Life Cycle of a Butterfly Lesson Plan

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Add some excitement to your instruction on the life cycle of the butterfly with the help of a text lesson and engaging in-class activity. Suggestions for supplementary activities and related lessons are also included.

Learning Objectives:

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • name the stages of the life cycle of the butterfly
  • create a timeline illustrating the stages of the butterfly life cycle


30 minutes to 1 hour


  • A globe or map of the world
  • Plain white paper
  • Colored pencils

Key Vocabulary

  • Egg
  • Larva
  • Pupa
  • Adult
  • Reproductive diapause

Curriculum Standards


Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 6-8 texts and topics.


Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table).


  • Have students read the text lesson Monarch Butterfly: Migration, Life Cycle & Facts.
  • As the students are reading, write the following terms on the board:
    • EGG
    • LARVA
    • PUPA
    • ADULT
  • Now, ask the students to use the globe or map to locate Mexico. Once they have found Mexico, have them identify northern and central Mexico. Then, move along the globe or map to trace the migration of the monarch butterfly, starting at northern and central Mexico, up north to northern USA and southern Canada, and then back south to northern and central Mexico. Explain that, while not all butterflies migrate in this way, they do have similar life cycles.


  • Direct the students' attention to the board and briefly discuss the four life stages of the monarch butterfly: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.
  • Have the students create a timeline, using colored pencils and paper, to illustrate the lifespan of the butterfly. For each stage, students should include a sketch of what the butterfly looks like at that time. Students should also write down behaviors and activity of the butterfly at each stage.


  • Provide students with local butterfly eggs and a habitat to allow them to observe the life cycle of the butterfly. When the butterflies have matured, have students release them into the wild.
  • Take the class on a virtual field trip to one of the many online butterfly gardens.
  • Have students research one type of butterfly, write a report on it, and present the report to the class.

Related Lessons

Looking for more resources? Science worksheets let students practice concepts while you check for understanding.

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