Butterfly Unit Study for Elementary Students

Spring time is here! Sunshine, warmth, and everything green. To welcome in spring, here is a unit study on butterflies as a way to introduce the concept of metamorphosis and dig a little deeper into an area of science that interests many children.

Growing in His Glory: Butterfly Unit Study

Great Books on Butterflies 

Choose several books to read. Then pick some butterfly activities to do together. Here are a few favorite butterfly books:

From Caterpillar to Butterfly (Let’s Read & Find Out Science, Stage 1by Deborah Heiligman

A Butterfly is Patient by Dianna Hutts Aston

The Butterfly by Patricia Polacco (Any book by Polacco is a real treat to read!)

Where Butterflies Grow by Joanne Ryder

Monarch Butterfly by Gail Gibbons (Gibbons’ books are also gems.)

Caterpillars, Bugs, & Butterflies: Take Along Guide by Mel Boring

Butterfly House by Eve Bunting

Butterfly Eyes & Other Secrets of the Meadow by Joyce Sidman

Butterfly Activities

Here are a variety of activities geared for elementary-age children. Pick and choose the ones that best suit your kids. Dig deeper if your child is interested.

It’s always good to begin your days and lessons with the Lord. Why not start by looking at what God’s Word has to say pertaining to butterflies?


1. Read Genesis 1. On what day do you think God created butterflies? There’s some discussion here.

2. Read 2 Corinthians 5:17. How do you think this verse relate to butterflies?

3. For older students, how can you compare the metamorphosis of the butterfly with a person’s transformation from sinner to saved? See 2 Corinthians 3:18 & Ephesians 4:20-24.

Science & Nature Study Activities

1. Observe the butterfly life cycle with a live butterfly garden (we just got ours in the mail). Use this free butterfly notebook from 123Homeschool4me to jot down observations and record facts about your butterflies. Keep track each day of changes from egg to caterpillar to butterfly. Add pictures you take or draw your own. Glue in some milkweed seeds and flowers. Add poems and artwork. Be sure to date each entry. When you release your fully grown butterflies, have a little celebration!

2. Before becoming butterflies, caterpillars shed their skin multiple times and eat it! Watch a caterpillar molt in this video. What other creatures also shed their skin or molt? Find the answer here.

3. Watch the Monarch Butterfly Life Cycle on YouTube. Then, draw the life cycle of the butterfly and put it in your Butterfly Notebook. Or if you’re feeling crafty, use this template from Buggy & Buddy to make a Butterfly Life Cycle on a paper plate.

4. Find out what and how butterflies eat. Check out this site for answers.

5. Plant a butterfly garden. Butterflies on the go need to stop for refreshment on their way. Make your yard a butterfly oasis by growing flowers they like, where they like them.

  1. Pick a site in the sun. Butterflies like the sun because it keeps their bodies warm.
  2. Plant butterflies’ favorite plants like milkweed, butterfly bushes, marigold, zinnias, cosmos, lantana, hollyhocks, lavender, phlox, and purple coneflowers.
  3. Add a watering hole or bird bath for butterflies to stop and drink at.
  4. Watch the butterflies and record your findings in your Butterfly Notebook.

For more details about creating a butterfly garden, visit The Butterfly Site.

6. Label the parts of the butterfly using this printable.

7. Create a Butterfly Bouquet. Gather and slice strawberries, watermelon, apples, and ripe bananas into a pie tin or plastic container. Mix 2-3 teaspoons sugar and honey into 1/2 cup water. Add to fruit. Place dish on porch, in the garden, or on an outdoor bench or table. Watch for butterflies. Be careful! You may attract bees too!

8. Choose a type of butterfly to research. Find out 5 interesting facts. Draw a picture of the butterfly, and put what you draw and learn in your Butterfly Notebook. Here’s a great site with a gallery of butterfly images.

9. Research the scientific classification for butterflies. Is the butterfly an insect? What are the Kingdom, Phylum, Class, and Order to which they belong?

Literature, Vocabulary, Grammar, & Copy Work/Writing


1. Read and analyze Emily Dickinson’s “The Butterfly Upon the Sky.” What is the poem about? Extend this poem study by doing some research on Dickinson and read some other poems she wrote.

The Butterfly Upon the Sky

The Butterfly upon the Sky,

That doesn’t know its Name

And hasn’t any tax to pay

And hasn’t any Home

Is just as high as you and I,

And higher, I believe,

So soar away and never sigh

And that’s the way to grieve —

2. Choose two of the above listed (or other) butterfly books — one fiction, the other nonfiction. Discuss differences between the types of books, and create a chart of characteristics of fiction versus nonfiction books. Talk about characters, setting, tone, plot, etc. Which type of book do you prefer? Why?


1. Define the following words using a dictionary:

  • Antennae
  • Metamorphosis
  • Migration
  • Molting
  • Proboscis
  • Pupa

2. What does it mean to have “butterflies in my stomach”?

3. What does the word butterfly mean?


Circle the nouns, underline pronouns, draw a box around verbs, and star the adjectives in the above poem.

Copy Work/Writing

1. Copy the above Dickinson poem in your best handwriting. Put it in your Butterfly Notebook.

2. Write your own butterfly poem. Draw an outline of a butterfly. Inside, give your butterfly shape by writing words or lines of descriptive words pertaining to butterflies.

3. Pretend you’re a caterpillar or butterfly. Write a story about what happens to you.

4. Write an acrostic poem using the first letters of the word butterfly. Illustrate it.

Art & More


1. Make and decorate a Butterfly Sun-Catcher.

2. Color some butterfly coloring sheets from Blessed Beyond a Doubt.

3. Make coffee filter butterflies using watercolors.

Math/Art: Talk about symmetry, then put symmetry into practice by painting butterflies like the one above. Where else can you find symmetry in nature?

Geography: Visit this site to find out what butterflies live in your state. You can also find out what each type of butterfly likes to eat. 

Field Trip: Visit a butterfly garden.

Foreign Language: Find out how to say “butterfly” in the language you’re studying.

Physical Education: Do some butterfly stretches. Why do you think they’re named that?

 “Just living is not enough,” said the butterfly, “one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower.” 

~Hans Christian Andersen

For more butterfly activities, follow my Butterflies Unit Study board on Pinterest.

Happy spring!! Let me know if you do this Butterfly Unit Study. I would LOVE to hear how things went for you!


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  1. This is great, Keri! My kids love all things butterfly and bird. Pinning!

  2. This is awesome! My mother raises butterflies and my children LOVE to go to Grandma’s house to see them. I was planning to do a unit study on butterflies in the late spring. Thank you so much for sharing these amazing resources! (PS Found you on the Mom2Mom Linkup.)
    Mary-Ann recently posted…DIY Resurrection EggsMy Profile

    • Thank you, Mary-Ann. You have an amazing resource for a butterfly study– your mom! That’s so neat!!

  3. Great unit study! I also have a butterfly unit in my drafts that I haven’t gotten around to finish… Such is life 😉 We really enjoyed learning about them in our homeschool too. Such pretty little creatures with so much symbolism. Thank you for sharing this great resource on the Art of Home-Making Mondays!
    JES recently posted…About Calendula {Information, Recipes, DIY’s} ~ Herbal Link UpMy Profile

  4. Good morning! This post has been *featured* today at the Art of Home-Making Mondays! Thank you so much for sharing with us 🙂 Our new link up is up and running and we would love to have you join in again this week!
    JES recently posted…The Art of Home-Making Mondays ~ Please Join Us ~ Link Up #47My Profile

  5. My son and I have been doing a lot more unit studies lately. Thank you for sharing this. It looks like something we would enjoy doing.

    • Jennifer, I hope you and your son enjoy learning more about butterflies. We are waiting for our caterpillars to arrive and then we will be doing it too. Let me know what you and your son enjoy the most.


  1. […] girls and I recently did a unit study on butterflies. Using this kit we watched our caterpillars go through metamorphosis, becoming chrysalids and […]