Insect Learning Center

Objectives

  • Students will practice their reading skills by readingThe Very Hungry Caterpillar.
  • Students will learn about the lifecycle of a butterfly, including metamorphosis.
  • Students will understand the purpose of metamorphosis for insects.
  • Students will reinforce these lessons using a creative outlet.

Materials

  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar. by Eric Carle
  • Construction paper of multiple colors
  • Marker or colored pencils
  • Elmer’s Glue
  • Safety scissors
  • Two small piper cleaners per student

Procedures

  1. Present The Very Hungry Caterpillar to your students. Before explaining any background information, ask them what context clues they observe from the cover of the book
  2. Read the title of the book and ask the students what they know about caterpillars and butterflies. After a few minutes of discussion, explain what the book is about. Here’s a quick introduction:

    The Very Hungry Caterpillar follows the life cycle of a caterpillar who hatches from an egg and eats nearly everything in site! The caterpillar eats, eats, and eats until he’s become a big caterpillar with a full belly. The caterpillar begins to build a pupa around itself and eventually breaks free from the cocoon to emerge as an elegant butterfly.
  3. Read the book aloud in class and allow the students to take turns reading passages in the book.
  4. Ask students to describe the changes that the caterpillar is going through at each stage of the metamorphosis.
  5. Finish reading the book and begin distributing materials for the class activity.

Class Activity

Making Caterpillars

  1. First, pass out all materials that each student needs to complete the task. Encourage the students to politely share with each other if necessary.
  2. Direct each student to choose a single full page of construction paper. This page will be used as the background for their caterpillar.
  3. Instruct students to choose three more pieces of paper of different colors. These may be full sheets or half-sheets as they will be used for the circles that make up the caterpillar’s body.
  4. Tell the students to begin by drawing four circles on these pieces of paper that are of equal size. Have the students draw one additional circle that is bigger than the rest.
  5. Have each student cut out the four shapes and paste them on their background paper in a line using glue. Then glue the large circle at one end of the line of circles. This forms the body and head of the caterpillar.
  6. Instruct the students to set their background paper with the five circles glued on to the side for drying. In the meantime, inform the students what they have just created so they have a better understanding of the project as a whole.
  7. Ask the students to draw legs on the background paper stemming from the body of the caterpillar.
  8. Have students glue two small pieces of pipe cleaner to the head of the caterpillar to represent tentacles.
  9. Have students draw the face on the caterpillar however they’d like!
  10. Direct students to add in all of the missing details, including caterpillar’s setae, which resemble little hairs, and spiracles, which resemble small circles on the body.
  11. For the final step, have students use the colored pencils or markers to create a beautiful natural environment on the background paper. Encourage them to think outside the box to create an environment that caterpillars would thrive in.
  12. Ending this lesson, explain the next stages of the caterpillar’s development including the formation of the pupa and emergence of the butterfly.

Vocabulary

Caterpillar – The elongated wormlike larva of a butterfly or moth.

Setae – An intermediate stage of a metamorphic insect (such as a bee, moth, or beetle) that occurs between the larva and the imago, is usually enclosed in a cocoon or protective covering, and undergoes internal changes.

Setae – A slender usually rigid or bristly and springy organ or part of an animal or plant.

Spiracles – An external tracheal aperture of a terrestrial arthropod that, in an insect, is usually one of a series of small apertures located along each side of the thorax and abdomen

Thoracic Legs – Legs located in the frontal portion of the caterpillar called the Thorax.

Abdominal Legs – Legs located in the rear portion of the caterpillar called the Abdomen.

Metamorphosis – A typically marked and abrupt developmental change in the form or structure of an animal (such as a butterfly or a frog) occurring subsequent to birth or hatching

Educational Books

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Backyard Insects by Ronald Good & Millicent E. Selsam

The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle

The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle

Bugs! Bugs! Bugs! by Bob Barner

The Bug Book by Sue Fliess