This is a fun project for children learning about the caterpillar/butterfly life cycle.  The project can be done over several days, if desired.  For example the caterpillar can be made on one day and the butterfly on another day.  The life cycle is broken down into:

  1. The egg stage
  2. The caterpillar stage
  3. The cocoon stage
  4. The butterfly stage

The child, with the teacher’s help, will make a cutout representing each step.  The child can color the cutouts as desired, and the teacher and child can work together to do the gluing.

The materials required for this project are:

  • Construction paper
  • Crayons
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Tape, or another method for hanging the cutouts on the wall

The teacher should draw the shapes for the child to cut out, or the teacher can cut out the shapes ahead of time.  The shapes needed are:

  • 1 green leaf
  • 1 small circle to represent the egg
  • several green circles about 4″ in diameter to make the caterpillar’s body and head
  • a number of feet equal to the number of circles that will be used for the caterpillar’s body
  • two caterpillar antennae
  • 1 nose for the caterpillar
  • two butterfly wings
  • 1 butterfly bod, including antennae
  • 1 piece of paper to be rolled into a cocoon shape
  • 4 arrows in a contrasting color

Begin with the caterpillar.  Help the child glue the circles together in a line, with each circle overlapping the previous one by about 1/2 an inch.  Help the child glue one foot on the bottom of each circle (except the head), and glue on the antennae and the nose.  Ask the child to draw the eyes and the mouth.

Next, do the butterfly.  Allow the child to color the butterfly’s wings and body as desired, and then help the child glue the wings to the body. While the child is working, shape a cocoon by rolling up another piece of construction paper.

Finally, have the child cut out the leaf and egg shapes.  Help the child draw the leaf veins, and then have the child glue the egg to the leaf.  While the child is working, cut out the four arrow shapes. While the glue is drying, explain the butterfly life cycle to the child.

After the glue has dried, hang the leaf, caterpillar, cocoon, and butterfly on the wall in the order shown above.  Show the child that the four cutouts represent the same steps in the butterfly life cycle that the child has just learned about.  Ask the child to identify the first step in the life cycle, then ask the child which step comes next and allow the child to hang the arrow showing the flow from the first step to the second.

Continue asking the child which step comes next, and allowing the child to hang the remaining arrows appropriately.  Finally, ask the child to explain the entire butterfly life cycle.  Let the child repeat the explanation a few times until he understands it thoroughly, then ask for follow-up explanations a few times over the coming days.

If your child is particularly interested in this subject, you may enjoy expanding on the lesson by using a Live Butterfly Garden to allow your child to observe the actual butterfly life cycle with live butterflies.

Micheal Lee

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