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Lesson Plans
Butterfly Life Cycle


Students will identify and describe the stages of the butterfly life cycle.


Materials Needed
Introduction Introduction

Read The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.

Explain to students that they can see the life cycle of a butterfly in the story. Turn back to the beginning of the book and point to the pictures that show each stage—egg, caterpillar, cocoon and butterfly. Explain to students that a butterfly cocoon is called a chrysalis.

Procedure Procedure

  1. Tell students that they are going to create life cycle wheels to show the stages of a butterfly’s life.
  2. Give each student a Life Cycle Wheel template and have students cut out the two wheels. (You may want to cut out the wheels in advance for younger students.)
  3. Invite students to color the pictures on the first wheel.
  4. Cut out the “window” from the second wheel.
  5. Help students place the second wheel on top of the first wheel. Push a brass fastener through the center of the wheels to secure them together.
  6. Demonstrate how to turn the bottom wheel so that each stage of the life cycle appears in the window.
  7. Read The Very Hungry Caterpillar again and as you get to the part of the book that shows each stage, have students turn their wheel to reveal the correct stage and hold it up.

Independent Practice Independent Practice

  1. Divide students into pairs. Give each student a sequencing strip and a set of Life Cycle Picture Cards.
  2. Have each student cut apart the picture cards and spread them out faceup.
  3. Give each pair of students a Number Spinner, a paper clip and a pencil. Show students how to use the paper clip as the arrow for the spinner: Take the paper clip and slide it onto the pencil. Then hold the pencil upright with the tip in the center of the spinner. Flick the paper clip to make it spin around the pencil.
  4. Have students take turns spinning the paper clip to select a stage of the life cycle (1, 2, 3 or 4). Students choose the picture card for that stage of the life cycle and place it on their sequencing strip. (If a student has already placed the picture card for that stage, the next player takes a turn.)
  5. The first student to sequence all four stages is the winner!

Extension Activity

Extension Activity

Set up a butterfly nursery in your classroom to let students observe the butterfly life cycle in action! See our Butterfly Nursery to help you get started. Invite students to help you make a daily class log to track the butterflies’ growth.

the preschool–kindergarten lesson plan. (Includes all printable materials.)




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