Learn About The Life Cycle of a Butterfly with Kids

by Tonya Staab
Published: Updated:

Learn about the life cycle of a butterfly with a hatching kit, books, crafts, activities, and fun party treats for their release day.

Disclosure: This project has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Elmer’s by Collective Bias #gluenglitter #xtremeschoolglue

We have been studying the life cycle of butterflies over summer vacation. I like to have activities that are not only fun for the kids, but also educational. This one was fabulous.

Learn about the life cycle of a butterfly

Live butterfly garden hatching kit

We began by purchasing the Insect Lore Butterfly Garden from Amazon. Once it arrived, we mailed our $5 to Insect Lore for our caterpillars. The directions are very simple to follow.

We started by observing our caterpillars as they grew larger over just a few days. On day 5, we noticed that they were beginning to make their way to the top of the container and had attached themselves upside down to the lid. The next day they had changed into smaller hard chrysalides.

kids watching caterpillars turn into butterflies
Teach kids about the life cycle of a butterfly with a hatching kit.

Once all 5 caterpillars had transformed into chrysalides, I carefully removed the lid from the container. We peeled back the paper they were hanging from, and gently attached them to the inside of the mesh habitat, where after 7 days I woke one morning to find a single butterfly. Then the next day 4 more butterflies. 

using a butterfly hatching kit
Butterflies emerging from their chrysalides.

And don’t worry, that is not blood. That is called meconium. From the Insect Lore site: It’s the left-over color and unneeded tissues from the butterfly’s wing and body formation.”

butterflies that have hatched inside a butterfly hatching kit
Butterfly hatching activity to do with kids.

We went outside to the garden and collected some flowers to put into the bottom of the habitat. Then we mixed up 1 cup of water with 3 teaspoons of sugar and used the dropper that was included in the kit to add dew drops to the flowers and leaves. This is what the butterflies drink. I thought that we should observe them for another day before releasing them, but Marisol was insistent that we release them that same afternoon.

So, we took our butterflies out by our water fountain and released them.  It was such a wonderful experience to watch them one by one flying off into the sky.

kids releasing butterflies from a butterfly hatching kit
Releasing butterflies outdoors from a hatching kit.
butterflies after being released from a hatching kit

For the rest of the afternoon, we celebrated with our butterfly friends and did some fun activities together to learn more about them.

Butterfly party food

To celebrate the release of our butterflies, we had a party for them, complete with fun butterfly party food.

Butterfly fairy bread

butterfly fairy bread
Butterfly fairy bread

There was Butterfly Fairy Bread. Spread a small amount of butter down the center and dip bread in chocolate sprinkles. Then spread butter on the wings and dip those individually in rainbow sprinkles.

Butterfly cheese and crackers

butterfly cheese and crackers
Butterfly cheese and crackers

There were Butterfly Cheese Crackers – 2 butterfly crackers with cheese in the center. I used a sharp knife and the butterfly cracker as a template to cut the cheese.

Butterfly brownies

brownies with butterflies on top made out of jelly beans and twizzlers
Butterfly brownies

There were also Butterfly Brownies. I cut small strips of colored Twizzlers and sliced through those strips to make the antenna. Then using a little icing attached those to the brownies with two jelly beans for wings.

butterfly straws and party food
A butterfly party for spring.

For beverages, we enjoyed some orange juice.  We used a cookie cutter to cut out fun butterfly shapes from scraps of paper, punched a couple of holes in them, and threaded them over a bendy straw.

Butterfly activities

Have you made butterfly shadows with your kids?

a boy making a butterfly shadow in the sun
Butterfly shadow fun with kids.

Butterfly crafts

We also put together a project board about metamorphosis.

kids drawing flowers and making a caterpillar on a project board
a caterpillar made out of scrapbook paper circles
kids learning about metamorphosis

More butterfly crafts for kids

Here are some more caterpillar and butterfly crafts to do with the kids too:

Books about butterflies and caterpillars

Then we ended our butterfly day by reading stories outside on a picnic blanket under the flowers so we could look for more butterflies.

kids reading books about butterflies and caterpillars on a picnic blanket
  1. The Big Book of Bugs, by Ken Fin
  2. Percival the Plain Little Caterpillar, by Helen Brawley
  3. Casper the Caterpillar, by Hinkler Books
  4. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle
  5. From Caterpillar to Butterfly, by Deborah Heiligman
kids reading books about butterflies and caterpillars

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Tonya Staab July 27, 2011 - 4:53 pm

I so wanted to hang onto them for a day or two so the kids could see how the eat and what they do.  Miss M though is very set in her ways and couldn't wait to see them flying free.  Of course though now she misses them :).

Amy @ Dealusional July 27, 2011 - 4:48 pm

That is amazing, Tonya! It looks like the kids were mesmerized. We kept our butterflies a little longer, and they actually hung around our garden for quite a bit. Way cool!

Lolo July 28, 2011 - 1:09 am

This is wonderful, and I love the art project that you did with them.

It was great to be able to meet you at EVO! 🙂

Tonya Staab July 28, 2011 - 9:46 am

Honey, I miss you.  I'm so glad you are going to do this.  Melissa just did it too.  So fun.  Give those kids a hug from me please.

Bre July 28, 2011 - 9:17 am

What a fun project! I am so doing this with my crew. Payten would absolutely loooove it.

mom taxi julie July 28, 2011 - 9:57 am

Super adorable! We’ve brought in caterpillars we’ve found out in the yard and were lucky enough to have one make it to a butterfly (moth lol). I like how you guys read the books and the crafts and party 🙂

Tonya Staab July 29, 2011 - 12:00 pm

The kids spent yesterday looking for caterpillars because now they want to watch every caterpillar turn into a butterfly :). 


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