Science for Preschoolers – Caterpillars to Butterflies

I have been excited for my boys to be old enough to do some easy science projects. There are many fun science activities you can do with preschoolers. It’s hard to know where to start!

For our first science project I decided to let my boys watch caterpillars turn into butterflies. They were so excited! From the time the caterpillars came in the mail, to when we let our butterflies fly away, they were totally absorbed in the project every step of the way.

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You can order your own butterfly “kit” from Amazon. It’s called a Butterfly Pavilion.

When you order the butterfly pavilion, you will receive in the mail the habitat the cocoons will be placed in until they turn into butterflies. The “house” is made of see-through mesh with a clear plastic, zippered top and fabric handle.


This kit comes with the caterpillars. If you order this kit they send you all the accessories and they give you a voucher to order the caterpillars later. That kit makes a great gift idea.

Insect Lore Deluxe Butterfly Garden with 2 Live Cups of Caterpillars and Feeding Habitat KitInsect Lore Deluxe Butterfly Garden with 2 Live Cups of Caterpillars and Feeding Habitat KitInsect Lore Deluxe Butterfly Garden with 2 Live Cups of Caterpillars and Feeding Habitat KitInsect Lore Butterfly Growing Kit - With Voucher to Redeem Caterpillars LaterInsect Lore Butterfly Growing Kit – With Voucher to Redeem Caterpillars LaterInsect Lore Butterfly Growing Kit - With Voucher to Redeem Caterpillars Later

It takes several weeks for your caterpillars to arrive. They come in a small clear container, with 4-5 caterpillars in a container. The container has all the nutrients your caterpillars need to survive while they prepare their cocoons.

After they make their cocoons, you transfer them to the butterfly house. It takes 3-4 days for them to prepare their cocoons, and then about a week for them to turn into butterflies.

I think they promise you will get to see at least 3 caterpillars mature into beautiful butterflies. I am happy to report that all nine of our caterpillars turned into butterflies! Unfortunately, they came out of their cocoons at night so we didn’t get to see that part, but the boys were so excited to see their butterflies.

After everyone in the family had a chance to see them, the boys couldn’t wait to let their butterflies free (the butterflies only live for about two weeks). We took them out into the backyard and let them all go.

They flew off in all directions. The boys can’t wait to order more caterpillars and do it again. The butterfly house can be used over and over again. You just have to send away for more caterpillars. Here is the link to the refill kit.

My boys aren’t quite preschool age yet, so most of their participation in this science project was observation. They were very interested in the whole process and watched every step of the way.

We didn’t do a whole lot of in depth study of butterflies, because they just aren’t ready for that yet. I did, however, find some neat books that would make a great addition to this project. We will definitely be using them for resources next time.

Butterflies (Penguin Young Readers, Level 2)Butterflies (Penguin Young Readers, Level 2)Butterflies (Penguin Young Readers, Level 2)Insect Lore Butterfly Learning Toy - 4 Piece Set Shows Metamorphasis Of A ButterflyInsect Lore Butterfly Learning Toy – 4 Piece Set Shows Metamorphasis Of A ButterflyInsect Lore Butterfly Learning Toy - 4 Piece Set Shows Metamorphasis Of A ButterflyNational Geographic Readers: Caterpillar to ButterflyNational Geographic Readers: Caterpillar to ButterflyNational Geographic Readers: Caterpillar to ButterflyExplore My World ButterfliesExplore My World ButterfliesExplore My World Butterflies

 

For younger children (preschool), you can get a book called Butterflies, by Emily Neye. For a more in depth look at butterflies, and some fun butterfly activities, there is a book called Monarch Magic!: Butterfly Activities and Nature Discoveries, by Lynn Rosenblatt. I found this one at a nearby zoo, and it is full of great information and activities. I can’t wait until my boys are old enough to explore the activities further.

One of the best ways kid learn is through hands-on experiences such as these. It is so much fun watching nature at work, in your own home! You will find everyone in your home watching the progress of the caterpillars, as well anyone who happens to stop by!

Butterfly resources: The Life Cycle of a Butterfly by Bobbie Kalman and From Caterpillar to Butterfly by Deborah Heiligman

Like this article? You might also be interested in Learn about Plants with Preschoolers and this DIY worm farm.

Follow my preschool activities board on Pinterest.

Watch caterpillars transform themselves into butterflies. One of my favorite science activities for preschool and toddlers!

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1 Comment on "Science for Preschoolers – Caterpillars to Butterflies"


  1. I have been reading your article on caterpillars to butterflies, and thought you would be interested in receiving a correction.

    Generally, butterfly caterpillars do not form cocoons. It is moths that form cocoons. Butterflies (all expect one species) form a chrysalis.

    The difference is that a cocoon is where the prepupate caterpillar spins silk around itself. To form a chrysalis, the caterpillar’s skin splits, exposing the “insides” of the caterpillar which then hardens to form the chrysalis.

    I hope that’s helpful for you. Keep up the great work.

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