Objective: Children will learn about the life cycle of a butterfly as it grows from caterpillar to butterfly.
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Note: This lesson will take 2–3 weeks to complete. Try using monarch caterpillars (see Lesson Tips) because they will emerge from their chrysalis in only 14 days. You will need a daily supply of fresh milkweed for the caterpillar, enough for approximately 14 days.
The life cycle of a butterfly takes place in four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The whole process takes about 30 days. Butterfly eggs are usually found on the underside of a plant leaf; monarch butterfly eggs are tiny yellowish-orange, oval shaped balls found on the underside of a milkweed plant leaf. Once the egg hatches, a tiny caterpillar emerges. The caterpillar is a butterfly larva. Caterpillars eat quite a lot and grow quickly. When the caterpillar is finished growing, it forms itself into a pupa, also called a chrysalis. Once inside the chrysalis, the caterpillar will undergo a transformation called metamorphosis, and a beautiful butterfly will emerge.
Butterflies lay their eggs on the underside of plant leaves they like to eat. When the tiny caterpillars hatch, they will need to eat and eat. Each type of caterpillar only likes to eat certain types of plants. For example, monarch butterflies eat only milkweed. Adult butterflies have a very short lifespan and need to be released to the wild as soon as they can fly—to lay their eggs—and the cycle begins again.
These lessons are aligned with the Common Core State Standards ("CCSS"). The CCSS provide a consistent, clear understanding of the concepts and skills children are expected to learn and guide teachers to provide their students with opportunities to gain these important skills and foundational knowledge.
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There are currently no Common Core Standards for pre-k, but these lessons are aligned as closely as possible to capture the requirements and meet the goals of Common Core Standards. However, these lessons were neither reviewed or approved by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices or the Council of Chief State School Officers, which together are the owners and developers of the Common Core State Standards.