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Monarch Butterflies for Third Graders

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2 Monarch Butterflies for Third Graders
Josefa Vickey Palolo Elementary

3 Standards SC Pose a question and develop a hypothesis based on observations SC Compare distinct structures of living things that help them to survive SC Describe the relationship between structure and function in organisms LA Use oral language to obtain information, complete a task, and share ideas M Interpret data and state what the representation shows about the data

4 Introduction

5 Observations Students were reading a selection of books from the classroom library. A student who read a book about insects commented that caterpillars become butterflies. Another student said, “I have butterflies in my yard.” Another one said he did too. More discussion continued between the students about butterflies and caterpillars. I gathered the class together on the carpet and continued the discussion about butterflies as I wrote on chart paper under KWL.

6 After school when I got home I got a container and walked down the sidewalk to this milkweed plant near the road. I found 4 caterpillars. I took them to class the next morning and set the container on the table. As the students walked into the classroom, they noticed the container and walked over to see what was inside. They began talking and asking questions about the caterpillars, their size, shape, color, body parts and the food they eat.

7 How does a caterpillar become a butterfly?
Research Question How does a caterpillar become a butterfly?

8 Background Information

9 Nonfiction and fiction books about caterpillars and butterflies:
“Insects” by Alice Fields, “Where Butterflies Grow” by Joanne Ryder Helpful resources on the internet:

10 Hypothesis If you observe a caterpillar for several weeks then you will see the changes it goes through to become a butterfly because butterflies go through a life cycle.


12 Subjects Materials 4 Caterpillars
4 Caterpillars, 2 containers, moist milkweed leaves, twigs, nectar (juicy fruits), caterpillar and butterfly books, paper, pencils, markers, journal, chart paper and magnifying lenses.

13 Procedures Each morning observe what is happening with the caterpillars. Record in your daily journal what you see in the container. Illustrate your findings. Compare and contrast from day to day what stage each caterpillar is in. In your group share and discuss your writings and illustrations. Read several books and take notes as you research butterflies.

14 Use the internet to gather information about the stages of the caterpillar and butterfly.
In your groups write on chart paper under KWL what you learned about butterflies. Share with the class your findings. Draw the four stages of the butterfly life cycle and label it. Keep a folder of all your work. Make a graph of how long it took each caterpillar chrysalis to emerge into a butterfly.

15 Classroom Collaboration

16 Chrysalis

17 Chrysalis

18 See Through Chrysalis

19 Monarch

20 Monarch

21 Monarch

22 Observations

23 Observations

24 Observations

25 Observations

26 Attentive Listeners

27 Caterpillars

28 Team “Dragons” Work

29 What do we know now?

30 Team “Lion” Work

31 A Hard Working Team’s Work

32 A Butterfly Game

33 A Great Game! Butterfly Circle

34 Who Moves Next?

35 Some of our projects

36 Butterfly Projects

37 Projects

38 A Job Well Done!

39 Results

40 Graphing how long it takes to become a butterfly.

41 More Graphing Results

42 Stages of the life cycle
The Egg

43 Stages of the life cycle
The Larva

44 Stages of the life cycle
J - Form of the Larva

45 Stages of the life cycle

46 Stages of the life cycle
Another Chrysalis

47 Stages of the life cycle
See Through Chrysalis

48 Stages of the life cycle
Emerging from the Chrysalis

49 Stages of the life cycle
Exiting the Chrysalis

50 Stages of the life cycle
Completely outside the Chrysalis

51 Stages of the life cycle
Ready to Fly!

52 Discussions and Conclusions

53 If you observe caterpillars for several weeks then you will see metamorphosis take place because they change in the chrysalis into a butterfly. Female butterflies lay tiny eggs that in a few days hatch into larva (caterpillar). Then they eat a lot of milkweed leaves. They grow and shed their skin. They continue to grow to about 2inches. Then they make a silk web on the leaf or container and hang in a J form. Soon it is a cocoon (chrysalis). After about a week, it emerges into a beautiful butterfly.

54 Our results show that caterpillars become butterflies after being in a cocoon (chrysalis) for about 8-9 days. They go through a life-cycle called metamorphosis. Based on our results, we will retain our hypothesis. This study shows the changes that some insects/animals go through during their life cycle.

55 Next Step We will research to find other insects or animals that go through metamorphosis. We plan to study tadpoles and frogs. We will share our findings with our family and friends.


57 Reflections I will gather butterfly eggs or keep the butterflies until they lay eggs so the students see the entire life cycle in the classroom. I will have each caterpillar in its own container. I will label each container. The students will be able to label their results and illustrations in a more organized way.


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