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!

Fill In The Blank Life Cycles – Preschool Science

fill in the blank life cycles for kidsChildren are natural sorters. They like order and understand steps very early on if we present them in a fun hands-on way. Nothing beats seeing a lifecycle in action. I encourage all of you to get a Butterfly Garden ( affiliate link), or find a frog pond where you can visit multiple times to see the changing stages first hand. If you can NOT do either of those this hands-on activity is a great alternative and what I love about these life cycle manipulatives is that kids will play with them over and over again. As I type this our frog and tadpoles you see in this post have just been relocated to our swampy sensory table.Of course, if you don’t have access to these models or the budget to spend on them you can always hand draw the stages, cut out, color and laminate them. I am often asked if I read then do the activities or the other way around. In this case, if you are introducing the life cycles for the first time read the books first and do these fill in the blank life cycles after.

fill in the blank life cycles 1

To create these super simple fill in the blank life cycles you will need some life cycle manipulatives like these ones I got at Michael’s ( or draw your own), some good quality paper, markers, and a tray or two.

frog life cycle

Trace around each step in the life cycle. If your child is a reader add the stage with a word but if not skip it. I added it at first and my daughter was so intent on sounding it out that when she couldn’t ( chrysalis ) it frustrated her. The shape of the item will be an effective prompt. If you are drawing your own make sure the shapes are distinct after you cut them out. life cycle fill in the blank sheetsMy helper took this picture of me tracing I think it’s the first picture of me prepping an activity in 7 years. butterfly life cycle activity

Add arrows to show the direction of the transformation. I had help with this step. Too bad my order was off ( this friends is what happens when you blog on too little sleep… please note the correct order is egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, butterfly…. ) fill in the blank life cycle of frog

Label the life cycle in the middle so your child can identify which mat they need. My daughter can recognize these words so I didn’t include a picture but for a classroom with all different levels I would include a picture of a frog, butterfly, or turtle in the middle and laminate.

Pop the manipulatives on a second tray or in a shallow dish.turtle life cycle activity

Start matching them up.life cycles for preschool

If you are doing this in a free choice setting for a class I’d suggest doing it at circle time first and then either later that day or the next time you meet having it out for individuals to use their prior knowledge. Don’t forget that you can place as many or as few of the pieces on the sheet to start with to help your child be successful

life cycles

 

As she placed the pieces of the life cycles we talked about each of them.

Books About Life Cycles

all book lists contain 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 the 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.

fish

Fish is Fish by Leo Lionni is a cute book that not only talks about friendship but it also explains the transformation of a tadpole into a frog in an entertaining way. I have used this book in classrooms while doing animal life cycles and kids always love how the fish in the book imagines humans as fish with legs! The story of the friendship between the little tadpole and minnow can’t be ignored either, it’s a great message about change and the way friendships if true can withstand change.from tadpole to frog

From Tadpole to Frog by Wendy Pfeffer is another gem from the “Let’s- Read-And-Find-Out” series. It goes into great detail without offering too much for young readers. When I was reading it to my 2-year-old, I skipped some pages, it’s a little long for him still, but 3-5-year-olds are the perfect age for this nonfiction book. The illustrations are interesting and kept my wiggly man into the book when the text went above his head.

 

Need a song to help teach about the butterfly life cycle? Try this one! 

Monarch Butterfly Craft For Kids

monarch butterfly craft I hope you like butterflies as much as we do! This butterfly craft was inspired by our first monarch butterfly sighting ( or at least we think it was a monarch). When my daughter and I were digging through our craft cabinets for inspiration we saw the party streamers saved from Halloween and this is what we made. I wasn’t sure how it would turn out or if the streamers would stay in the clothes peg. We made these a week ago and they have stayed in place perfectly.

Gather your materials. You will need some wooden pegs like these from craftprojectideas.com , party streamers in orange, yellow, white, and black, markers, scissors, and pipe cleaners. monarch butterfly craft for preschool

Start by cutting your streamers. If your child is interested you can have them make a pattern. monarch butterflies craft

Next color your peg with markers. My daughter loved this and colored both of ours at the same time. We used smelly markers and in the split second that I was putting the camera back down she stuck both the markers up her nose. Can’t really blame her, they smell so good! Guess we will need to get new markers. butterfly craft for preschool

Time to put the party streamers into the pegs. These pegs have a slit and the paper can be carefully slid into it and then scrunched. Great concentration exercise! monarch butterfly craft for kindergarten

Next time for some pipe cleaner antennae. Pink was a must. mess free butterfly craft

What I love about this butterfly craft is that there is no drying time. No paint and no glue means no wait needed to send it home or play with it!

 

Books About Butterflies

Extend or introduce this activity with a story or two about butterflies. All our book lists include affiliate links.

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 is 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!

 

 

Easy Paper Plate Craft – Butterfly

paper plate butterfly craft We love simple crafts that can be set up and made using only a few materials and done in those little snippets of time that busy families have. Yesterday we hit the gym, the grocery store, the beach , and two school conferences. It was a busy day to say the least but when my daughter and I were briefly in the playroom I noticed she’d covered a book in gems and asked her if she wanted to make a craft with them. We didn’t have time to make this complicated and I think it turned out perfectly simple. I started making one after I cut two plates by accident but she ended up finishing mine too! This easy paper plate craft is great for fine motor development ( picking up and placing all those little pieces) too.

Gather your materials. You will need a paper plate, pipe cleaner, glue, scissors, and some fun collage material like gems, buttons, sequins…. whatever you have on hand. butterfly craft

Start by cutting two triangles out of the plate. paper plate craft butterfly

Add glue. Much like her brother at this age adding glue is rather dramatic at times. paper plate butterflies craft for kids

Add on the gems and buttons. fine motor paper plate butterflyShe had to spill them all over the table so she could find the “most amazing ones.” Seems logical!jewel butterfly craft

Let dry enough so that the gems don’t fall off. Add the pipe cleaner. She finished mine while hers was drying so you can see tons of glue on mine. paper plate butterfly with jewels

 

Color Matching Activity

color matching game with butterflies for kidsThis simple color matching activity works on more than just color recognition. It also works on fine motor skills and even counting. I used a butterfly theme because my daughter adores them but if your child is not into butterflies use whatever theme they are into . I wasn’t planning on her coloring the butterflies at first but as I was setting the activity up she wanted to help so I started over and she colored as many as she wanted. When we do activities like these I usually play once with my children and then leave the set up on the table in the playroom for a few days ready for them to play independently.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some paper cut outs ( our butterflies were pink on one side and white on the other ) , markers in a variety of colors, crayons on the same, and a mix of small items like buttons, beads, and pom poms. color and match color matching activity for kids supplies
  2. Start by writing the color names on your butterflies. As you do the activity you can point out the word and individual letters as well. color and match color match activity color words
  3. Color the butterflies. My daughter colored pink and green and I colored the rest with the crayons. color and match color matching coloring the butterflies
  4. I taped the butterflies down with painter’s tape to help avoid any slipping while playing.color and match color matching preparing to play Nothing like a spill or slip to frustrate a three year old and end the activity.color and match butterflies coloring matching game
  5. Add your bowl of bits and pieces and start matching! color match game for kidsI loved listening to her dialogue with herself when she found a bead that wasn’t in one of the colors we chose. ” Oh so sorry we don’t have your color.” and ” Too bad no brown.” it also presented a choice does she try to find the closest color or just leave them in the bowl? She soon focused almost all her energies on finding pink and only pink beads and buttons. color match activity for kidsThis activity also lent itself naturally to counting. color matching butterfliesCount the colors, count the beads vs pom poms … there are lots of opportunities for learning. color and match color matching activity for kids

Books About Colors

b

Hello, Red Fox

Hello, Red Fox by Eric Carle is a fun interactive book about colors and the color wheel. Kids will love the “trick” on each page. The trick being that if you stare at a color for long enough then stare at a blank page the complimentary color will appear! This book is great, but not for a group, a class will disintegrate into “Let me!!” and “My turn!” quickly so this is really is best read one on one!

Dog's Colorful Day

Dog’s Colorful Day by Emma Dodd was a huge hit at our house. My son loved identifying the colors of all the drips of paint, ice cream and more that Dog gets on him throughout the day. This is a great book not only because it has counting and colors but because of the language it uses while the spots of color are splatting, squashing ans squishing onto his beautiful white fur. My son loved repeating these words with enthusiasm as he noted how poor Dog was getting so messy! It’s a fun book to read and one that I have added to my wish list !

Brown Bear Brown Bear

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. is a book that can go with a baby from infancy through toddlerhood and into the preschool years. The bold colors of the illustrations by Eric Carle are perfect for catching infant’s attention and will continue to grab it through the years. With the turn of each page the reader is left wondering what’s next, and if the reader is my son he will cut you off to tell you what’s coming next before you have a chance to turn the page. There are other titles in the series , including ; Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?, Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See? , and Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? but this one is my very favorite! My daughter has loved this book for years and it was the first book she memorized and “read” to us.

This post contains affiliate links.