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Life Cycle of the Butterfly

Context for this Lesson


Focus Questions: What happens during the life cycle of a butterfly?  

  • Students will be able to sequence the events in the life cycle of a butterfly
  • Students will write scientific information on the butterfly’s life cycle
  • Students will understand what a cycle is and identify cycles seen in nature

Artifact: Pictures
You will have four pictures depicting different parts of the life cycle of the butterfly.  (egg, catapiller, cacoon, butterfly)  “We’re going look at a picture and talk about what we see. There are no right or wrong answers, and we may see different things in the same picture. Thumbs up if you understand the directions.” (Check for everyone’s thumbs) “Ready-GO.”

In a seated circle introduce one of the pictures. Use DAR to process what the students see.  Ask them to:
1.     Describe what shapes you see in this picture.
2.     Describe the colors you see in this picture.
3.     Thinking of all the shapes and colors we listed, who can make a prediction about what is in this picture.
Follow these questions for each picture, ensuring to show the butterfly picture last.

Now I want us to think about how these pictures relate to each other.
•                How are they the same?
•                How are they different?
•                What might these pictures have to do with each other?

Transition: “Now that we’ve looked at some pictures that have to do with butterflies, let’s see what else we know about butterflies.”


Brainstorm on the Wall (Modified Role on the Wall) 
Draw an outline of a butterfly on the board. Ask the participants to raise their hand to tell you anything they know about butterflies. Write the facts about butterflies inside the shape. Now draw a caterpillar next to the butterfly and ask for facts about caterpillars (if students bring up caterpillars becoming butterflies then draw the caterpillar at that point).
Transition: “We know lots of things about butterflies and caterpillars. Which is great because for our next activity we are going to become caterpillars and eventually butterflies!”
Narrative Pantomime (Optional- Read the book Born to Be a Butterfly to class)
"Friends when I say go I would like you to silently stand up frozen in your space. GO. Now we’re going to pick up our bubble suits, step in with our left foot and now with our right. Wiggle our arms in and zip up your bubble suit and blow your suit up to a big bubble. Once our bubble suits are on, we need to ensure we stay in our own bubbles keeping our hands to ourselves to make sure we don’t pop anyone’s bubble."
Facilitator announces they will be a butterfly. Participants should freeze until they are tapped to be a baby caterpillar growing inside a caterpillar egg.
Show me you are ready to begin by standing perfectly still, in your own bubble space, with your eyes on me. The butterfly moves from flower to flower laying eggs on the leaves. I'm the butterfly and when I tap you then you will become a caterpillar inside an egg. (Transform all of the students into caterpillars inside eggs) After the caterpillars grow big enough inside their eggs they start to munch and crunch as they eat through their egg shells. The caterpillars stretch and explore the trees to find some leaves. The caterpillars munch on leaves growing bigger and stronger. As they grow they wiggle shedding their skin four times-let’s wiggle and shed our caterpillar skin. Caterpillars-wiggle to shed our skin once, wiggle to shed our skin twice, wiggle to shed our skin three times and wiggle to shed our skin the fourth and last time. Then the caterpillars build their chrysalis around themselves until it’s finished and they lie inside it perfectly still. After a few days or sometimes weeks the Chrysalis splits open and a butterfly emerges. The butterflies fly towards flowers on our center carpet where they sit upon their flower.
What did the caterpillar do in the story?
What happened at the beginning of the story?
What happened in the middle?
What happened at the end?
What do you think will happen next?
Alternative Option: 4 Stages for Image work (If breaking lesson into 2 days-frozen pictures for these 4 stages can be used as Engage activity for day 2 prior to role work)
            1. Egg
            2. Caterpillar
            3. Chrysalis
            4. Butterfly
Role Work
Introduce that idea that you have a friend who writes book on science. Her name is Helen Lucia and she currently is working on a book about butterflies. She was hoping to come into class to see what the students knew/wanted to know about butterflies. Announce, “When I put on this hat I am going to become Helen Lucia.”  Teacher transitions into role by putting on a hat and introduces herself to the group as Helen Lucia. Helen tells the group she is just starting on a book about butterflies for kids just their age. She asks them to help her by telling her what they think is important to know about butterflies. Suddenly, in the middle of taking questions Helen gets a phone call where she appears frazzled. When she hangs up she explains that her editor has just called and the copy of her book is due TODAY. She is really overwhelmed and has the pictures she’ll be using in her book, but they aren’t in order and she doesn’t have her notes with her so she doesn’t know what is happening in any of them. She explains she needs to have a caption, a description under each picture, which explains what is happening in the picture. Helen tells the class she is going to need their help. Have them break into 4 groups and each group is given one of the four pictures to write what should go under the picture.
She reviews what they will need to do in their small group to accomplish their task. 1) Look at picture
2) Decide what is happening
3) Write a one sentence describing what is happening in the picture (e.g., the main idea) 
Helen has the students work to write what should appear as the caption for each picture. They come back together as a class and share.  Then Helen asks them to work together to figure out the order for the pictures as she’s not sure. Once the pictures are captioned and ordered for the book (pictures should be ordered as an on-going cycle so that every groups captions are in an on-going format) Helen thanks the class for helping her with the book and removes her hat transitioning back to the teacher.

  • What did you do with Helen?  Why?
  • I noticed that you put the pictures in order, why did you sequence them the way you did?
  • What other cycles, things that repeat over and over again, do we see in nature?