Students will illustrate a butterfly’s four-stage life cycle, from egg to caterpillar to pupa to butterfly, on a three-dimensional mobile.

What You Need: 

  • Paper plates, one per student
  • Crayons, markers, or colored pencils in various colors
  • 9 x 12-inch green construction paper, one sheet per four students
  • 9 x 12-inch brown construction paper, one sheet per four students
  • 9 x 12-inch construction paper in various colors, at least one sheet per student
  • 2-foot pieces of string, one per student
  • Scissors
  • Glue, tape, or staplers
  • Optional: Images of caterpillars, chrysalises, and butterflies to provide as inspiration.

What You Do:

  1. Before class, cut the green and brown construction paper into quarter sheets. You should have at least one quarter sheet per student.
  2. In the classroom, have your students draw a spiral on a paper plate. The spiral should start in the middle of the plate and end at the edge of the plate.
  3. Now the students can color the paper plates however they’d like.
  4. Once the plates are decorated, have your students carefully cut along the spiral line, beginning at the edge of the paper plate.
  5. Hand out the quarters of green construction paper and instruct your students to cut out the shape of a leaf.
  6. Have your students draw small circles on the leaf. These circles will represent the butterfly eggs.
  7. Now the students can choose a sheet of construction paper in any color. Have the students cut out the shape of a caterpillar and color it any way they’d like. Note: For older students, you may want to provide pictures of caterpillars and their butterfly counterparts so students can make a matching set of butterfly stages.
  8. Give your students each a quarter sheet of the brown construction paper and have them cut out a chrysalis shape. Note: Like caterpillar colors, chrysalises also vary by butterfly species. You may want to provide pictures of different chrysalises as inspiration for your students.
  9. Have your students choose a sheet of construction paper in a different color than their caterpillar. To create the butterfly, your students should fold the sheet of construction paper in half. Then they can draw half of a butterfly at the crease of the paper. When they cut along their drawing, the will create a butterfly shape with equally sized wings.
  10. Have your students color their butterflies as they’d like.
  11. Help your students cut one 2-foot piece of string into five pieces of different sizes, anywhere from three to six inches long.
  12. Now help your students use glue, tape, or a stapler to attach four of their string pieces the backs of their leaf, caterpillar, pupa, and butterfly so each stage has its own string, as shown.
  13. Have your students attach the final fifth piece of string to the middle of the paper plate spiral for hanging. Then they should attach the other four pieces of string, with butterfly parts, to the spiral.
  14. Hang your mobiles!