Each spring, my class studies butterfly metamorphosis. Students look forward to learning more about how caterpillars "change" into butterflies. This year, we began our study months ago when we learned about animals and insects. We knew that insects have six legs and some can fly. But we wondered about what really happens inside the butterfly chrysalis. Was the caterpillar changing or switching body parts to look like a butterfly?

 After reading several books and viewing some interesting videos and websites about butterflies, our larvae arrived by mail around Memorial Day. We kept a log to record their growth and how they seemed to change. We measured the caterpillars with a centimeter ruler. Two of them never got to the top of the jar before the chrysalis started to show. We wondered if they would be able to complete the metamorphosis without hanging. They made it just fine! All 5 of our larvae became pretty butterflies!

    butterfly larvae

This is a picture of the first two to emerge. We loved watching them fly away when we opened the cage outside. One butterfly landed on Bridget's sleeve for a little while!

project objectives

Most of my students chose to make a model with paper scraps.

Tyler's Picture

child's drawing butterfly cycle

Matthew's Picture

child's drawing butterfly cycle

Maddy drew a picture:

child's drawing life butterfly life cycle

All of the children chose to do a creative writing piece after reading Aileen Fisher�s poem, Butterfly Wings (listed in resources). They all imagined a pretend butterfly traveling somewhere. A few acted this out as part of our prewriting brainstorm. This was lots of fun! Butterflies were colored with crayons and scanned to use on computer. Then they planned their writing using folded paper (4 square style). A graphic organizer made with Kidspiration showing butterfly senses was printed and given to each student as a resource to use with their writing:

butterfly senses writing diagram

All of the students inserted their scanned illustration into a Power Point slide. We used MaxShow from Scholastic Keys and added a title using Word Art. Some students also made illustrations in PAINT and added those images to their slides too. The teacher typed in story text (we were in a rush to finish before school ended!). MaxShow has a talking interface that reads the text on a page. This was helpful for students who needed this extra support while reading their classmates� pages. Others turned it on just because they thought it was fun to watch a parrot read the pages!

Take a look at some of our PowerPoint slides.

All of the other written work done by the class (including a whole class diamante poem) can be viewed on our website:

Butterfly Wings

Their finished writing also was printed and displayed in the hallway to share with our school community. A final assessment was done with each student using a Kidspiration template. Once again, the talking interface was available. This is a very simple drag and drop activity that shows how alternative assessment can be done on the computer. I�m excited to utilize this kind of assessment with other topics throughout our curriculum.

Kidspiration Life Cycle Diagram


Click HERE to download this Kidspiration file.



I Wish I Were A Butterfly by James Howe

Where Butterflies Grow  by Joanne Ryder

Where Does the Butterfly Go When It Rains? by May Garelick

I'm A Caterpillar by Jean Marzollo



Butterfly Wings
How would it be
on a day in June
to open your eyes
in a dark cocoon,

And soften one end
and crawl outside,
and find you had wings
to open wide,
And find you could fly
to a bush or tree
or float on the air
like a boat at sea . . .
How would it BE?
�Aileen Fisher


     Magic School bus - Butterflies

     Eye Witness - Butterflies & Moths


* Victoria Butterfly Gardens  


This website had the answer to our question: How does a caterpillar turn into a butterfly? This is not easy to explain. One could say that inside the chrysalis the caterpillar changes clothes and turns into a butterfly. Actually, what happens is that the caterpillar structures are broken down chemically and the adult�s new structures are formed. To be more blunt, the solids of the caterpillar completely liquify and then form the new solid structures of the butterfly.

* Butterflies in NJ



 * A Dance With the Butterflies - Curriculum Materials




�  Susan Silverman and Sarah McPherson 2006