18 Caterpillar & Butterfly Activities For Preschool { and Books too! }

butterfly and caterpillar ideas for preschool We are in the MIDDLE of learning all about bugs in my class and by FAR the favorites have been caterpillars and butterflies. They’re my daughter’s favorites too. I think that the fact that you can learn all about the lifecycle at such a young age has something to do with this. I like that as a teacher of really young children I can connect science, literacy, art, music, and movement into one theme so easily.

Here are my favorite caterpillar and butterfly activities for preschool.

paper plate butterfly with jewels

Easy Paper Plate Butterflies
egg carton caterpillars for kids

Clear Egg Carton Caterpillars

easy toddler crafts

Toddler Butterfly Craft 

caterpillar craft for kidsSize Order Caterpillar 
alphabet activities for kids

Alphabet Butterfly Garden Activity

monarch butterfly craft

Wooden Peg Monarch Butterfly 

butterflydyedpastasensorybin

Butterfly Sensory Table

easy caterpillar craft for kids

Paint Stick Caterpillar 

spring crafts for kids

Coffee Filter & Colored Glue Butterfly 

butterfly life cycle

Fill in the Blank Life Cycles 

butterfly-craft

Handprint Butterfly 

color and match color matching activity for kids

Color Matching Butterflies 

Butterfly Cereal Necklaces

Cereal Butterfly Necklaces

caterpillar c

Caterpillar C Letter Craft 

rp_butterfly-009-e1362553882290.jpg

Fall Leaf Butterfly 

butterfly pasta

Pasta Butterfly Collage 

Bandaid Butterfly Craft

Band Aid Butterflies 

egg carton caterpillar classic craft

 

Classic Egg Carton Caterpillars

 

Books About Caterpillars and Butterflies For Kids

All book lists include affiliate links.
very hungry caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle is a classic, that most preschool teachers like myself can recite from memory. It really is a fantastic book, not only does it explain the life cycle of a butterfly it also is useful for a lesson about the days of the week and healthy eating. Children love relating to the caterpillar who eats too many treats and ends up with a belly ache before eating one more healthy leaf and spinning a chrysalis.

rp_BobandOtto.jpg

Bob and Otto by Robert O. Bruel is a lovely story about 2 friends who must part ways , in this case because one is a caterpillar who needs to build a chrysalis and the other an earthworm who needs to dig deep into the ground. What I like about this book is that it goes on to explain that the earth worm’s digging is vital for the trees to grow so that the caterpillar can eat the leaves and turn into a butterfly. I like the lesson about how we all play a part!

the crunching munching caterpillar

The Crunching Munching Caterpillar by Sheridan Cain is another story about a caterpillar who is not happy with his lot in life. There is a fair bit of language that some parents would object to. This caterpillar is often reminded that he is too fat to fly- so that poses a few challenges to parents like myself who are trying to instill healthy body images as well as using respectful words with others in our children. I have dealt with this book in two ways, first by saying that the caterpillar is getting fat but it’s a good thing because he will be sleeping for a long time in his chrysalis and needs that fat to live. Also, I have simply replaced fat with big, a word that is much less ugly to many people’s ears.
From Caterpillar to Butterfly

From Caterpillar to Butterfly by Deborah Heligiman is part of my favorite non-fiction for kids series ” Let’s Read and Find Out Science”.  I always grab these books at garage sales and thrift stores. In this edition, you follow a classroom of students observing a caterpillar as it metamorphosis into a butterfly. A classic spring activity for preschool age children to discover and learn about life cycles. Also a perfect match for your own Insect Lore Live Butterfly Garden which I highly recommend and will be doing this year with my son. Reading non-fiction with your preschoolers is important as it teaches them seamlessly that writing and reading are not just for stories but for information too.

butterfly colors

Butterfly Butterfly: A Book of Colors by Petr Horaeck is such a wonderful book! I love the simple text and engaging story about a little girl who is trying to find the butterfly that she saw the day before. In her attempts, she finds many other colorful bugs in her garden. At the end of the book is a beautiful pop-up butterfly that will delight your little readers. I read this to a class of 2 and 3-year-olds who were glued to every page and both my kids who are 3 and 7 loved it as well.  Great book!

Egg Carton Caterpillar Craft

egg carton caterpillar craft We love egg carton caterpillars, they are possibly the most classic of all crafts. We decided to make a fresh twist on an old favorite. Our egg carton caterpillars are a little different. No glue or paint means your child can play with their creation right away or if you are a teacher your students can pack them up and take them home that day. This is a fast craft that can fit into pretty much any schedule. So next time you are picking up eggs grab some in a plastic carton and make some egg carton caterpillars.

egg carton caterpillar craft for kids

Gather your materials. You will need a plastic egg carton, sharpies, scissors, adhesive googly eyes ( our friends at craftprojectideas.com sent us these!), and some pipe cleaners.

egg carton crafts

Start by cutting the carton into caterpillars. Take a second to check for sharp edges and use your scissors to round any you find.egg carton craft for kids

Get out the Sharpies and color. The eye shadow and facepaint are optional. My daughter and our little friend who is three both took great care with the “big kid” markers. They were careful and loved being given the responsibility of something for older kids. sharpies in preschool age crafts egg cartonsYou may still want something to protect your table.

egg carton caterpillar craft for camp

After that, it’s time for the eyes. egg carton caterpillar craft for childrenThese adhesive googly eyes rock- the kids popped them on themselves easy peasy!

egg carton caterpillars for kidsThe antennas were my job, poking it through the plastic was really hard when I tried to do it through the bottom, but the side of the carton was super easy to poke through. If you can’t just poke through with your pipe cleaner try a thumb tack to make a small hole then thread it through.egg carton caterpillars arts and crafts

Play!

Books About Caterpillars

All book lists include affiliate links.

 

percival the plain caterpillar

Percival the Plain Little Caterpillar by Helen Brawley is one of my son’s favorite books right now, due to the fact that there are shiny and shimmery pictures throughout! The story though leaves something to be desired, as the message seems to be that being plain is bad and the only fix for poor Percival is when he turns into a beautiful butterfly! When reading this to my class I would often interject with questions to my students about what they thought was cool about Percival, and that combated the undesirable message that you have to be beautiful to be worthy.

 bob and otto book

Bob and Otto by Robert O. Bruel is a lovely story about 2 friends who must part ways , in this case because one is a caterpillar who needs to build a chrysalis and the other an earthworm who needs to dig deep into the ground. What I like about this book is that it goes on to explain that the earth worm’s digging is vital for the trees to grow so that the caterpillar can eat the leaves and turn into a butterfly. I like the lesson about how we all play a part!

the crunching munching caterpillar

The Crunching Munching Caterpillar by Sheridan Cain is another story about a caterpillar who is not happy with his lot in life. There is a fair bit of language that some parents would object to. This caterpillar is often reminded that he is too fat to fly- so that poses a few challenges to parents like myself who are trying to instill healthy body images as well as using respectful words with others in our children. I have dealt with this book in two ways, first by saying that the caterpillar is getting fat but it’s a good thing because he will be sleeping for a long time in his chrysalis and needs that fat to live. Also, I have simply replaced fat with big, a word that is much less ugly to many people’s ears.

very hungry caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle is a classic, that most preschool teachers like myself can recite from memory. It really is a fantastic book, not only does it explain the life cycle of a caterpillar/ butterfly it also is useful for a lesson about the day of the week and healthy eating! It was a childhood favorite of mine and if the fact that he fell asleep holding his ” Pillar” is any indication it is already one of my son’s favorites too!

From Cateroillar to Butterfly

From Caterpillar to Butterfly by Deborah Heligiman is part of my favorite non-fiction for kids series ” Let’s Read and Find Out Science”.  I always grab these books at garage sales and thrift stores. In this edition, you follow a classroom of students observing a caterpillar as it metamorphosis into a butterfly. A classic spring activity for preschool age children to discover and learn about life cycles. Also a perfect match for your own Insect Lore Live Butterfly Garden which I highly recommend and will be doing this year with my son. Reading non-fiction with your preschoolers is important as it teaches them seamlessly that writing and reading are not just for stories but for information too.

caterpillar and polliwog

The Caterpillar and the Polliwog by Jack Kent is a sentimental favorite. I remember being read this book in elementary school when learning about life cycles. It’s more than just about life cycles of butterflies and frogs, it’s about becoming comfortable with who you are. I remember thinking it was hilarious when the caterpillar tells the turtle that she will be changing into something else not just getting bigger and bigger and he replies with ” I don’t blame you.” It made me snort as an adult too. Good for preschool through the early elementary years and if like me you read it as a child there is, of course, the sentimental factor. I love sharing books from my childhood with my kids.

Caterpillar Craft For Kids

easy caterpillar craft for kids We’ve been doing a lot of home renovations and have a lot of remnants of them around. We decided to use one of these paint stir sticks that always seem to arrive with new cans of paint even though we say we don’t need them. Instead of letting this stir stick go to waste we turned it into a caterpillar craft. You don’t need to sneak into Home Depot to get a stick  if you don’t have one laying around, you can use old rulers or even just a piece of cardboard cut in a strip.

Gather your materials. You will need a paint stir stick, pom poms, glue, googly eyes, a pipe cleaner and paint. We used paint daubers because they dry so quickly and we didn’t want to take a break in our art time. You may also want some scrap paper under the stick to keep the paint from getting on your table. My daughter helped me set up the shot.

pom pom caterpillar craft

Start by painting. She loved this and I just sat back while she worked on her hand eye coordination with this step.cateroillar craft for kids

Grab the glue! The glue will probably pick up some of the paint color but it won’t wreck the craft.caterpillar craft fine motor skills

Add on the eyes. caterpillar add the eyes If your child adds the eyes in the middle of the stick resist the urge to peel them off. Let them create, crafts are wonderful opportunities to create while working on so many other skills and there is NO need for perfect little facsimiles. One tip is to provide materials but no example. When you show kids what you are making they will likely duplicate it but if you give them materials to create it remains less structured , the more options for materials the more open it becomes. I usually ask my daughter what she wants to make and have her help me choose what we use, which is why so much of it is pink.

More glue! caterpillar craft more glue yay

Add the pom poms!caterpillar craft for kids with paint sticks

Add on the antennae too! caterpilar craft for kids

 

As soon as this was dry my wee girl popped it on her bedside table so it can watch her sleep. I think it may a bit like a dream catcher, watching over her at night. When she attaches so deeply to something she created I can’t help but smile. Excuse the iPhone photo but after so many years with terrible sleeper I had to sneak in and get a shot in the pitch black! Thank you Instagram for your magical filters.

sleeping with her caterpillar craft

Caterpillar Books For Kids

All our book lists include affiliate links.

bob and otto book

Bob and Otto by Robert O. Bruel is a lovely story about two friends who must part ways , in this case because one is a caterpillar who needs to build a chrysalis and the other an earth worm who needs to dig deep into the ground. What I like about this book is that it goes on to explain that the earth worm’s digging is vital for the trees to grow so that the caterpillar can eat the leaves and turn into a butterfly.  The message being that everyone has an important job to do even if they aren’t the same.

 

very hungry caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle is a classic, that most preschool teachers like myself can recite from memory. It really is a fantastic book, not only does it explain the life cycle of a caterpillar/ butterfly it also is useful for lesson about day of the week and healthy eating. The simple cut outs in the illustrations where the caterpillar ate through different foods is just the right amount of novelty to grab kids attention for this simple story. It was a childhood favorite of mine and both my children have loved it as much as I do.

caterpillar and polliwog

The Caterpillar and the Polliwog by Jack Kent is a sentimental favorite. I remember being read this book in elementary school when learning about life cycles. It’s more than just about life cycles of butterflies and frogs, it’s about becoming comfortable with who you are. I remember thinking it was hilarious when the caterpillar tells the turtle that she will be changing into something else not just getting bigger and bigger and he replies with ” I don’t blame you.” It made me snort as an adult too. Good for preschool through the early elementary years and if like me you read it as a child there is of course the sentimental factor. I love sharing books from my childhood with my kids.

Bug Activities For Toddlers

bug ideas for toddlers Toddlers love bugs. I have often thought about what it is about bugs that interests children so much and I think it’s that they are so accessible. No matter where you live you live near some bugs. These bug activities were all done with at least one of my children when they were a toddler. For me that is from about 18 months until 3 , but these activities would be fun for older kids too. It’s easy to find books about bugs for toddlers as well and you can find some of my favorite in this book list about bugs.

bug crafts for toddlers

Ribbon Butterfly
Ladybug Song
Worm Painting
Paper Plate Butterfly

play dough bug imprints for preschool
Playdough Bug Fossils
Letter B Bee
Coffee Filter Snails
Indoor Bug Hunt

spider web walking
Spider Web Gross Motor Activity
Caterpillar C
Paper Plate Ladybug
Color Matching Butterflies

bug
Bug Painting For Toddlers
Playdough Bug Sculptures
Egg Carton Caterpillar
Paper Plate Spider
Hand Print Butterfly

butterfly-craft

Playdough Bug Fossils

bug fossils playdough

 

We love playing with playdough. I think it would be a toss up between playdough and Duplo for which gets played with more at our house. This activity is not complicated but it was fun and kept my daughter super happy while we all battled stomach flu a few weeks ago. As a parent when you find something that is keeping a miserable child happy you roll with it. The trick seems to be really fantastic plastic bugs that leave very detailed imprints in the playdough. Ours were given to us years ago by a neighbor but here is an affiliate link to Amazon for the bugs if you want to check them out for yourself.

 

Gather your materials. You will need some playdough, a cutting board ( we reserve one just for playdough) and plastic bugs.playdough bug prints

I set the playdough as small balls that are ready to be pressed into disks by my little one.playdough bug prints for preschool

Next she added the bugs and pressed them in.playdough bug printing

Then pulled them off and saw the imprint.playdough fossils rainy day activity

repeat again and again and again.bug prints in playdough like fossils It’s not ground breaking but good gracious it’s FUN!play dough bug imprints for preschool

Add to the fun with books about bugs. Click through the image below for a great list.

19 books about bugs