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  The Life Cycle of Butterflies (3rd Edition)
Grades 13
The Life Cycle of Butterflies unit introduces students to the concepts of life cycles by inviting them to investigate one organism—the painted lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui) for eight weeks. As students care for the caterpillars and butterflies, they observe, record, and describe in words and drawings the metamorphosis from caterpillar to chrysalis and from chrysalis to butterfly. In many cases, students will get to see a butterfly lay eggs. Some butterflies will die natural deaths, completing students’ observations of the life cycle. Through these investigations, students will understand that the term “cycle” implies continuity and that life cycles exist for all living organisms. This experience deepens their understanding of the diversity and complexity of life on earth.

Benefits of using this kit:

STC kits contain all of the materials you’ll need to teach the unit
STC Program Units focus on building scientific and engineering habits of mind utilizing science and engineering practices within every lesson
Supplemental literacy pieces in the Teacher’s Guide, STC Literacy Series™, and KIDS DISCOVER connect classroom content to the real world
2-use kits and refurbishment sets provide enough materials for a second non-concurrent use

Lesson-by-Lesson Summary

In the first eight lessons of this unit, students focus on the caterpillar and chrysalis stages of the Painted Lady butterfly’s life. Lesson 1 is a pre-unit assessment in which students discuss what they already know about caterpillars and butterflies. They draw a picture of what they think a caterpillar looks like and how it might change into a butterfly. In Lesson 2, they welcome the caterpillars to the classroom. Students prepare the caterpillars’ food, which consists of the leaves of Malva neglecta, the roundleaved mallow. They learn how to care for the butterflies and observe the caterpillars under a hand lens.

Lessons 3 through 6 provide continued opportunities for students to strengthen their observational and recording skills as they watch the caterpillars crawl, suspend themselves upside down, spin silk, eat, eliminate waste (frass), and molt. In Lesson 3, they explore what living things need to survive—food, air, shelter, space, and the appropriate temperature. As their caterpillars grow, in Lesson 4, students observe their structures and predict what will happen next. They label the major parts of the caterpillar’s body.

The caterpillars continue to change; in Lesson 5, students may notice, for example, that it has shed its skin. They compare the parts of a caterpillar and its growth pattern to their own. In Lesson 6, students observe and draw the silk threads that the caterpillar spins in its cup and learn how it uses the silk. (A Chinese Legend and The History of Silk, which appear in Section 4 of this guide, are read-aloud stories that may be used in conjunction with this lesson.)

Lesson 7 marks the transformation from caterpillar to chrysalis. Students see the characteristic J-shape the caterpillar assumes as it suspends itself from the top of its cup in preparation for this transformation. In Lesson 8, students use their hand lenses to observe the chrysalis. They note that it is changing, even during this apparently inactive stage.

In the next sequence of lessons—9 through 12—students study the adult butterfly. In Lesson 9, they observe its body parts and how they function. Next, in Lesson 10, they feed the butterflies and observe the action of the proboscis. In Lesson 11, students explore the parts of the butterfly’s body in greater detail and compare them to their own. In Lesson 12, students release their butterflies, an experience that helps them understand that butterflies are part of the natural environment. Some of the butterflies may die at some point during these lessons. This phenomenon offers a natural opportunity to help students begin to understand that death is part of the life cycle.

In Lessons 13, 14, and 15, students refine their understanding of the butterfly and of the life cycle. In Lesson 13, they review their data and answer questions about what they have observed. In Lesson 14, using their observations of one insect, the butterfly, as an example, students discover characteristics common to all insects. Finally, in Lesson 15, students broaden their understanding of the life cycle of the butterfly to include that of other plants and animals.

Lesson 16
, a post-unit assessment, is a follow-up to the class brainstorming session that took place during Lesson 1. Students revisit their class lists. They make suggestions for confirming, revising, expanding, or clarifying the observations on the lists. They offer evidence to back up any changes they believe should be made. This experience enables the teacher to document students’ progress and helps students realize how much they have learned about butterflies and the continuity of life.
The different stages of a butterfly’s life cycle are egg, larva, caterpillar, chrysalis, and adult.
Caterpillars need food, air, and space to live and grow.
The caterpillar forms a chrysalis, and a butterfly emerges from the chrysalis.
A butterfly needs food to live, but it does not grow after emerging from the chrysalis.
A butterfly lays eggs, which hatch into larvae.
Observing, describing, and recording growth and change in the larva.
Predicting, comparing, and discussing the larva’s appearance and change over time.
Communicating observations through drawing and writing.
Relating observations of the butterfly’s life cycle to students’ own growth and change.
Extending knowledge of butterflies through reading.
Developing an interest in studying insects.
Appreciating the needs of living things.
Valuing scientific information that has been collected over time.

The Life Cycle of Butterflies (3rd Edition) Downloads

The Life Cycle of Butterflies (2nd Edition) Downloads

In the 3rd Edition Kit:
Teacher’s Guide complete with planning guide, lesson instructions, unit overview with background information, assessment that includes formative and summative assessments, and sections on notebooking, literacy, and more. Each guide also includes a CD-ROM containing blackline masters, Spanish resources, and other teacher resources
15 Student Investigations Guides
8 STC Literacy Series™: The Life Cycle of Butterflies
Enough materials to teach a class of 30 students twice
Technology and Premium Content website access for teachers
24 issues of Butterflies KIDS DISCOVER
2nd Edition Kit Content

In the 2nd Edition Kit

Teacher’s Guide with lesson instructions, unit overview with background information, and sections on assessment, notebooking, literacy, and more

Enough materials to lead a class of 30 students through all lessons in the unit
Premium Content access for teachers
24 issues of Butterflies KIDS DISCOVER
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The Life Cycle of Butterflies (3rd Edition) 2-Use Kit
The 2-Use Kit comes with all of the materials needed for a second, non-concurrent use.
The Life Cycle of Butterflies Refurbishment Set
This set replenishes the consumable materials in the Unit Kit.
The Life Cycle of Butterflies Replacement Parts
We offer individual replacement parts for your Unit Kits.
The Life Cycle of Butterflies (STC Literacy Series), Pack of 8
The Life Cycle of Butterflies book introduces children to the concept of life cycles by inviting them to investigate one organism—the butterfly.
KIDS DISCOVER: Butterflies, Pack of 8
This KIDS DISCOVER magazine stimulates students' imaginations, connects science in the classroom to the real world, and makes learning fun!
Literacy Enhancement: Butterflies
Each Literacy Enhancement contains 24 KIDS DISCOVER readers and 30 student notebooks.



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