Tips for Teaching the Butterfly Life cycle

Did you know that the butterfly life cycle is a beloved favorite among students? If you are a teacher and have a unit on insects, you will definitely want to introduce the butterfly lifecycle. Why do they love it so much? Well, they are easy to grow and the complete lifecycle only takes a few weeks! In this article, let’s explore what butterfly’s are, their life cycle, and how to introduce it in a fun, educational way in the classroom.

What are butterflies?

Butterflies are a type of adult flying insect. Their scientific name, Lepidoptera, is a Greek term referring to “scaly wings.” This term reflects what their wings look like up close: tiny scales that overlap into several rows to make up the whole wing. It also includes moths as part of their family. 

Since they are flying insects, they are distinguished by their bodies and wings. They have six jointed legs, two antennae, a head, a chest (known as thorax), and a tail end (known as the abdomen). They also have compound eyes like flies do. To eat, they have a proboscis, which is like a tube-like part similar to a tongue (like a special straw) that they use to suck their food into their bodies. Their bodies are covered with hairs all over them to help them feel the world around them.

Their wings have several parts to them. The upper wing is called the forewing and the lower one is the hind wing. They are covered in wing veins, which help them breathe in and out.

What is its life cycle?

After learning the parts of a butterfly, let’s take a look at how it becomes one through its lifecycle. The first step is when a female butterfly lays round eggs on the underside of a leaf. Once they hatch, this is when they enter the second stage which is they are now a larva or caterpillar. It is an insect with many legs and whose main purpose is to eat as much leaves as they can until they grow into a size large enough to go to the next stage. After that, it becomes a pupa, chrysalis, or cocoon, a shell it wraps itself in where it can undergo metamorphosis and emerge as an adult butterfly.

Why are butterflies a good choice to study during spring?

 Students can apply their scientific observation skills through this unit by observing the full butterfly life cycle with a metamorphosis kit. They can also compare them when they were caterpillars or butterflies. Finally, they can take note of their size, color, shape, activity, and diet too.

How can I teach it to my students?

Read Books to Them

There are lots of reading materials you can choose. You can show them their beauty through Madison and Hawkes’ Velma Gratch and the Way Cool Butterfly. This book even helps them understand the butterfly life cycle. Another is Butterfly’s Surprise: A Lift-the-Flap Book, a book by Grace Marcone and Valentina Belloni, where your students can step into a butterfly’s shoes and even learn about other springtime animals. If you want to focus on the butterfly lifecycle, get the classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.

Showing Them Videos

Keep your students on their feet by teaching them butterflies through a fun song! Using a fun, catchy song can help them remember details such as their life cycle or the parts on their body. You can include them as part of your morning meetings or squeeze it in your Science class. Here’s two examples!

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You can even let them watch adventures like the video below to understand what butterflies on school tube.

Raise Butterflies With Your Students

For this activity, you need to get a butterfly raising kit and use it with your students in the classroom. Make sure to follow the instructions and guide your students into keeping the caterpillars well-fed. The included mesh allows your students to observe them up close and personal. After you’re done with this lesson, you can even hold an event to release them into the wild. 

To compliment this lesson, check out my Butterfly Observation Set over on TpT! This contains various worksheets that you can use to help your students take note of what they can see while seeing the changes in front of their very eyes.

Don’t miss this FREE number sense butterfly craft that is available to download.

Any interesting experiences with raising butterflies in class? Comment it down below!