Hands-On Activity Life Cycle of Butterflies

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1 Hands-On Activity Life Cycle of Butterflies In this activity, students will investigate the metamorphosis of butterflies. The students will record and communicate their observations through drawings and short statements. The students will be able to use their observations to justify explanations that support their claims about the various stages of the life cycle of butterflies. Ladybugs (ladybird beetles) have the same life cycle as butterflies can be used as an interesting alternative to for this activity. Ladybugs can be purchased from garden supply companies or similar companies that can provide butterfly kits. Materials: Per class: one (or more) butterfly life cycle kit Kits can be purchased on-line and vary by distributor. Monarchs and Painted Lady butterflies are the most commonly found in kits. Butterflies are usually shipped as small larva with either milkweed plants or leaves. In general, all kits should include caterpillars, a net house, and a food source. Per group: magnifying glass metric ruler some small objects (paper clips, erasers, pennies, etc.) Per student: science notebook crayons or colored pencils Explain to students that they will be able to observe the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into an adult butterfly. Make sure students understand that the caterpillars they will observe began their life cycle as eggs and now they have moved on to the larval stage of the life cycle. Allow students to participate in the set-up and maintenance of the butterfly kit. Follow the kit instructions to raise the butterfly from larva to adult. Tell the students to not handle the container while the larva is becoming a pupa or when the pupa is molting. They can be easily damaged at these times. Never touch a larva or an adult butterfly. Handling can easily injure them both. Some insect larvae can protect themselves with stings and it is always wise to not touch them. Students must was their hands after

2 each time that they handle or touch the butterfly kit and the butterflies. Allow students to read the Safety Reading Passage if they have not done do already. Use the Safety checklist to ensure that students are following proper safety procedures. Explain how to use a ruler to measure objects. To measure an object, line up the first line of the ruler, which is zero, with the object s edge. Observe where the other end of the object lies along the lines of the ruler. The line closest to the edge of the object is the approximate measurement of the object. The students should also measure the butterfly with non-standard units. They can use common classroom objects like paper clips or erasers to measure. Tell the students that they should use the objects just as they would use the ruler. The only difference is that their measurements will be in different units. For example, the pupa might measure one large paper clip long. Instruct the students to record both the standard and non-standard measurements in their charts and compare the measurements. After the initial set-up and when students are familiar with the life cycle of insects, have students review the following terms. larva: a young animal that will eventually undergo metamorphosis. pupa: the stage during the life cycle of an insect between the larva and the adult. chrysalis: the pupal stage of a butterfly. insect: a small animal with three body parts, two antennae, and six legs. metamorphosis: a process in which an animal s body undergoes dramatic changes in form during its life cycle. Ask students to brainstorm characteristics of the butterfly that they would like to track during the investigation. This could include the color and size of the insect, what it eats, and where it spends most of its time. Have students keep a record of their observations in their science notebook. Younger students can draw a picture each day in a chart such as the Sample Observation chart shown below. Observations should include drawings with accurate colors and details. Older students should include simple sentences about the observed life cycle stage. Students can also record data, such as how many days the monarch remains in each stage of the life cycle and how long it takes the chrysalis to hatch. Students should use appropriate science tools, such as magnifying glasses and rulers, to make their observations. Encourage students to measure the larva, pupa, and adult when possible, and make these measurements part of their daily observations. Students should write down any questions they have on the Student Activity Sheet or in their notebooks. Use the Teacher Observation Checklist as the students complete the activity.

3 Sample Observation chart: Daily Observations on Butterflies Day Life cycle Observations Measurements (both versions) stage 1 [larva] [drawing of a small caterpillar] [3 cm long] [1 paperclip long] (continue for as many days as needed)

4 To summarize their observations, consider having students make a summary chart such as the Sample Summary chart shown below. Most butterfly kits provide the butterflies as larva, and students are unable to observe the egg stage of the butterfly s life cycle. Fill in the first row titled egg together as a class. This both models how to use the chart to summarize observations and completes the butterfly life cycle since eggs are not included in most butterfly kits. Sample Summary Chart: Summary of Butterfly Life Cycle Day: What does it look like? [draw a picture] Observations [write a sentence to describe what it looks like] Egg [sample answer: drawing of an egg on a leaf] [sample answer: The egg looks like a tiny clear oval on a leaf] Number of day in this stage: [sample answer: 3-5 days] Larva Pupa Adult At the end of the investigation, ask students to explain the vocabulary words in terms of what they observed of the life cycle of the monarch butterflies. Consider having students work in pairs and use their summary chart to make a circular life cycle diagram. Plan for what to do with the adult butterflies once the activity is completed. Instruct students on how to safely release butterflies back into a natural environment. Use the Teacher Observation Checklist to assess how students release the insects. Have students demonstrate their release for you. Consider having a release party, or ask students for suggestions on an activity they would like to do when they release the butterflies.

5 In this activity, students will demonstrate the following Inquiry Skills: Design Investigations o Explain the investigative processes by: describing the logical sequence that was used to conduct the investigation. properly citing all equipment and materials. o Practice lab safety by: Following lab safety procedures Gather Data o Chooses appropriate tools to conduct an investigation Ruler/tape Measure Magnifying Glass o Use senses to observe Seeing (color, shape, size, texture, motion) o Uses the appropriate format to record data: Sketch Writing (journal, worksheet, electronic text) Diagram

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