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Caterpillars and Butterflies Preschool Theme


Watching the life cycle of caterpillars and butterflies is amazing--even more so for preschoolers!  Use this theme to teach concepts throughout your curriculum.  This theme is endless in the possible activities and adventures your preschoolers can participate in!

Where do I find them?

Caterpillar and Butterflies and their classroom homes can be purchased through Amazon.  Here are the two items I've used.

NO Caterpillars Included

Caterpillars Included


Let the Caterpillar and Butterflies Theme planning begin!


You can either scroll down through this page to see all of the preschool activities for your Caterpillars and Butterflies Theme or click the link below to go to the specific preschool lesson plan or activity type you are looking for.


Art Activities 

Block Area

Circle Time Activities 

Cooking Recipes

Dramatic Play Ideas 

Easel Ideas

Gross Motor Games 

 Library and Literacy

Math And Manipulatives

Music and Movement

Sand and Water Table 

Science Activities

Writing Activities 

Miscellaneous Ideas

Looking for a Bugs and Insects Theme?

Click here to go to the BUGS AND INSECTS Theme Page


Caterpillars and Butterflies Theme Art


Coffee Filter Butterflies

Materials Needed: Round, white coffee filters; pipe cleaners; markers; eye droppers; water

The children color the coffee filter. The more they color it the better!

They then drop water onto the filters. This will spread the color out and make some pretty remarkable looking color collages. When dry, pinch filter in the middle and wrap a piece of pipe cleaner on the pinched part.

VARIATION: Use the pinch type clothes pins instead of pipe cleaners. The children and add antennae and small googly eyes on these.

VARIATION #2: I've not tried this yet, but it was suggested to pre-pinch the coffee filters and instead of the children coloring them with markers, you provide to them a variety of cups with water and a large amount of food coloring (or liquid watercolor) for them to drop onto the filters.

Either variation will make many of your students want to make many of these butterflies! Encourage them to try using 2 primary colors only (like red and blue) and see the different types of purple that can be made when the water is added!


Egg Carton Caterpillars

Materials Needed: cardboard egg cartons (cut so that 3 cups are still connected in a row); pipe cleaners, googly eyes, glue, glitter, sequins, etc.

The children decorate their caterpillars any way they want to!

When the glue is dry, hang all of your caterpillars from the ceiling.

After a few days, before the children arrive, wrap each one with green tissue paper as a chrysalis!

Have the children make the coffee filter butterflies as above, but don't pinch the middles.

When those are dry, remove their caterpillars from the ceiling and have them add their coffee filter wings and some pipe cleaners as legs to make a butterfly!


Footer Flies

Materials Needed: variety of tempera paint in shallow trays, large paper, bare feet---WAIT, WAIT....DON'T BE AFRAID!

Yes, it's messy, but man it's fun! Have a child gently press his/her foot into a tray of paint or several trays!

Step onto the paper.

Wash that foot off. Repeat with the other foot!

When dry, cut around the footprints and let the children add butterfly bodies and antennae and legs with markers.

Because you do this one at a time, it is a great time to talk about left and right, colors and butterflies!


Bingo Dobber Caterpillars

Not much explaining needed! Have the children try to make caterpillar shapes by using these dobbers! Our children have also tried to "turn" those caterpillars into butterflies by stamping on some wings!

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Caterpillars and Butterflies Theme Block Center Ideas


Add plastic caterpillars and butterflies as well as green fabric for the children to make safe places for their butterflies!

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Caterpillars and Butterflies Theme Circle Time Ideas


Circle Time is such a great time for children to learn the social skills of being together as a large group AND to learn more about your Space Theme!

Things That Grow and Change

Materials Needed: Pictures of items that grow with two stages pictured. Some suggestions are:

Small plant, larger plant

A baby, a grown up

A baby bird and an adult bird

A kitten and a cat

A tadpole and a frog

a caterpillar and a butterfly

Use this activity to introduce the caterpillars and butterflies theme! Show the 2 pictures and ask the children to describe them (small and big, baby and mommy or daddy, etc.)

Explain that all living things grow and change. We all grow and change. We used to be babies, and NOW look at us! This used to be a baby plant, but now look how big!

Tell the children that you'll be watching a caterpillar as it grows and changes! Follow up with a fun butterfly story!


Life Cycle

Materials: Life Cycle of a butterfly picture cards. You can purchase these or make your own by printing and laminating pictures you find online.

Show the children each stage:

1. Egg Stage Adult butterfly lays tiny, little eggs on leaves.

2. Larva Stage The caterpillar hatches from the egg and then it eats and eats and eats.

3. Pupa Stage The caterpillar will hang upside down from a branch or from our butterfly house and turn into a chrysalis.

4. Adult Stage A beautiful butterfly!

Follow up with this song (sung to the tune of Pop Goes The Weasel):

I spin and spin my chrysalis (twirl finger around and around)

Then go to rest inside. (close fingers and let your twirling finger rest inside)

When I come out, I have changed A LOT! (Open fingers very slowly.)

LOOK! I'm a butterfly! (Fly hand away like a butterfly!).


Cooperative Story

Materials Needed: Paper and pen.

Once the children are familiar with the story The Very Hungry Caterpillar, talk about the ending. The caterpillar turned into a butterfly!

Ask the children what types of things they think that butterfly did! Start them off with "Now that I am a beautiful butterfly, I think I will...."

Give each child a turn to add to the story.

When done, type in print one copy for each child (with their name in parenthesis under the part of the story they added).

Read THEIR story to them the next day and tell them that they are going to be illustrators (explain what that is).

Tell them they need to create a book cover for the story!

Attach a copy of the story to each of their illustrations to take home.

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Snack Recipe Ideas to Cook Up for Your Caterpillars and Butterflies Theme!


Cooking with children helps develop their math skills and helps them to learn how to follow directions. It also allows for some great conversation! Ask many questions while cooking with your children to encourage conversation! Be sure to ask specific Space theme questions while making these fun snacks!


Yummy!

Have a taste test of all the foods in the Very Hungry Caterpillar book.

Make a chart with each food listed in a column on the left side. Make two more columns next to that one- one that says YES and one that says NO. Label the chart: Do we like what the Very Hungry Caterpillar Ate?

In advance, print each child's name as many times as the types of food you have listed on the chart.

As each child tries each food, ask if they like it. Then ask them to place one of their premade name tags under either YES or NO.

Review the chart over the next few days to discuss:

Which food did most children like? Dislike? Which has 3 names? Four?

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Caterpillars and Butterflies Theme Ideas to Transform Your Dramatic Play Area


Caterpillars and Butterflies

Materials A small white sheet (for the egg stage); Striped fabric (for the caterpillar); green fabric for the chrysalis stage and butterfly wings.

Have the children take turns being each stage. Ask "what happens next" etc. Have extra butterfly wings available so that the children can pretend to fly away together to have adventures!

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Caterpillars and Butterflies Theme Ideas for your Easel

--More Than Just Painting (Although that is always THE favorite in our classroom!) 


Butterfly Blot Paintings

Materials Needed: When children are done painting at the easel, show them how to fold the paper in half and press both sides together. When they open them, they will see their blotter painting that has mirror images...Beautiful Butterfly Wings!

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Caterpillars and Butterflies Theme Large Group Games that help build their muscles while they have fun together!


Fly Butterfly, Fly!

Materials: A large, laminated butterfly for each child (or plastic ones!); construction paper of various colors cut out into the shapes of flowers.

Give instructions to the children to learn directional words such as:

Fly and land ON the red flower.

Fly and rest UNDER the blue flower.

Make up as many as you can! The children can "fly" and get some exercise, learn colors and learn spatial relationships all at the same time!

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Caterpillars and Butterflies Theme Ideas for Your Library and Literacy Activities for your Preschool Classroom

Book Suggestions for the Library

The following books are available through Amazon by clicking on the title.

NON-FICTION

Face to Face with Caterpillars (Face to Face with Animals) by Darlyne Murawski

From Caterpillar to Butterfly (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science, Stage 1) by Deborah Heiligman

Monarch Butterflies: Mysterious Travelers by Bianca Lavies

Also:  Check with your local library to find which types of butterfies are native to your area and to find books on them!

FICTION

Caterpillar Spring, Butterfly Summer: 10th Anniversary Edition by Susan Hood

Charlie the Caterpillar by Dom Deluise

Clara Caterpillar by Pamela Duncan Edwards

The Crunching Munching Caterpillar (My First Storybook) by Sheridan Cain (Also available on CD!)

Butterfly Meadow #1: Dazzle's First Day by Olivia Moss

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle


Fingerplays

The Caterpillar

A caterpillar crawled to the top of a tree, (index finger of one hand moves like a caterpillar up your arm)

"I think I'll take a nap", said he.

so under a leaf, he began to creep (Wrap other hand over the caterpillar hand)

To spin its chrysalis and it fell asleep.

For many weeks it slept in its chrysalis bed, (Keep hand over fist)

Until one warm day when the sun came out and said,

"Wake up You sleepy head!

Time to get out of bed!" (Shake your hand so that your fist starts to come out of your hand!)

So, it opened its eyes that sun shiny day (Shake your fingers and then look into your hands)

And LOOK! It was a butterfly and flew away! (Make hands into butterfly wings and fly into the air).

Fuzzy Little Caterpillar

Fuzzy little caterpillar crawling on the ground (make a finger crawl on the floor).

Spin yourself a blanket and then go fast asleep (Twirl on finger around and around in circles then tuck that finger into your other hand).

Fuzzy little caterpillar wakes up by and by

Now you have two pretty wings. You're a butterfly! (Make butterfly fly away!)

Caterpillar

Little fuzzy caterpillar

In your warm cocoon

The long weeks are over and you'll be hatching soon.

Then you'll spread your wings

On a warm and pretty day

And wave us all goodbye

As you fly away!

Caterpillars

What do caterpillars do?

Nothing but chew and chew!

What do caterpillars know?

Nothing much but how to grow!

They just eat what, by and by,

Will make them become a butterfly.

But that is more than I can do

However much I chew and chew!

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Caterpillars and Butterflies Theme activities to help your Preschoolers develop their math skills and those small muscles in their hands!


Estimation Station

Materials: Bring in the types of food in the story The Very Hungry Caterpillar that have seeds (apples, pear, watermelon).

Ask the children how many seeds they think are in each? Write down their estimates.

Open the fruit and remove the seeds and put them in separate bowls and count the seeds!


File Folder Caterpillar Game

Materials: Manila file folder, markers, scissors

Inside the file folder, draw circles that are each touching so that they represent a caterpillar! Color each circle and then program each circle with a number.

Now, make circles of the same colors and program those with either the same numbers (for a matching game), or corresponding dots for a counting game.

You could also make a few that have upper case and lower case letters for use in your Library/Literacy area!


Matching Game

Materials: caterpillar and butterfly stickers; index cards

Make pairs of cards with matching stickers on them and laminate. The children can use these as a concentration/memory game or as a matching game.

VARIATION: Rather than stickers, find pairs of pictures (in magazines or online) to use for this game.

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Caterpillars and Butterflies Theme Music and Movement Activities and Ideas to get your Preschoolers Movin' and Groovin'!


The Butterfly Song

Found at Butterfly Song Website

If I were a butterfly, I'd thank you Lord for giving me wings.

if I were a robin in a tree, I'd thank you Lord that I could sing.

If I were a fish in the sea, I'd wiggle my tail and I'd giggle with glee.

But I just thank you father for making me, me.

For you gave me a heart and you gave me a smile

You gave me Jesus and you made me your child.

And I just thank you Father for making me, me.

If I were an elephant, I'd thank you Lord by raising my trunk.

If I were a kangaroo, you know I'd hop right up to you.

If I were an octopus, I'd thank you Lord for my fine looks.

But I just thank you Father for making me, me.

For you gave me a heart and you gave me a smile

You gave me Jesus and you made me your child.

And I just thank you Father for making me, me.

If I were a wiggle worm, I'd thank you Lord that I could squirm

if I were a fuzzy wuzzy bear, I'd thank you Lord for my fuzzy, wuzzy hair

If I were a crocodile, I'd thank you Lord for my great smile.

But I just thank you Father for making me, me

For you gave me a heart and you gave me a smile

You gave me Jesus and you made me your child.

And I just thank you Father for making me, me.


Caterpillars and Butterflies

sung to Three Blind Mice

Caterpillars. Caterpillars.

See how they crawl? See how they crawl?

They spin themselves in a chrysalis

And go through something called metamorphosis

It's a sight that you wouldn't want to miss!

When they become butterflies. When they become butterflies!


Life Cycle Movement Activity

Encourage the children to shape their bodies or move their bodies in a way that represent each stage of the life cycle for butterflies:

Be an egg!

Hatch from the egg!

Crawl around and munch on food like a caterpillar.

Hang from a branch and make a chrysalis.

Come out as a butterfly!


Majestic Monarchs

Play music while the children use dancing scarves or crepe paper to dance to the music as butterflies! Try changing up the tempo a bit by adding slow waltz music, fast upbeat music, jazz, etc.

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Caterpillars and Butterflies Theme Activities for the Senses!

Place sticks, twigs and grass in your sensory table. Add caterpillars and butterflies, butterfly nets and bug jars

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Caterpillars and Butterflies Theme Science Activities--for your Preschool Scientists in Training!

Check 'em Out!

Place magnifying glasses, small bug containers with plastic caterpillars and butterflies in them and several non-fiction caterpillar and butterfly books in your science center.


"Hatch" Butterflies, of Course!

Materials: Order caterpillars so that you and your children can watch the life cycle. There are many companies who sell these. Ask for references for local places from your local librarian!

Once your caterpillars form their chrysalis, make a paper chain with the children to count how many days it takes for them to become a caterpillar. Add a chain each day. This typically takes a couple of weeks.

Below are the links again to ordering from Amazon:

NO Caterpillars Included

Caterpillars Included


Straw Paper Caterpillars

Materials needed: straws with the white straw paper still on them, water, eye dropper, flat, shallow pan (like a cookie sheet).

Rip one end of the paper off the straw.

Place the unopened end of the straw on the cookie sheet.

Now, squish the paper all the way down to the bottom (you know, like you're opening the straw!)

Remove the straw.

Now the paper should look somewhat like a caterpillar!

Drop a few drops of water into the tunnel of the paper and IT WILL MOVE like a caterpillar!

It's pretty cool! Repeat as interested OR......provide one straw to each child for them to try at the science table!

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Writing Activity Ideas for Your Preschool Classroom's Caterpillars and Butterflies Theme!


Stencils and Pencils

Materials Needed: stencils of caterpillars and butterflies, sharpened colored pencils (or markers that fit in the stencils). Encourage the children to trace onto paper and color in and dictate stories about their tracings.

Ask questions such as: Where do you think this butterfly will go? What would it do there? Then what would it do? Does it have any friends? Are they also butterflies?


I Would Eat...

Caterpillars eat and eat and eat until they are ready to change into butterflies. Invite your children to draw the foods they would eat to become healthy butterflies!

Place a sign at the writing table that says: If I were a caterpillar, I would eat

Write down their stories as they draw and talk about this subject. When done, have them write their name on their creation and post it under the sign you made!

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Miscellaneous Activities for Your Preschool Classroom's Caterpillars and Butterflies Theme!Caterpillars and Butterflies 


Theme Field Trips


Butterfly Places

Many preschool teachers like to take their students to a local Butterfly Pavilion. I personally do not think this is a good idea. One of the rules of this place is that you are NOT to TOUCH the butterflies or hit them...ok, nuff said? This rule does not work out well with preschool children who have BUGS, as far as they are concerned, landing on them! I would recommend letting your students' parents know where there is a place so they can take a one on one field trip, but I would not do this as a group school situation.

You could, perhaps, see if this local place can bring the field trip to you!


Go Outside!

There is so much to see, just enjoy being outside where butterflies live, even if you don't see any!

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Looking for the Bugs and Insects Theme?

Click here to go to the BUGS AND INSECTS Theme Page


Go to the MAIN THEMES page from this Caterpillars and Butterflies Theme Page 


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