Thematic Units - Butterfly & Caterpillar

Butterfly & Caterpillar

Key concepts:
Insects: Butterfly and caterpillar

Key Experiences/ Standards of Learning:
Investigate and understand basic needs and life processes of plants and animals. Plants and animals live and die (go through a life cycle) Off springs of plants and animals are similar but not identical to their parents and one another

A. Read "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle. Your students will be introduced to the life cycle of a caterpillar. Review the four stages egg, caterpillar, cocoon, and butterfly. Provide each student with four 3"x 5" index cards, one button, a cotton ball, and a small piece of brown construction paper cut in an oval. Follow the directions below to make cards showing the stages of a caterpillar life in sequence. First card- Draw and color a green leaf. Glue the button on the leaf to represent an egg. Second card- Draw and color some grass. Stretch the cotton ball and glue it on the grass to represent a caterpillar. Third card- Draw and color a brown branch with two green leaves on it. Glue the precut oval shape piece of brown construction paper on the branch to make it look like it is hanging from the branch. This represents a cocoon. Fourth card- Use water-based markers to draw a butterfly. Encourage students to take the sequence cards home and share them with their families. Materials: Four 3"x 5" index cards, one button per child, one cotton ball per child, sixteen precut pieces of brown construction in the shape of an oval.

B. Listen to "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle. Kids make their own "Very Hungry Caterpillar" book by coloring, cutting out and sequencing "caterpillar sequence cards." Materials: The book "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle, crayons, manila paper, scissors, glue, and one caterpillar sequence sheet per child.

C. Kids make a butterfly. Materials: 1 baby doll clothes pin per child, 2 coffee filters per child, various colors of watered down tempera paint and pipe cleaners.

D. Kids create and decorate a caterpillar using various art media.

E. Words to the song "Look, I'm a Butterfly." (TUNE: Pop Goes the Weasel) I spin and spin my chrysalis, ( circle fingers on the palm) Then go to rest inside. ( circle fingers and rest hand on palm) When I come out, I've changed indeed. . . ( open fingers slowly) Look! I'm a butterfly! ( fly fingers away)

F. Children write his/her own version of "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" in the shape of a caterpillar. See included book pattern. Materials: Make one copy of the book cover for each student and make 8 precut pages per child in the shape of the cover for their story, stapler, crayons and pencils.

G. Children measure objects using non-standard units of measures (caterpillar). See "Caterpillar Measuring" worksheet.

H. Children help create a pictorial story map of a caterpillar life cycle. It can be compared to "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" story. Draw pictures, label it and have students describe the cycle.

I. Children match number words to objects on the "Caterpillar Snack Sack" worksheet.

J. Children help make a butterfly insect snack. Materials: loaf of bread, softened cream cheese, carrot or celery sticks, mini- marshmallows, raisins, colorful dry cereal, plastic knives and paper plates. Directions: cut a slice of bread twice diagonally into four triangles. Use two of the triangles for butterfly wings. Spread the bread with softened cream cheese. Arrange the triangle wings on a plate with a small carrot or celery stick body and a mini-marshmallow head. Let youngsters decorate the wings with raisins and colorful dry cereal.

K. How a Butterfly Grows (To the Tune of: Farmer in the Dell)
The butterfly lays her eggs.
The butterfly lays her eggs Hi ho the derrio
The butterfly lays her eggs
The caterpillar hatches out.
The caterpillar eats the leaves
The caterpillar gets sleepy
The caterpillar becomes a chrysalis
The butterfly pops out.
The butterflies flies away.

Enrichment Activities: Point out the word butterfly starts with the letter "B," and the word caterpillar starts with the letter "C." Have the class say each word aloud with you stressing the initial consonant sound. separate the class into two teams, the "butterfly" or "b" team and the "caterpillar" or "c" team to play a vocabulary game. Ask each team to think of other words they know that start with either the b or c sound. Have the first child on the b team start the game by saying a word that begins with the b sound, such as "book." Write the responses on the board. Then ask the first child on the "c" team to answer with a word that beginning with the c sound, such as "cat' and write the answer on the board. Continue until every child has had a turn.

Assessment: Have the learner put picture cards in sequential order and state the four stages a caterpillar goes through.

Evaluation: Record responses on anecdotal cards/folder.

*Carle, Eric. THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR. Philomel Books, 1979.
*DeLuise, Dom. CHARLIE THE CATERPILLAR. Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1990. (33 pages) A caterpillar is rejected by various animals until he becomes a beautiful butterfly. He befriends another unhappy caterpillar.
*Gibbons, Gail. MONARCH BUTTERFLY. Holiday House, 1989. (32 pages) A very colorful book; drawings are "cute" but not completely realistic; describes the life cycle, body parts, and behavior of the Monarch; includes instructions on how to raise a Monarch
*Butterfly-Michael Chinery-Life Story-Troll Associates-1991
*The Big Butterfly Book-Susanne Santaro Whayne-1995-Troll-Book is shaped like a butterfly-colorful and amazing insects.

Additional Activities:
Objective: To improve counting skills and to increase color recognition.

.Green construction paper .crayons .scissors .white paper .tape .musical instrument, such as a cymbal, drum or bells .optional-contact paper

Preparation: Have the older children in the class draw large leaves on green construction paper. Cut them out. (Cover the leaves with contact paper and use them throughout the year.) Draw caterpillars on white paper and color each of them a different color. Cut out the caterpillars and tape each one on a leaf. Make one set for each child. Place the leaves at least 1' apart on the rug.

What to do:
1.Have the children take off their shoes. They start to walk slowly around the leaves. They are the hungry birds looking for caterpillars to eat.
2.While they are walking, the teacher plays an instrument such as a cymbal, drum or bells. When a beat is established, the teacher says "The Hungry Bird" chant! Before I go to sleep, sleep, sleep, I will have to eat, eat, eat. Fat and juicy, jolly good Caterpillars on a leaf!
3.When the chant is over, the teacher slowly counts to a number between one and ten and then claps at the end! After the clap, the children jump on a caterpillar leaf. They found their caterpillar to eat! What color is the caterpillar that you found to eat?
4.Now play the game again but with one less caterpillar leaf on the rug. The child who is left without a leaf after the clap did not find a caterpillar to eat. This hungry bird sits down in a chosen spot, the bird nest!
5.Continue until there is only one hungry bird on a caterpillar leaf This bird ate the most caterpillars! What color is the last caterpillar on the leaf?

More to do: Twirl pipe cleaners around a finger and pull them off. Now they look like caterpillars!

Butterfly WebSites
This is a great site that offers a curriculum package for using Monarch Butterflies in the classroom.
*The Butterfly WebSite
*Butterfly Photos
*Insect Lore Homepage
*Butterflies on the Internet

Coloring Page on Monarch Life Cycle
from "Butterflies East and West, a book to color"
by Paul Opler and Susan Strawn.
Roberts Rinehart Publisher, Boulder, Colorado
Artwork copyright Susan Strawn

Life Cycle
As advanced insects, butterflies and moths have a "complete" life cycle. This means that there are four separate stages, each of which looks completely different and serves a different purpose in the life of the insect.

The egg is a tiny round, oval, or cylindrical object, usually with fine ribs and other microscopic structures. The female attaches the egg to leaves, stems, or other objects, usually on or near the intended caterpillar food.

The caterpillar (or larva) is the long worm-like stage of the butterfly or moth. It often has an interesting pattern of stripes or patches, and may have spine-like hairs. It is the feeding and growth stage. As it grows, it sheds its skin four or more times so as to enclose its rapidly growing body.

The chrysalis (or pupa) is the transformation stage within which the caterpillar tissues are broken down and the adult insect's structures are formed. The chrysalis of most species is brown or green and blends into the background. Many species overwinter in this stage.

The adult (or imago) is the colorful butterfly or moth we usually see. It is the reproductive and mobile stage for the species. The adults undergo courtship, mating, and egg-laying. The adult butterfly or moth is also the stage that migrates or colonizes new habitats. (Note: The adult butterfly pictured here is a Swallowtail, not a Monarch). Click on small image to download full-sized image.

How Can I Raise A Caterpillar?
To raise a caterpillar through the chrysalis or pupa to the adult moth or butterfly is an excellent lesson about insect metamorphosis. All you need is a caterpillar, some of its favored food, and a suitable container. You can find caterpillars on most plants during the spring and early summer. Put the caterpillar and a few fresh leaves in a wide mouth jar or plastic shoebox. Cover the jar mouth with netting or a piece of nylon. Every day change the leaves and provide dry paper towels to help prevent mold. You can put in pencil-size twigs upon which the caterpillar can attach its chrysalis or silken cocoon (with the pupa inside).

The insect will hatch in 10-14 days, if it does not overwinter. Before releasing it you can photograph your prize. Don't be disappointed if small wasps or flies--natural parasites--hatch out instead. These insects keep the butterfly and moth populations under natural control.

Butterflies and Moths Frequently Asked Questions
Questions answered by Dr. Paul Opler, Biological Resources Division, U.S. Geological Survey Questions: Return to Children's Butterfly Page

Q1: What are butterflies and moths?
A1: Butterflies and moths are a group of insects called Lepidoptera. Like all insects, butterflies and moths have a head, thorax, abdomen, two antennae, and six legs. Additionally, moths and butterflies have four wings that are almost always covered by colored scales, and a coiled proboscis for drinking liquids such as flower nectar. Lepidoptera is derived from the Latin "lepido"= scale + "ptera" = wing. Of course there are exceptions; some moths have wingless adults and some primitive moths lack a proboscis.

Q2: How many kinds of butterflies and moths are there?
A2: Butterflies and moths are found on all continents except Antarctica, and scientists estimate that there are approximately 12-15,000 species of butterflies and 150-250,000 species of moths. There are still thousands of moth and butterfly species that have not been found or described by scientists. In the United States and Canada, more than 750 species of butterflies and 11,000 species of moths have been recorded. Many species of moths and a few kinds of butterflies are still being discovered. There is much to be learned.

Q3: What is the difference between butterflies and moths?
A3: Butterflies are mostly brightly colored day-flying insects with long clubbed antennae and most moths fly at night and lack clubs at the end of their antennae. A group of tropical "moths" has been found that are closely related to butterflies but they lack clubs on their antennae; they are now considered to be butterflies. Perhaps the best answer that matches our current knowledge is just to say that butterflies are "fancy moths."

Q4: What is the life cycle of butterflies and moths?
A4: View The Butterfly and Moth Life Cycle Page

Q5: Where can I find butterflies and moths?
A5: Butterflies and moths are found during the warmer months of the year in many different environments. In most places, May to August are the best months, and you will do well looking in sunny exposed places with low plants. Many national parks, wildlife refuges, or other wild places are usually rich in butterfly species. Your local city or county park may have planted a butterfly garden to attract butterflies in the summer or you may want to visit the nearest insect zoo or butterfly house where hundreds of living exotic insects and butterflies are on display.

Q6: How can I catch a butterfly or moth?
A6: The best way to "catch" a butterfly or moth is to raise it from the caterpillar stage. Then when the butterfly or moth hatches out you can observe it and then let it go. Some stores provide kits that have a net with them, and you can go into fields or mountains and catch butterflies or moths. Since most moths are attracted to lights, you can find moths at porch lights (if you use a white bulb--not yellow) or other lights. Keeping a butterfly or moth collection requires that you follow special techniques and lots of care. The best way to learn about insect collections is to join a local 4-H club. Today, many people prefer to watch butterflies and moths with small close-focusing binoculars or to photograph the living insects. Photographing a live butterfly in nature can be more challenging than netting one, and you can keep your "collection" in a photo album or color slide tray.

Q7: Why are butterfly and moth wings so delicate? How are they made?
A7: Butterfly and moth wings are made of thin layers of chitin--the same hardened protein that makes up their outside body--and are covered with thousands of tiny scales that lend color to the wings. The wings are strengthened by a system of veins. The wings have to be strong enough to support the body in the air, but still flexible enough for flight movements.

Q8: Why do some butterfly and moth wings have such brilliant colors?
A8: The colors of butterfly and moth wings may serve several purposes. Colors are often used in courtship, so that male and female butterflies recognize each other as the correct species. Bright colors may also serve to warn birds or other predators that a particular butterfly, such as a Monarch, is bad-tasting. Other butterflies and moths, although perfectly edible, may have colors that "mimic" the bad-tasting species and thereby gain protection for themselves. Finally, certain color patterns may help the butterfly or moth blend into its background and be protected from birds or other would-be predators by "background resemblance."

Q9: Are there endangered butterflies and moths?
A9: There are more than 20 butterflies and moths listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Most of these species are found in the United States and may become extinct due to loss of their habitat. Some butterflies from other countries, such as some rare birdwing butterflies from New Guinea, are endangered by loss of habitat and by collection of specimens for international trade. Several individual states list and protect declining butterflies and moths in their state. Contact your local wildlife or conservation office to find out what you can do to conserve butterflies and moths.

Q10: Where can I find out more about butterflies and moths?
A10: See the "hot list" of butterfly sites.

Q11: How can I raise a caterpillar?
A11: To raise a caterpillar through the chrysalis or pupa to the adult moth or butterfly is an excellent lesson about insect metamorphosis. All you need is a caterpillar, some of its favored food, and a suitable container. You can find caterpillars on most plants during the spring and early summer. Put the caterpillar and a few fresh leaves in a wide mouth jar or plastic shoebox. Cover the jar mouth with netting or a piece of nylon. Every day change the leaves and provide dry paper towels to help prevent mold. You can put in pencil-size twigs upon which the caterpillar can attach its chrysalis or silken cocoon (with the pupa inside). The insect will hatch in 10-14 days, if it does not overwinter. Before releasing it you can photograph your prize. Don't be disappointed if small wasps or flies--natural parasites--hatch out instead. These insects keep the butterfly and moth populations under natural control.

Q12: Where can I buy caterpillars?
A12: If you can't find a caterpillar or need to provide caterpillars for an entire class, there are several places where they may be purchased together with an artificial food source. Monarch caterpillars and rearing instructions may be purchased from Monarch Watch , and Painted Lady caterpillars are available from several commercial sources listed at the "Butterfly Website."

Q13: How do butterflies go to the bathroom?
A13: Adult butterflies do not go to the bathroom. Caterpillars do all of the eating and almost continually defecate. Occasionally adult butterflies drink so much they must emit a fine liquid spray from the tip of their abdomen but it is almost pure water.

Q14: Are butterflies poisonous?
A14: Some butterflies such as the Monarch and Pipevine Swallowtail eat poisonous plants as caterpillars and are poisonous themselves as adult butterflies. Birds learn not to eat them. Other good-tasting butterflies (called "mimics") come to resemble them and thus benefit from this "umbrella" of protection.

Q15: Do caterpillars have teeth?
A15: Caterpillars have opposable toothed mandibles to chew their food. These can be seen with a magnifying glass.

Q16: How does a caterpillar turn into a butterfly?
A16: This is not easy to explain. You can say that inside the chrysalis the caterpillar changes clothes and turns into a butterfly. (An esoteric explanation: Inside the chrysalis the caterpillar structures are broken down chemically and the adult's new structures are formed).

Q17: Do butterflies eat bugs?
A17: As I mentioned the caterpillars do most of the eating. Almost all caterpillars eat plant parts, but a few are carnivorous. Caterpillars of the carnivorous Harvester butterfly of the eastern U.S. eat woolly aphids. The adult female butterfly lays her eggs in the middle of aphid masses.

Q18: Where do butterflies go when it rains?
A18: Butterflies hide when it rains. They usually go to the same places they do for the night. Some butterflies hide under large leaves, some crawl down into dense leaves or under rocks, and some just sit head down on grass stems or bushes with wings held tightly. If the rains are exceptionally hard or of long duration many of the butterflies become tattered or die. Submitted by: APool37253@email-removed

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