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Butterfly Life Cycle
One of my favorite units of the year is the Butterfly Life Cycle. It’s so much fun to see my students get excited about the transformation of their caterpillars into butterflies! They get to see the science we learned come to life. Their little wheels start turning trying to figure out how in the world a caterpillar can turn into a butterfly. It’s really exciting to see!
When to order your caterpillars
Every year, around the third week of April, I order butterflies here. I’ve had a great experience ordering from Insect Lore and our caterpillars always do great. After your first year of doing caterpillars you should only need to order the caterpillar cups instead of the whole set.
Before our caterpillars arrive, we begin our Butterfly Life Cycle Unit. This unit is jam packed with tons of engaging resources to get your students excited about learning about the butterfly life cycle, including lesson plans! Check out the preview here.
Day 1: Beginning our unit
On the first day we start by discussing what a life cycle is. Before we start this unit I ask students to bring in a baby picture of themselves. We do a quick reading about life cycles and then I show a baby picture of myself and ask them to guess who they think it is. I love hearing their ideas! We then go through each of their baby pictures and they have a great time guessing which one of their friends it is. It is so much fun!
The next lesson we really start getting into the butterfly life cycle. We start our butterfly life cycle pictorial (pictured below). This is a great way for students to visualize the process. We go through each stage and I add onto the pictorial as we go through the stages. The picture below shows the first day of the butterfly life cycle. We also do a pictorial like this for the parts of a butterfly.
Once students are familiar with the butterfly life cycle our caterpillars arrive. On the first day, students take a few minutes to observe the tiny caterpillars and draw a picture on their metamorphosis calendar that’s included in the butterfly life cycle unit. Each day students will draw a quick picture of what they see in the cup. See below for an example of the metamorphosis calendar.
It takes about a week from the arrival of the caterpillars to transform into their chrysalis stage. Each day we discuss the changes we see. While the caterpillars are in their chrysalis, exciting changes are happening. I make sure the students are extra careful around the cups at this time, because the chrysalis can fall off the lid. Most of them will still open up, but it’s a fragile time. If the cup gets shakes are moved, the chrysalis will wiggle. Very interesting!
Around day 20, our butterflies will emerge. We let them go the next day and watch them fly away and begin their new journey.
Here’s a cool caterpillar I found at the beach!
This is a really fun unit and I hope you get a chance to try it out! If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below! Don’t forget to check out 10 Books that will Make you a Better Teacher.