Compiled by Robyn © October 2004


The inspiration for this unit came from 2 little brown-veined white butterflies or grasveldwitjies, Mary and Alice, which we caught with our fishing nets one summer’s day in a field where we were taking our dogs for a run.




Butterflies are insects with two pairs of wings.  Like all insects, they have six legs and three body parts.  Their two antennae have knobs at the tips.  There are thousands of different kinds of butterflies. Butterflies drink nectar from flowers with their proboscis (this is like a long skinny tongue that they roll out to use).

The Life Cycle of Butterflies -

~  Butterfly eggs are usually laid on the underside of a leaf.

~  A tiny caterpillar hatches from the egg; the caterpillar eats and grows.

~ When it is big and fat, the caterpillar turns into a pupa (or chrysalis).

~ A beautiful adult butterfly emerges from the pupa and lays more eggs.


We were lucky enough to experience the life cycle of a butterfly for ourselves!  One night I brought home a big fat green caterpillar after rescuing her from a dustbin at a party!  The next day the girls were very excited when I showed them.  We gave her mulberry leaves to eat and one day later she disappeared!  She had turned into a chrysalis!  We waited for a week or so and just before New Years, something brushed past my legs.  It was her!  We all ran to see.  She had turned into a beautiful big yellow and black butterfly.  It was amazing for all of us to witness this wonder of nature.  The next time you see a fat caterpillar, instead of wishing her out of your garden, why not bring her inside and watch your very own butterfly life cycle!




The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle (Ages 2-5)  >>See Amazon Reviews>>

"In the light of the moon a little egg lay on a leaf."  The hungry caterpillar hatches and eats his way through food until he forms a cocoon around himself.  When he emerges...well, you can guess the results.  Beautifully illustrated story with die cut pages.  Teaches the life cycle, the days of the week and counting.


Where Butterflies Grow by Joanne Ryder  >>See Amazon Reviews>>

In a field of lacy leaves, a small caterpillar hatches, grows, and sheds its skin, becoming a smooth, green creeper. It eats and changes some more, then in a sequence of remarkable close-ups, spins a silken sling in which to pupate--until it finally bursts forth as a brilliant black swallowtail butterfly. Includes gardening tips to attract butterflies in your own garden.  Beautiful story and illustrations. 


A Kid's Guide to Attracting, Raising, and Keeping Butterflies by Kersten Hamilton >>See Amazon Reviews>>

The activities in this book will help you raise butterflies, attract them to your garden and care for them.  In addition to practical information, this attractive, 40-page book some interesting science facts, for example, did you know that chemical sensors on butterfly feet allow them to "taste" leaves?


Find Out About Butterflies by Michael Archer (All Ages) 

For answers to questions like how does a caterpillar become a butterfly or which South African butterfly is the biggest.  This book is part of the ‘Find Out About’ series, which explores topics of special interest in southern Africa.





To demonstrate how butterflies use their proboscis to drink, tape a flower shape with a hole in the centre to the top of a small cup filled with sweet juice.  Insert a straw as your proboscis and suck up the sweet nectar.



The colours of a butterfly help it to hide amongst the flowers and protect it from being eaten.  Colour some butterflies in assorted colours.  Later, hide the butterflies to blend in with your decor.  Have a butterfly hunt to see if you can find the camouflaged butterflies.


Counting Caterpillars
Cut out 6 coloured traced circles.  Write numbers 1-5 on five of them and keep one for the head.  Shuffle and then paste the circles side by side slightly overlapping onto a white paper in numerical order.  Draw a face on the front circle.  Add little feet & antennae.  Another option ~ write letters of child’s name on the circles.


Feet Butterflies
Dip bare feet into a shallow pan of paint.  Step onto a piece of paper so feet are going outward from the heels together. When dry, add antenna with markers and decorate as you wish, buttons, glitter, shapes...


Fantasy/Gross Motor

Use fairy wings or make wings.  Make antennae by using hair bands (or a cardboard head band) and pipe cleaners and do some flying and dancing to music.  Gross motor skills can be practised incl. walking, running, jumping, hopping, ‘flying’ and skipping.



Make pictures of the 4 stages of a butterfly’s life cycle ~ the egg, the caterpillar, the chrysalis and the butterfly.  These can be done either by using the colouring-in pictures found below or by using pasta: a tapioca for the egg, a spiral pasta for the caterpillar, a shell pasta for the chrysalis, and a bow pasta for the butterfly.  Shuffle the pictures and stick them up into the correct sequence.


Paper Chain Caterpillar

Cut and decorate strips of paper, interlink and glue to make a movable chain caterpillar.  Stick a circle on the front chain and draw a face.  Option – use 2 different papers and glue them alternately for sequencing.


Fold a sheet of paper in half and open.  Paint half a butterfly (outline and patterns) on one side of the paper.  Fold the paper and press.  The result will be a symmetrical painting.  Antennas can be added using markers.


Stained Glass Butterflies

Cut out 2 large identical butterflies.  Fold the butterflies in half together and cut out some symmetrical shapes from the wings.  Glue coloured cellophane between the cut outs, stick together and hang in a window.


Hungry Caterpillar Maths

Make 2 index cards for each day, one with the numeral and one with the fruit to use for matching ~

Monday one apple

Tuesday two pears

Wednesday three plums

Thursday four strawberries

Friday five oranges



Make word cards for the numbers One to Five and match to the fruit pictures and to the numeral cards.


Coffee Filter Butterflies

Colour in a coffee filter using washable markers.  Not too much in one place or you'll make a hole.  Lightly spray with water to make the colours bleed into a lovely design.  When dry, pinch together in the middle to make the wings and secure with a pipe cleaner to make a body and two antennae.  Hang up your  butterfly.



Cut out some LARGE leaves from green construction paper and write a number on each leaf.  Using counters such as small white buttons or beans for eggs, count out the correct number of eggs onto each leaf.



Using die-cut butterflies, create all kinds of matching games.  Younger children can match same colours using two whole butterflies or one butterfly cut in half.  Older ones can match colour butterflies to colour words, dots on the butterfly to number words or numerals, capital letters to lowercase.


Play Dough Caterpillars

Have fun rolling play dough balls and making them into caterpillars.


Caterpillar Snack

Make by using circle slices of banana together in a row with raisin eyes and pretzels for antennae.


Butterfly Sandwiches

Cut a slice of bread into half diagonally to form two triangles.  Put the two points together to form butterfly.  Decorate with cream cheese, carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumber etc.


Caterpillar Fruit Kebabs

Use sliced bananas, melon balls, grapes, cubed pineapple, strawberries or any fruit in season and alternate fruit onto the wooden kebab sticks.  Use 2 toothpicks for antennae.



The Metamorphosis Song to the tune of ‘I'm a Little Teapot’

I'm a little caterpillar

See me crawl (crawl like caterpillars)

Watch me curl up in a ball

(curl up into a chrysalis)

Then out of my chrysalis I will fly

Look, I'm a beautiful butterfly! (fly like butterflies)


1, 2, 3, 4, 5 – Once I caught a butterfly!

6, 7, 8, 9, 10 – Then I let him go again.


The Fuzzy Caterpillar to the tune of ‘Incy Wincy Spider’

The fuzzy caterpillar

Curled up on a leaf,

Spun her little chrysalis

And then fell fast asleep.

While she was sleeping

She dreamed that she could fly,

And later when she woke up

She was a butterfly!




The Letter C Caterpillar Worksheet


Butterfly pictures - turn into colour-by-number/shape/letter


Maze - caterpillar to butterfly

Poor caterpillar – Dot to Dot


Colour and Cut Out Butterfly


Butterfly Cut Outs from Learning Page.com




The Very Hungry Caterpillar Unit - The Virtual Vine


Butterfly Mini Unit - Calico Cookie


Butterflies & Caterpillars Theme Unit from Kinder Korner


Butterfly Crafts & Worksheets from Enchanted Learning.com


Step by Step’s Butterfly Unit


Online Butterfly Games, Word Search, Colouring Pages with Life Cycle and Facts – Primary Games


Raising Butterflies and Moths


Make Your Own Butterfly House






Information and Pictures about the Butterfly Families found in SA


The Lepidopterists Society of Africa





Butterflies for Africa – Pietermaritzburg 033 3871356


Butterfly World – Cape Town














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