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Butterfly Life Cycle Activities for Preschoolers

Written by Debbie Brown | June 3, 2023

Teach your preschooler about the life cycle of a butterfly fun in a super fun way with these creative hands-on activities. Each of the different activities will give your little one first hand experience observing one of God’s most fascinating creatures as they explore caterpillars turning into butterflies.

a girl doing butterfly activities

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Butterfly Life Cycle Activities for Preschoolers

Life Cycle of a Butterfly Activities

Zoologists use the word metamorphosis to describe the change that takes place in a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. This process includes 4 stages – the egg, caterpillar (larva), chrysalis (pupa), and finally the adult butterfly.

You can download and print this life cycle of a butterfly printable to show your child different butterfly stages.

The butterfly lifecycle activities here follow along with the different stages you observe using a live butterfly kit. My favorite live butterfly kit is the Butterfly Garden from Insect Lore (United States except for Hawaii). There are no buttery eggs in this kit. It starts at the caterpillar stage.

This caterpillar to butterfly kit comes with everything you need :

  • step-by-step instruction pamphlet
  • a butterfly habitat
  • a butterfly feeder
  • a voucher for 5 Painted Lady Caterpillars
  • a certificate you can give your child for learning the four stages of the butterfly life cycl
  • a fun activity booklet (ages 4 -6)
Butterfly Garden

Butterfly Garden

The caterpillars can be ordered when temperatures in your area are between 55 and 85 degrees. They come in a see-through container with food so children can watch the little caterpillars as they eat and then attach themselves to the lid, during the chrysalis stage.

Of course, you can do the activities even if you aren’t using a butterfly kit with live caterpillars. Grab a few books about caterpillars and butterflies to go along with the activities.

1. Caterpillar Craft for Preschoolers

If you are using a butterfly garden you are probably starting in the caterpillar stage. As your child observes the caterpillars eating and crawling around their jar let them make their own caterpillar.

For this butterfly activity, your child will be making a caterpillar craft. Once this caterpillar craft is complete it will be used for several other butterfly life cycle activities.

You will need:

  • 7 pieces of colored card stock ( as an alternative you could glue colored construction paper to white card stock or poster board)
  • something to decorate with – paint, crayons, markers, etc
  • a cardboard wrapping paper tube or something similar
  • googly eyes (optional)

Step 1 Cut seven circles from construction paper and let your child decorate them with paint markers or crayons.

Step 2 Add eyes and a mouth to your caterpillar’s head

Step 3 Use a black pipe cleaner to shape and attach an antenna to the top of the caterpillar’s head. 

Step 4  Once the cardstock paper circles are decorated help your child glue/tape them onto the cardboard wrapping paper tube. 

2. Cocoon Stage of a Butterfly Activities

In the cocoon stage of a butterfly, (pupa stage) caterpillars form a chrysalis. For this activity, your child will be using the caterpillar craft they made in the first activity.

You will need:

brown/cream-colored wrapping paper, or brown package paper that comes in Amazon boxes the caterpillar craft your preschooler made earlier.

After about a week the caterpillars will climb to the lid, attach themselves, and form a “J’ shape.

Step 1 Once the caterpillars attach themselves to the lid, let your child hang the paper caterpillar they made, from the ceiling ( they’ll need your assistance of course – lol)

Step 2 After the live caterpillars become chrysalides let your child wrap the caterpillar they made into paper – you can use something like gift wrap paper or the brown package paper that comes in the Amazon boxes.

Step 3 Once your child wraps their caterpillar in the paper, reattach it to the ceiling.

Step 4 After a few days, the lid with the chrysalis is placed in the holding log inside the butterfly garden. When the butterflies come out of their chrysalises your child can feed them sugar water or fruit for a few days.

3. Easy Butterfly Craft

For this easy butterfly craft your preschooler will be making the wings to add to the caterpillar craft they made earlier.

You will need:

  • black poster board
  • orange and yellow paint
  • paintbrush and/or sponge
  • caterpillar craft your child made in the first activity

Step 1 Cut the poster board into the shape of butterfly wings.

Step 2 Let your child paint the wings with yellow and orange paint

Step 3 Help your child attach the caterpillar to the wings with glue or tape.

Release the Butterflies

After a few days of watching your butterflies let your child take them outside and release them. This would be a great way to involve the grandparents. invite them over to watch the butterflies fly away. Bye, bye beautiful butterfly.

A little girl watching butterflies fly away

Be sure to check out these fun science activities:


All the butterfly life cycle activities and most of the pictures in this article were shared by Heather Varner.

Heather is a wife to a country boy and mama to a sweet little girl. She is the owner and photographer at Heather Varner Photography, LLC. Be sure to visit her Etsy store Also, If you’re in the South Jersey area be sure to connect with her on Facebook, and Instagram.

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