Learn Animal Life Cycle from Caterpillar to Butterfly
Observing how caterpillar turn into butterfly is one of the many life science activities to teach kids about animal life cycle.
Most animals’ young look similar to the adults. However, there are some animals like frog, mosquito and butterfly, which the young go through a metamorphosis to turn into adult. Children learn about different animals have different life cycle. Observing how the young turns into adults definitely help to honk the kids’ observation skills.
This simple life science activity proves to be so engaging for my kids. They had bred a few different species of butterfly this way.
Collection of Butterflies Eggs and Caterpillars
Look for some butterfly eggs in the garden. Normally, the cluster of eggs are laid on the underside of plant’s leaves. It can be challenging looking for the eggs. If you cannot find the eggs, look for caterpillars feeding on leaves instead.
Taking Care of Caterpillars
Carefully take the caterpillar and place it into a plastic container. I strongly suggest a see through clear container so that everyone can observe the changes happening to the caterpillar. The clear container also provides natural light to the little creature. Do ensure the container has a cover or a hanging stick to let the pupa attach its cocoon. Also, make sure there are holes for air.
Feed the caterpillar daily with fresh leaves and some drops of water. From our experience, some caterpillars may only prefer leaves from some plants. Do ensure you have the supply for your little pet now. Clean the container when it gets dirty (we do notice that it defecates a lot after each meal)
When the caterpillar becomes lethargic and refuses to eat, let it be. It is almost ready to spin itself into a cocoon.
Care for the Pupa
After a few more days, you may wake up and find a cocoon attached to the cover of the container or the hanging stick now. Transfer the attached cocoon to a bigger container if your first container is too shallow. This is to allow the butterfly sufficient space to flap its wing when it emerges.
...Finally the Butterfly
Release the butterfly indoor to let it strengthen its wing before letting it flies off outdoor. Else, it may become prey to the birds.
Other Learning Lesson from this Simple Science Activity
This is a good lesson in teaching kids about responsibility too. They have to take care of their “pet” - the caterpillar - daily, including feeding, cleaning and letting the caterpillar out for “walk”. At the end of it, they are so happy when a beautiful butterfly emerges and flies off.
Such experiential learning is important for children. My son immediately produces an essay on how caterpillar turns into butterfly when he was required to write a non-friction article for his school assessment.