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Butterfly Life Cycle (With Video)

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Biology Volunteer Activities
Main Image
Biology Volunteer Activities
Activity Language
Time Needed for Activity

Students build a life cycle of a butterfly and then watch a 10 minute clip from the Carleton University Butterfly Show.

What You Need

Materials if delivered to the school:

Materials should be made in individual paper envelopes so each student gets one envelope with all the materials.

  • 1 green shiny cardstock leaf and 1 shiny stickers attached to a backing (eggs)
  • 2 pieces of pipe cleaner (about 1/3 of a pipe cleaner each)
  • 1 paper shaped pupae (made from a coffee filter paper or tissue paper) and 1 piece of a toothpick (about 1/2 a toothpick with the sharp end cut off)
  • 1 shiny cardstock paper butterfly
  • 1 paper plate that isn't waxed (e.g., a crayon writes easily on the plate)
  • Glue stick

Materials at home:

  • 1 small piece of green paper or a green crayon/marker
  • 2 pieces of pipe cleaner or something to make a caterpillar shape and fuzzy or coloured crayons or markers to draw
  • 1 piece of Kleenex or even clean toilet paper to make a shape of pupae/chrysallis. Or they can use a piece of cotton ball or pompom
  • 1 small piece of stick from outside or craft stick or they can just draw a stick
  • 1 coloured paper or white paper they can colour and draw the shape of a butterfly
  • 1 paper plate or just a piece of paper to glue it all on
  • Glue stick


Video clip:

Safety Notes

As a Let’s Talk Science volunteer, safety must be foremost in our minds during all activities. As STEM role models, volunteers must always also model safe science practices.

Always keep in mind the following precautions:

  • Emphasize and demonstrate appropriate safety procedures throughout the presentation.
  • Be professional but have fun.
  • Keep workspaces clean to avoid tripping hazards.
  • Allergens should have been checked before reserving the kit (e.g. allergies to latex).

What To Do

Ask the teacher to pass out one envelope of materials for each student and if we didn’t include glue, ask the students to take our their glue. If they are learning from home, ask them to gather their materials in front of them if they haven’t already, and modify the instructions for those who might be drawing instead of using materials as needed.

Open your envelope and take out the paper plate, the small paper envelope, and the pencil crayon. Open the small envelope and take out the materials carefully

  1. Using the pencil crayon draw a line down the middle of the paper plate (see the photo at the beginning of this lesson). Then turn the plate and draw another line down the middle so you have 4 sections on your plate.
  2. Take the leaf, put glue on the back, and stick it onto the plate in one of the sections.
  3. Take one or both of the shiny stickers (these are the eggs) and pull them off the plastic backing and stick them on top of your leaf (some butterflies lay eggs on the top of leaves and some underneath the leaf).
  4. Next we need a caterpillar. Take the two pipe cleaners and twist them together, however you want to make it look a bit like a fuzzy caterpillar. Not all caterpillars look fuzzy.
  5. Glue your fuzzy caterpillar to the section beside the one where you have your leaf.
  6. Next we have the pupae. A pupae often hangs on a twig so you need to take the piece of stick and glue it in the next section on your plate. Then glue one end of the white piece of paper to the stick.
  7. The last stage is the adult butterfly. Take your glitter butterfly and paste it in the last section on your plate.