"In this classroom, relationships are fostered, families are respected, and children are honored.
In this classroom, nature's gifts are valued and children's thoughts are captured.
In this classroom, learning is alive and aesthetic beauty is appreciated." -Unknown

Monday, April 1, 2013

Butterflies...Hands-on Activities to Enhance Learning

We have been studying insects the entire month of March. The first week was insects in general. Our second week study was on ladybugs. You can check it out here: Ladybugs!! Keepin' It Real... The third week was dedicated to learning all about butterflies and we have lots to share. We used a variety of resources, but our main source of ideas and inspiration was the GEMS: Hide a Butterfly guide. You can click below to learn more about it. 

GEMS: Hide a Butterfly
We set up our science area for insects, but our main emphasis, as you can see below, was on butterflies. We used a life cycle poster, butterflies variety poster, field guide, books, shadowboxes with real preserved butterflies, and more.

 We try to begin a study by asking the kiddos what they think they already know about the topic. We don't correct anything that is incorrect at this point. Generally, throughout the study, the kiddos will decide to change previous statements as they learn new things. 

I found this cool butterfly matching cards
on www.prekinders.com. I printed the cards
out, matted them, then laminated them. I
placed the field guide out to extend the
activity, if they chose to do so.

We provide multiple pairs of butterfly wings for the children to wear and one friend brought her own pair and then proceeded to share them with the other kiddos. 

We had a dot-to-dot that resulted in a butterfly if the children followed the numbers in order. I created a number line from 1 to 14, just like the dot-to-dot, to assist with the process. 

We talked about how the butterflies unfurl their proboscis to drink the nectar out of the flowers. I found some party blowers at a store and brought them in so each child could role-play the action. The kiddos LOVED this!

The GEMS: Hide a Butterfly incorporates several activities that the children create items to make a mural that comes together at the end of the study. 
It began with creating a flower. Each child
cut their leaf out and then snipped to make
their grass.

They then created a butterfly in the same color
as the flower they had done. We discussed
symmetry and how the designs on each wing
needed to match. 
This was a really cute activity called "What Comes
Next?" Each child was given the four images. They
were encouraged to place them in order and then
were given the opportunity to glue them down on
the paper.

We did a variety of re-tellings of The Very Hungry 
Caterpillar; first with the book itself...

 then with the card stock cutouts and puppets...

then the flannel board re-telling...

then the kiddos got to re-tell the story themselves.

One friend even drew her own rendition
of the story and made it into a book
format then volunteered to tell the
story to me. Click on the link below
to hear her tell the story.
*Note: I love Eric Carle,
but we all know that the caterpillar in
his story turned into a butterfly. I'm
not sure why he called the pupa stage
a cocoon, so we discussed it and decided
we would call it a chrysalis instead.
My Little Friend's Butterfly Story
We sorted out the parts of the life cycle:
egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, butterfly and 
then had a place for a leaf and a flower.

We had been given some foam butterfly shapes.
We put out a variety of foam colors and encouraged
them to cut out shapes and other pieces to add to
their butterfly. Note the cool antennae one friend
added to her creation. 

We created butterfly life cycle bracelets. We had
a white bead for the egg, a red bead and three green
beads for the caterpillar, a shiny bead for the
chrysalis, and a butterfly bead for the butterfly.
They turned out so cool!! It was great fine motor
practice and each child could relay the life cycle
to the parents by looking at their bracelet.

When all the props were complete we were able
to use the mural to act out a drama. The kiddos
saw how the butterfly that landed on the flower
of the same color was camouflaged better from 
the birds, even more so when they would close 
their wings. How they were more obvious to the
birds if they landed on a flower of a different color
and how easily the bird could snatch them up.

After we completed our week long study, we
did another chart of what we had learned.

When all was said and done, I put all
of the creations from the week up on the
wall completing our mural.

We had so much fun!!


  1. Such wonderful ideas for learning about butterflies. Pinning now! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks, Katie! I love finding new and exciting ideas and hope to inspire others in the same way.

  2. Thanks for such an amount of encouraging and inspiring ideas!! I'm pinning it, too!!

    1. Thanks, Cris! It was an extremely eventful week, but a very fun one. The kiddos really got the concepts and walked away with so much knowledge and some great memories or their experiences.

  3. Thanks for sharing this. I'm just starting a unit on butterflies with my LO next week. Perfect timing!

    1. That's awesome, Jessica. Also, check out my Preschool Nature Inspirations Pinterest board http://pinterest.com/babsfaves/preschool-nature-inspirations/ I just pinned more butterfly stuff. Also, I STRONGLY recommend the documentary Microcosmos. You can find it on Netflix or purchase it from Amazon. It's a French documentary (little talking) using high-powered microphones and zoom lenses taking up-close video of insects. You can actually see a butterfly emerge from it's chrysalis and wait for it's wings to dry and you can see another one unfurl it's proboscis and sip nectar from flowers. SO AMAZING!! I'd love to hear how your unit goes and see photos, etc. You could post them to my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/For-the-Children/170943436350531?ref=hl

  4. What a great unit. And so much fun. The learning outcomes - awesome.
    Following you at Earth DAy Activities.
    Janis Cox Author of Tadeo Turtle (comes with a free 24 page curriculum).

    1. Thanks so much, Janis. We had so much fun. The whole month of March has been dedicated to insects. The first week was learning about them in general, then a week of ladybugs, a week of butterflies, and ended with a week of bees. The bee post will be coming soon. Stay tuned...

  5. Oh my goodness! So many butterfly ideas! I can't wait to try some of these with my girls, we've been seeing our first butterflies out in the yard now that it's warming up outside

    1. Thanks, Aleacia! Hope you can find some of them to use. It's always fun to find or order caterpillars and watch the metamorphosis. We got our caterpillars last Monday and the kids come back on this Tuesday, so they'll get to see the changes. Always so much fun!

  6. What an awesome collection of butterfly activities. The unfurling proboscis party blowers are fabulous - so clever! Thank you so much for linking to Keeping it Real: A Nonfiction Reading Adventure :)

    1. Thanks, Melissa. I know for me if I can put my hands on it and experience it, I get it. Kids are the same way, so when I was trying to figure out how to help them understand how butterflies feed, the party blowers just seemed to make sense. They loved it!

  7. I love how creative you are with teaching the kids about butterflies! Thanks for linking this post up at Fabulously Frugal Thursday.

    1. Thanks, Barb. I try to make as engaging and hands-on as possible. I really believe if they can experience it, the knowledge will stick.

  8. Thanks so much for popping by Go Explore Nature and making an introduction. Can't wait to take a look around here! :-)

    1. You're welcome, Debi. I love what I'm seeing there. Welcome to our little world. Be sure to check out our Facebook page as well: https://www.facebook.com/pages/For-the-Children/170943436350531?ref=hl

  9. What a great unit! I love that you had wings for all the kids to play with. Thanks for linking up with Tender Moments.

    Becky Marie @ www.forthisseason.com

    1. Thanks, Becky. I actually have about 6 pairs of wings and 20 kids, but they are really good about taking turns with them. Thanks for providing a forum for sharing!

  10. This is a wonderful collection of butterfly ideas. My kids would LOVE flying around like butterflies with their wings and ribbons. This week’s theme for the Discover and Explore linky is butterflies. I’d love for you to come share this post if you are interested.


    1. Thanks, Shaunna! I flew right over and posted. What a fun idea to have a themed blog post for each week. I also grabbed a button.

    2. Thanks so much for linking up! This post is full of so many great ideas. I'm sure I'll be stopping back in to use more of them with my daughters over the years!

      Can't wait to see what you link up next week for our Earth Day theme.

    3. That's so sweet, Shaunna. Thanks!!

  11. What great ideas and resources!! I will definitely be using some of these for the butterfly party we are planning this summer. Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!

    1. You're most welcome, Carrie. Glad you found some inspiration!

  12. What a fun unit of work. I've featured this on The Sunday Showcase: http://www.herecomethegirlsblog.com/2013/04/13/the-sunday-showcase-life-cycles.html

  13. I love these butterfly activities. I would like to invite you to link up this post to my Money Saving Monday Link Up. I would love to see your post posted there!

    Thank You,

    1. Thanks, Stephanie. I just visited your page and linked up my last 4 posts to it: butterflies; ladybugs; bees; and Worms, Snails and Slugs, Oh My!!.

  14. Thank you for linking up on Money Saving Monday this Week! I just wanted to let you know that the new link up is LIVE! Please link up another great post this week! Thank you,



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