
      • change the beginning, middle, and ending sounds to produce new words.
      • create and state a series of rhyming words that may include consonant blends (e.g., flag, brag).
  • Goal 3: The learner will make connections through the use of oral language, written language, and media and technology.
    • Objective 3.03: Discuss unfamiliar oral and/or written vocabulary after listening to or reading texts.
  • Goal 4: The learner will apply strategies and skills to create oral, written, and visual texts.
    • Objective 4.04: Extend skills in using oral and written language:
      • clarifying purposes for engaging in communication.
      • using clear and precise language to paraphrase messages.
      • engaging in more extended oral discussions.
      • producing written products.
      • completing graphic organizers.

Science (2005)

Grade 2

  • Goal 1: The learner will conduct investigations and build an understanding of animal life cycles.
    • Objective 1.01: Describe the life cycle of animals including:
      • Birth.
      • Developing into an adult.
      • Reproducing.
      • Aging and death.
    • Objective 1.02: Observe that insects need food, air and space to grow.
    • Objective 1.03: Observe the different stages of an insect life cycle.

Visual Arts Education (2001)

Grade 1

  • Goal 1: The learner will develop critical and creative thinking skills and perceptual awareness necessary for understanding and producing art.
    • Objective 1.02: Uses logical sequence to complete an activity.
  • Goal 2: The learner will develop skills necessary for understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes.
    • Objective 2.01: Become familiar with additional basic art media, techniques and processes which may include: fibers - papermaking and paper weaving.
  • Goal 7: The learner will perceive connections between visual arts and other disciplines.
    • Objective 7.01: Uses reading, writing and math in the creation of art.