Caterpillars and Butterflies Preschool Theme

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

You'll find more themes to help you with your planning on my preschool themes page.

Caterpillars and Butterflies Preschool Theme

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.

This is the Butterfly Garden I've used.  NO caterpillars are included but you can add an additional fee when ordering for them to add caterpillars!

These are the caterpillars I've ordered for years!

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.

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 Butterfly activity for preschool

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!

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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

Caterpillar to Butterfly

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!

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!

Snack and taste testing idea for a Caterpillar and Butterfly preschool theme


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 pre-made 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!) 

Create a Butterfly 

Hang pictures of a variety of butterflies around the room and near the easel to encourage ideas for butterflies to paint!

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

Butterfly game for preschool

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.


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)

Monarch Butterflies: Mysterious Travelersby Bianca Lavies

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


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


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!)


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!


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!

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!

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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:

This is the Butterfly Garden I've used.  NO caterpillars are included but you can add an additional fee when ordering for them to add caterpillars!

These are the caterpillars I've ordered for years!

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?

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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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