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


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Related pages

  • Butterfly metamorphosis: This is an integrated lesson which is introduced using the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Butterfly metamorphosis is explored through art, math, and writing.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • learn the cycle of the butterfly and how to sequence the different stages
  • become familiar with butterfly vocabulary words
  • learn how to look up information using butterfly sites from the internet

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

3 hours




Life Cycle of the Butterfly Kit, sentence strips with story and stages of the butterfly, felt board. (This kit can be obtained from Lakeshore Learning Materials Item # RR925.

Art Materials

  • photocopy of The Very Hungry Butterfly to color and sequence
  • run-off story for students to color and put in order to show stages of the butterfly
  • bulletin board
  • print-out of green leaf
  • white paper for students to cut out eggs
  • felt
  • moveable eyes
  • brown paper towels
  • cotton balls
  • sticks
  • hot melt glue gun
  • straight pins
  • doll head clothespins
  • tissue paper

Technology resources

  • computer with internet access hooked to TV or a projector
  • Kidspiration software


The students will know what a butterfly is and where you could find butterflies. Teacher will discuss with students where they have seen butterflies and what they looked like.


  1. Teacher will read The Monarch Butterfly and introduce these vocabulary words: eggs, caterpillars, chrysalis, transparent, and metamorphosis.
  2. Teacher will hold up each stage of the butterfly and talk about it. Then the students will find each stage as the teacher calls out that stage and place it on the flannel board. Students should talk about each stage as they place it on the flannel board.
  3. The teacher mixes up the stages and reads From Caterpillar to Butterfly and lets students put stages in correct order as the story is being read.
  4. Students listen to Munch, Munch, Munch while they color and paste the Butterfly Life Cycle in the correct sequence.
  5. Read Caterpillar Diary as big book which also shows the life cycle of a butterfly.
  6. Talk about and look at the different kinds of butterflies. Have the book Butterfly Express handy so students can look at different kinds of butterflies.
  7. Read The Very Hungry Caterpillar and let students retell the story with the puppet.
  8. Students will make each stage of the butterfly’s life for an art project. For example, a large leaf can be cut from construction paper and then students will cut out small white circles for the egg, gluing them on the large leaf. Then for the caterpillar, they cut circles from felt and glue them together for the caterpillar’s body. Small moveable wiggly eyes can then be glued on the caterpillar. For the chrysalis, students stuff cotton balls inside a brown paper towel tube, pulling out some of the white of the cotton ball to represent the changing body. Then they glue them onto a stick. Finally, the butterfly can be created by using two squares of brightly colored tissue paper and slipping them in the slot of the doll-headed clothespins. Then the wings should be spread out to form the beautiful butterfly. See the illustration of the completed project found as an attachment in this lesson plan.
  9. A technology integration component could be the use of Kidspiration to create a graphic webbing of the Life Cycle of a Butterfly.


Teacher observations, classroom work participation, and completed activity sheets showing the life cycle of the butterfly.

A teacher designed internet test was created using Funbrain, a site teachers can use to host online quizzes for students. (Note: some portions of Funbrain are subscription only). An attached copy of this quiz is included in this lesson plan.

The technology assessment involves the students completing the Kidspiration activity and printing it.

Supplemental information

Books in this lesson are suggested books. There are many others that would work just as well with this lesson.


I thoroughly enjoyed teaching this butterfly unit. The students were very excited and had a desire to learn the information being presented. They worked very well together when doing the arts and crafts and when using the flannel board.

  • 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).
        • Grade 2
          • 2.L.6 Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts, including using adjectives and adverbs to describe (e.g., When other kids are happy that makes me happy).
      • Speaking & Listening

        • Grade 1
          • 1.SL.2 Ask and answer questions about key details in a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.
        • Grade 2
          • 2.SL.2 Recount or describe key ideas or details from a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.

  • 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,...
      • 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,...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Computer Technology Skills (2005)

Grade 2

  • Goal 2: The learner will demonstrate knowledge and skills in the use of computer and other technologies.
    • Objective 2.09: Identify and use multimedia tools to combine text and graphics as a class/group assignment. Strand - Multimedia/Presentation

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 2

  • Goal 2: The learner will develop and apply strategies and skills to comprehend text that is read, heard, and viewed.
    • Objective 2.01: Read and comprehend both narrative and expository text appropriate for grade two by:
      • determining purpose (reader's and author's).
      • making predictions.
      • asking questions.
      • locating information for specific reasons/purposes.
      • recognizing and applying text structure.
      • comprehending and evaluating author's decisions and word choice.
      • determining fact and opinion.
      • recognizing and comprehending figurative language.
      • making inferences and drawing conclusions.

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 1.03: Observe the different stages of an insect life cycle.

Visual Arts Education (2001)

Grade 2

  • Goal 1: The learner will develop critical and creative thinking skills and perceptual awareness necessary for understanding and producing art.
    • Objective 1.02: Plan and organize for creating art.
    • Objective 1.08: Recognize that images from reality and from fantasy may be used to create original art.