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Students will be able to identify the characteristic of butterflies by completing a book.

Big Idea

The students have been learning about the characteristics of insects. Now it is time to focus that learning and better understand the unique qualities of butterflies. Students will familiarize themselves with many of the butterfly's structures and their

Materials and Prep

15 minutes

Materials Needed:

  • Butterflies Book included as a PDF with this lesson.  The master makes two books.  Use the double, side-staple option on the copy machine and then cut the book in half.
  • pencil
  • scissors
  • glue
  • crayons


5 minutes

To begin this lesson, we review some of the characteristics of insects by singing the Insect Song by Dr. Jean (Head, Thorax, Abdomen).  It is set to the tune of Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.  If you do not have this song, here is a link to it on Youtube.

Direct Instruction

15 minutes

For this portion of the lesson, I use my SMART Board.  If you have a SMART Board, the Butterflies notebook file can easily be downloaded and opened.  If you have a different type of interactive whiteboard, you can still use this lesson by opening the file in Smart Notebook Express.  Click here to download. There is also a pdf of the slides so you can recreate this part of the lesson:  Butterflies PDF of Notebook File.pdf

You will note that I use the terms, structure and function with the students.  I include this vocabulary to meet a NGSS cross-cutting standard.  Students will be exposed to this terminology.

I gather my students in front of the SMART Board.  I have cards with each student's name on.  These cards are used for selecting who will come up to the Smartboard.

I open the first slide (SMART Board Slide 1) with the lesson objective written in "student friendly" terms.  There is a content objective and a language objective to help focus on vocabulary expansion for my English Learners (ELs) to be congruent with SIOP instructional techniques.  I read these objectives aloud for my students.

Content Objective
I can identify the parts of a butterfly.  I can identify the stages in the butterfly life cycle.

Language Objective
I can describe for a friend the lifecycle of a butterfly.

We then move on to slide 2.

Slide 2:  This is a butterfly.

Slide 3:  A butterfly's wings are covered with tiny scales.  We talk about how the scales cannot be seen, except under a microscope and how touching the scales can damage the butterflies wings.  We discuss the proper way of picking up a butterfly (wait until wing are closed and gently grasp outside of wings).

Slide 4: The parts of a butterfly.  I point out the upper wings. 

Slide 5:  I point out the lower wings. 

Slide 6:  I point out the body.  

Slide 7:  I point out the antennae  

Slide 8:  There are many different kinds of butterflies.  What colors do you see?  I invite the students to identify the different colors that they see.

Slide 9:  Butterflies do not always look like this.  They go through many changes called metamorphosis.

Slide 10:  This is a butterfly egg.  It is very tiny.  They will ?usually be stuck to leaves or twigs.
It is about the size of a grain of rice.

Slide 11:  The egg breaks open, out comes butterfly larvae or young caterpillar.  For its first meal, it will eat the egg shell.

Slide 13:  The young caterpillar is an eating machine.  It will eat several times its weight every day.

Slide 14:  The caterpillar's skin does not grow. So the skin splits and out crawls the caterpillar with new skin underneath.  This will happen several times.

Slide 15:  The last time the skin splits, there is a chrysalis or pupa underneath.

Slide 16:  Inside the chrysalis the caterpillar is changing.

Slide 17:  Inside the chrysalis the caterpillar is changing.  When the change is complete, the chrysalis becomes dark.

Slide 18:  The butterfly emerges from the chrysalis.

Slide 19:  It will hang upside down until its wings dry.  It is now an adult butterfly and soon it will be able to lay eggs and start the life cycle over again.

Slide 20:  The life cycle of the butterfly.

Slide 21:  Can you complete the life cycle of the Painted Lady?

Slide 15:  It is now time for Turn and Talk.  I use Turn and Talk to build and strengthen the vocabulary and expressive language of all my kindergarten students.  Each student has an assigned partner.  I ask them to raise hands with their partner so I know everyone is partnered up.  After they raise their hands, I pose the question to them:  What makes a butterfly an insect?  I give them time to talk and when everyone has had a time to share, I ask a volunteer to share his or her response before the class.  I emphasize the characteristics of insects that were highlighted in the response and ask the students to add any that were not identified.

We then move back to our seats for Independent Practice.

Independent Practice

15 minutes

I distribute the book to the students and say to them, Now it is time for you to show me what you know about butterflies.  You are going to read the sentences on each page and use your sound-spelling to fill in the correct answer.  Don't worry about the spelling, I just want you to sound it out. On the last page there are pictures of each stage in the butterfly life cycle.  Tear this page off and cut the pictures out.  You will use them on the last page.

I read the pages to the students, saying "blank" where they need to fill in a word.  I then say to them,  This book will be a summary of some of the things that you have learned about butterflies and it will be great to share this with your family.

The students begin working and I observe their work and assist with reading the sentences when needed.  When they are done, they read their books to me and then they work on coloring the book until the entire class is finished and we move into our lesson closing. 


5 minutes

To bring closing to the lesson, allow the students to reinforce what they have learned and practice their reading, I partner the students up and have them read the book to a partner.  I also encourage them to talk through each step in the butterfly life cycle.  Many of the students ask to put this book in the book boxes so they can reread it.  It is important to incorporate reading skills in to the science curriculum whenever possible.  It allows students to see a purpose for reading beyond literacy instruction. 

Many of the students like to read their book to me.  I accommodate as many as I can.  See video