- Visit a butterfly conservatory. This provides children with the opportunity to see real butterflies. If there is not a conservatory in your area, take a virtual field trip to an online butterfly garden.
- Purchase a butterfly life cycle kit. This allows children to witness the life cycle firsthand, then release the butterflies into the outdoors.
- Incorporate art into your teaching. Have children use watercolor paints to create their own butterflies. You may be able to pair their learning with lessons on symmetry, as they create their butterfly’s wings.
- Use a map or globe to help children learn the migration patterns of butterflies
Butterflies move through five stages before they become the beautiful, colorful, flying creatures we know. They begin as a tiny egg. The eggs are off-white and shaped like ovals. Some are smooth and some are bumpy. The female butterfly lays her eggs on leaves or stems. Inside the egg, a larva, or caterpillar, begins to grow.
Depending on the type of butterfly, some eggs hatch in a few weeks, and some hatch once the weather is warm. Before they hatch, one end of the egg becomes darker. When it’s time, the caterpillars eat their way out of the eggs! Then they start snacking on the leaves of the plant. They are very hungry creatures! Along with lots of eating, the caterpillars also do lots of growing. They shed their skin as they grow and it becomes too tight. Once the caterpillars are fully grown, they can be up to 100 times bigger than when they first left their eggs!
Once they are fully grown, the caterpillars change into pupas, which are also called “chrysalis.” During this stage, the caterpillars stay in a safe spot, like on the leaves of the plant. They stop eating and a hard case, that protects the caterpillars, grows around each of their bodies. Inside the case, the pupas are growing body parts like legs, wings, and eyes. This growing stage can take weeks or even months.
Once the growing stage is complete, the hard cases around the pupas split open. The butterflies’ wings have to dry and become big and strong. Once they take off, the butterflies have reached the last stage of their life cycle. The adult butterflies spend their time searching for food and other butterflies. The butterfly’s life cycle is known as “metamorphosis.”