Who'd have thought a tiny critter could grow into a stunning butterfly? Share with your students their incredible life cycle and turn your classroom into a conservatory of beautiful butterflies.
Students will learn the anatomy and life cycle of a butterfly.
Fiskars scissors, colorful paper, pipe cleaners, glue, various decorations such as beads, buttons, glitter, and tissue paper.
SET UP AND PREPARE
Today, you and your students will make caterpillars and transform them into beautiful butterflies. You’ll also learn the many body parts of a caterpillar and a butterfly.
1. Share with your students how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly through a process known as metamorphosis. Explain that metamorphosis is when and animal changes after birth in appearance or behavior.
1. Begin by reviewing the first 2 stages in the life cycle of a butterfly:
- Egg. The butterfly begins its life as an egg, laid by an adult butterfly. After 3 to 5 days, the egg hatches and a small worm-like creature called a caterpillar, also know as a larva, is born.
- Caterpillar. After the caterpillar hatches from the egg, it begins to eat and eat. As it grows, it sheds its skin.
2. Have students cut out construction paper caterpillars and locate the parts of the body: the head, the thorax (chest), and the abdomen (tail end).
3. Review the third stage in the life cycle.
- Pupa. Once the caterpillar is full from eating, it finds a place on a leaf to make its home. The caterpillar then spins silk from its spinneret, which is a tube-like structure on the caterpillar’s lip. The caterpillar attaches a strand of silk to the leaf and hangs upside-down, where it sheds its skin one more time. Once the new skin hardens, it forms a green pod called a chrysalis.
4. Have students locate the spinneret on their paper caterpillars. Then, review the fourth and final stage in the life cycle.
- Adult Butterfly. The caterpillar stays inside the chrysalis for about 10 days and during this time, it grows and changes into a butterfly. The butterfly breaks out of the chrysalis and spreads its wings. At first, the wings are very fragile, but as the butterfly stretches and moves, they become strong enough to fly. Once the butterfly is old enough, it lays eggs of its own, and the cycle begins all over again!
5. Have students cut out 2 paper wings to glue to their caterpillars. Next, locate the parts of the butterfly wings: forewing (top tip of the wing), hind wing (bottom tip of the wing), and wing veins. Wing veins run through the butterfly’s wings just like veins in your hands do!
6. Lastly, have students add a pair of antenna (pipe cleaners), and a compound eye (a bead or button) to their butterflies.
7. Give your butterflies some personality! Have students decorate their butterflies with tissue paper, glitter, beads, and any other colorful supplies you have in the classroom. Tie a string to the wing of each butterfly and hang them together to make a butterfly mobile.