Butterfly Life Cycle Lesson Plan for K-2 Students

The following is a lesson plan devised for elementary school teachers of K-2 science to learn the butterfly life cycle with a hands-on approach.

Targeted Materials: For this lesson, the following materials are essential: index cards, glue sticks, crayons, pencils, erasers and blank white paper worksheets.

Science Word Wall: When doing this unit, the classroom word wall should consist of the following words:
“egg,” “larva,” “pupa”, “adult” and “butterfly.”

Teaching point: Good first grade scientists explore the four stages of an insect’s life cycle using different kinds of pasta (teaching point).

Teach: Today, class, I am going to teach you the four stages of the life cycle of an insect. The insect we will be working with today is a butterfly. Later on, we will put the life cycle together, using different kinds of pasta (teaching point). Watch me as I show you…

Demonstration: There are four stages in the life cycle of a butterfly. All insects, in our case butterflies, come from eggs. [Show index card with the word “egg”]. Now class we are going to clap, snap and pat the word “egg.” Egg is the first step of a butterfly’s life cycle. The second step of an insect’s life cycle is a “larva.” [Show index card with the word larva]. Say it with me class, “larva.” Now we are going to clap, snap and pat the word “larva.” The larva is the caterpillar. The third step of the insect’s life cycle is the “pupa.” [Show index card with the word pupa]. Now we are going to clap, snap and pat the word “pupa.” Pupa is when the caterpillar goes into a shell and stays there for a few weeks until she’ll become a butterfly. The fourth and final step of a butterfly’s life cycle is the “adult” butterfly. [Show index card with the word adult]. Now we are going to clap, snap and pat the word “adult.”

(Students try it).

Very good class, you did a great job, clapping, snapping and patting the four stages of an insect’s life cycle that we learned. We are now going to add these words to our Science Word Wall.

(Teacher adds words [egg, larva, pupa, adult, butterfly] to the Science Word Wall for students to enhance their familiarity with these new vocabulary words). These four stages of the butterfly life cycle [egg, larva, pupa, adult] hold true for all insects!

Active Engagement: Now class it is your turn to try it… We will create our own insect life cycle using different kinds of pasta. You will each get a paper with the life cycle of a butterfly. First use your pencils to copy down the words underneath each stage of the life cycle. Fill in the missing letters for the four stages. Second, you will use your crayons to color the pictures of the four stages. Then, we will use four different kinds of pasta to glue underneath each stage of the butterfly’s life cycle: pastina/small pasta for the “egg”, spiral pasta for the larva or caterpillar, shell pasta for the “pupa” and lastly, a bowtie pasta for the “adult” butterfly.

[The teacher will walk around to see how the students are doing and assist where needed].

(Students try it).

Teacher says: Very good class. You all did phenomenal work. You are on your way to becoming the next Ms. Frizzell [from the Magic School Bus] or the next “Bill Nye the Science Guy.” Bravo!

Link: Class, today and everyday, remember that there are four stages in an insect’s life cycle. These include: egg, larva, pupa and adult. To not forget these four stages, always look back on the pasta that you glued to each butterfly life cycle photo. (teaching point revisited)