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Caterpillar to Butterfly

Children are enchanted by butterflies and caterpillars. What a great topic for them to study to learn more about the wonders of the natural world.

Language & Literacy



The Crunching Munching Caterpillar (Tiger Tales)  

The Life Cycles of Butterflies: From Egg to Maturity, a Visual Guide to 23 Common Garden Butterflies 

The Butterfly Book: A Kid's Guide to Attracting, Raising, and Keeping Butterflies  

Monarch Butterfly


Read Waiting for Wings by Lois Elhert, have the children recreate Lois Elherts fabulous paper collage techniques to make their own pictures of butterflies and caterpillars. Have them dictate a story to you about what their caterpillar would do while it was waiting for wings.



Read the poem Caterpillar and let the kids do actions. 

LiteracyUse the poem in a pocket chart and have the kids predict the rhyming words that will fill in the last word of each stanza. *Older kids maybe able to put the words creeping, crawl, climbing, in also, maybe with picture prompts on the word cards to help them.


Read the poem Color Butterflies give each child a different colored butterfly you have cut from felt.  Tell them to hold up their butterfly when it is mentioned and then place it on the felt board.  After the poem is over count how many butterflies are on the felt board.

Songs, Poems, & Fingerplays

Caterpillar creeping,
Caterpillar crawl.
Caterpillar climbing
All along the wall.

Caterpillar spinning,
Caterpillar snug.
Caterpillar changing,
What have you become?
   by Beverly Qualheim

Color Butterflies
The first to come to the garden bed
Is a lovely butterfly of brilliant red.

Then in comes another and that makes two,
Fly right in, my friend of blue.

"The garden is fine, the best I've seen,"
Says the butterfly of spring time green.

Our garden needs a sunshiny fellow,
Fly in, butterfly with wings of yellow.
Little friend of purple, fly in too,
This garden is waiting for a color like you.

Orange, orange you've waited so long,
Fly right in where you belong.

Butterflies, butterflies you're such a sight,
Flying in together-a springtime delight!
         by Susan M. Paprock


Math & Number Concepts

Butterfly Counting Hunt: Each child gets a butterfly net or a bug jar and everyone goes around the room looking for butterflies.  (Ahead of time hide butterfly pictures or plastic butterflies all over the room)  The kids can count how many bugs they have found. *For older kids turn it into an alphabet activity by programming paper butterflies with the letters of the alphabet, then challenge the kids to find the entire butterfly alphabet.

Butterfly Match-Up: Played like concentration for the older kids or lay them all face up for younger kids.  Purchase or make cards.  To make cards draw or use stickers to make matching cards.  Laminate or cover with contact paper to make them last longer.

Butterfly Patterns
Use the butterfly cards from Butterfly match up and make different patterns for the kids to finish.  For example line up a purple butterfly a red butterfly a purple butterfly and ask the kids to pick what butterfly would come next.  Other patterns could be by size or other features depending on the kind of butterfly pictures used.*** The book We Learn About Spring  has a patterning worksheet in it.



Tissue Paper Butterfly
Supplies:  (for each butterfly) three rectangle pieces of tissue paper each one a little smaller then the first (to get a layered look).  A fuzzy pipe cleaner, two wiggly eyes, and glue.
Directions:  Place tissue papers one on top of the other starting with the largest, then med., then smallest.  Pinch the center together and bend a pipe cleaner around it to make a butterfly body.  Glue the wiggly eyes on toward the top of the butterfly body. (you could attach a piece of fishing line to hang it from or maybe put a magnet on it)

Egg Carton Caterpillars
Supplies:  Egg cartons, paint/paint brushes, wiggly eyes, pipe cleaners, glue, and scissors.
Directions:  Ask kids how many sections their caterpillar should have three or four.  Let them help you count out the sections and cut their caterpillar out of the egg carton.  Let the kids paint their caterpillar how ever they would wish.  When they are dry help them glue eyes on and poke holes through the egg carton to add legs and antennae with pipe cleaners.

Collage Butterflies
Supplies:  Tissue paper scraps in all kinds of colors, a butterfly outline drawn on tag board, and glue.
Directions:  Have kids glue tissue paper all over the butterfly them the pictures in Eric Carle's book The Very Hungry Caterpillar and talk about how he makes his pictures with tissue paper.

Find more info on his website:

Paint Blob Butterflies
Supplies:  Different colored paints.  An outline drawing of a butterfly on a large white piece of paper.
Directions:  Have kids blob paint on only one side of the butterfly.  Then fold the picture in half and squish down.  Open it up to see a lovely butterfly that looks the same on each wing.  (opt. have kids cut out their butterflies after they dry or precut them before they paint)  Hint:  don't let the kids blob too much paint on or it will take forever to dry.

Craft:  Butterfly Pins 
Supplies:  Craft foam in different colors, stick back pins, craft/tacky glue, wiggly eyes, wicky sticks, and a scissors.
Directions:  Cut butterfly shapes out of the craft foam and various small sized pieces that will go on the wings.  Kids can glue the little pieces of foam on to their butterfly shapes to decorate the wings and then glue on eyes and wikki stick antennae, when the glue is dry the kids can stick a sticky back pin onto their butterfly.

 Wikki Stix SIX Pack! 288 Stix 3pk Neon 3pk Primary


Dramatic Play

Set up an Entomology Lab! 

Entomologists are the scientists that study bugs. Set up an area with books, lab coats magnifiers, microscopes, child safe tweezers, bug containers, note books, etc. For the kids to pretend they are studying the butterflies. You can find all kinds of plastic bugs and butterflies at...


Click the link to go there and shop! Type "butterfly" in the search box! Your purchases help support this site! Thanks!




Music & Movement

Butterfly Dance:

Play some bouncy classical music and have the children dance to it with streamers. Encourage them to move as if they were butterflies bouncing from flower to flower.

*We also had the children create construction paper butterflies that they painted with foam paint. We them attached them to wooden dowels. Then we would have half the kids wear flower headbands we had found at a party supply store and the other kids would dance with the butterflies and carefully land them on their flower friends head as if they were landing to drink some nectar. The kids loved to do this musical activity!


Science & Discovery

Show the kids some of the butterflies common to your area.  You can contact your local DNR for this information and sometimes they may have pictures or other items to send to you.  Ask the kids which butterflies they have seen.  Ask them what butterflies eat, how?  (Nectar, straw like mouth)  Why don't birds eat butterflies?  ( they taste bad!)

  The Magic School Bus - Butterflies!

Set out life cycle figures for students to explore-

Life Cycle Stages - Butterfly


Show kids pictures of the caterpillar life cycle.  Let them take turns putting the pictures in order.  Check out the web site... 

...coloring pages to download and loads of info on butterflies

Literacy: Butterfly Life Cycle Chart
Supplies:  Pictures of the 4 life cycles of a butterfly, egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, and butterfly. Markers, glue and scissors you will need also.
Directions:  Children can color and cut out the stages of a butterfly and paste them in order on a poster.  Then label each picture with the appropriate stage.  Another option would be to make a book with the pictures.


Blocks & Building

Put a Butterfly House in the block and building area with some plastic butterfly toys, see what kind of houses the children create for them!

Puzzles, Games & Manipulatives

Hasbro Elefun

Butterflies Floor Puzzle

Beleduc Wooden 5-Layer Wooden Puzzle, Butterfly Life-Cycle Puzzle



Visit the website...

They have tons of resources on insects and they sell live caterpillars and other insects for classrooms!

A great resource!!!!!!!!!!!!!



Butterfly Sugar Cookies
Let kids decorate them with different colored frosting!

Caterpillar Food... let kids sample some of the foods the caterpillar ate in
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.

Butterfly Toast
Cut toast out in the shape of a butterfly (use a butterfly cookie cutter) and let kids spread jelly on it or paint it with milk colored with food coloring before it is toasted. This makes vibrant colors on the bread that look great after toasting, and it is completely edible!


Bulletin Boards

Soaring to New Heights! 

Have the children paint their hands using all kind of colors of tempera or finger paint. Then have them press their handprints down one at a time with their finger spread out with the palms touching in the middle to resemble the wings of a butterfly. Cut around them and hang them on the Bulletin Board under the title, "Soaring to New Heights at Preschool !" (or use your program name)


Other Resources

Oriental Trader has all kinds of Butterfly Novelties to use with your butterfly/caterpillar theme, from craft supplies, to plastic caterpillars to use as counters, to butterfly decorations you can use around the classroom. They even have life cycle kit. 



find great toys to make your butterfly theme

 so much fun kids wont know

 they are learning!

Magic Cabin

Your purchases help support this site! Thanks!



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