Caterpillar to Butterfly – Toddler/Preschool Unit


One of my most favorite songs in the entire universe is named, “Butterfly” by Lenny Kravitz. As I write up this post, I listen to the beautiful melody and lyrics. My muse. I highly recommend firing that song up while reading this post and thinking about your butterflies. Please keep in mind that my child is 25 months so these lessons are geared at preschoolers, 2-4 years old.


Caterpillar to Butterfly

Before I do any of activities outlined below, I am going to take one of the coloring pages (see below) and sit with my son as he colors away. As he is coloring the image of the butterfly, I am going to talk about the life cycle and give him a sense of our journey over the next week or so.

Sensory – We’re using homemade play dough to attempt to create the life cycle of a butterfly. I am using TeacherTube video on butterflies as inspiration and our guide.

Art – We’re going to start with coloring. I found some wonderful FREE coloring pages online.

Math  – There are four stages to metamorphosis so that is what we’ll focus on – matching the numbers to the stage using Melissa & Doug magnet numbers. Along with these great life cycle stamps for sequencing. Check out this FREE printout of the stages from The Children’s Butterfly Site. In addition, it is easy enough to find images of each stage to play a simple matching the image game. We’ll also be using this nifty hands on Butterfly Lifecycle set.

Using a print out of the life cycle as a guide, you and your child can match the four stages. We matched the individual stage coloring pages to our life cycle stamps, our life cycle set and the number 1 through 4 to represent each stage.


Visual Discrimination and Hand/Eye Coordination – Puzzles are a great tool for children to work on pattern recognition and hand/eye coordination. Michael Olaf wrote up a great piece on this topic. We’re using a beautiful puzzle I found at a local consignment shop. This puzzle has a wonderful image to follow and a blank page of the same image for your child to color. In addition, I found this great little Eeboo butterfly and bugs matching and memory game on Amazon for a good price. We opened it yesterday when it arrived and he was thrilled with it. There are a few different activities you can do with these matching cards so we’ll get our use of of them.

Language & Culture – We’re focused on learning and teaching Mandarin so we’ll review butterfly vocabulary in Mandarin. So we look at pictures, listen to pronunciation and say the words back and forth to one another. Simple for now.

Early Literacy – This section is broken up into new vocabulary words, reading and story telling.

  • Story telling: We’re using a felt board set that I purchased on Etsy for a very reasonable price. You should check out this store. Wonderful creations. Of course, if you are handy enough and have the time, go ahead and create felt pieces on your own!


Practical Life The book mentioned, Fly, Monarch! Fly!, above has a very cute “recipe” for Butterfly Sandwiches so that is what we’ll have for lunch. My son will help me gather the sandwich items, make the sandwich, cut the sandwich and then create the butterfly from carrot sticks, a cherry tomato and celery sticks. I’ll take a photo for you all to see (and cheer me on/pat my back/etc).

Science – Obviously this whole lesson is centered on science. We’ll be doing a lot of hands on activities but also accessing online resources. For example, this site has simple descriptions of each stage of the life cycle. Accompanied by REAL images, this write up is simple enough so that you can talk with your preschooler about the stages and he/she won’t get too lost. This site also has a good and simple write up on the life cycle – no images but the write up does include time stamps, which is very helpful.  This YouTube video shows a time lapse of caterpillar to butterfly, a change the typically takes place in 2-3 weeks, in just under four minutes. I think any person, no matter how young or old, is sure to be captivated by this amazing video.

Physical Activity – We are going to use this adorable lesson I found on The Children’s Butterfly Site that uses Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar. The children act out metamorphosis, which requires a lot of bending and stretching (and flying) as you can imagine. My goal is to integrate yoga into my homeschooling philosophy and curriculum. So, without even realizing it, I believe this educator accomplished that goal. There is a book called Yoga Zoo Adventure that I highly recommend – there are poses for many of the aspects of the butterfly’s life cycle. Go to page 84 for the start of the cycle! Loads of fun!

Field Trip – Lastly, as we have done in the past (the true inspiration to this lesson), we will take an excursion to our local science center. We are so fortunate here in Seattle to have the Pacific Science Center and the Tropical Butterfly House. Adults are as in love with this permanent exhibit as are the children. Butterflies fly around you, land on your head, arms, back, etc and there is a display of various species of butterflies at different points of the life cycle. Fascinating is not a strong enough word to describe the wonder of this place. I am in love to say the very least. We are also planning a trip to a local P-Patch to seek out eggs, caterpillars, chrysalis and, if we are lucky, gorgeous butterflies. My son was really into this idea after reading, Fly, Monarch! Fly!

Technology – Currently obsessed with a Lifecycle App I found for the iPad and iPhone.