Aren’t insects fascinating? It’s Spring time here in Australia. The flowers are blooming, and the earth is abuzz with new life. Butterflies are fluttering about again, snails and slugs leaving their slimy trails on the pavement. It’s the perfect time to learn about the life cycle of a butterfly!
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Key Vocabulary for Life Cycle of a Butterfly in Chinese
Egg 卵 luǎn
Larvae 幼虫/幼蟲 yòu chóng
Caterpillar 毛毛虫/毛毛蟲 máo mao chóng
Chrysalis 蛹 yǒng
Butterfly 蝴蝶 hú dié
Metamorphosis 变态/變態 biàn tài
Did you know that cocoons and crysalis are not interchangeable terms? Turns out Eric Carle wasn’t exactly right in The Very Hungry Caterpillar… Generally speaking, caterpillars do not build cocoons (茧/繭 jiǎn), it should really have been chrysalis (蛹 yǒng). Moths make cocoons. As Eric Carle explains in this post, poetry won over science when writing his book. However, when teaching your child about the stages of the butterfly, do use proper term Chrysalis (蛹 yǒng)!!
How I taught my children about the Life Cycle of a Butterfly, so you know these resources work!
I like to frame my lessons around books, and in this case, additional educational videos which are freely available on Youtube, to teach. It makes more sense to watch the metamorphosis of the butterfly on screen, then on a book.
We read the following Chinese and English books, and completed the life cycle of the butterfly worksheets together. Surprisingly, even my 3YO can identify the correct stages in the butterfly’s life cycle and say chrysalis in Chinese!
🤷♀️ If you are not quite sure how to teach your children, please read through the resources I have listed here, pick a few of the activities you would like to do with them. I have a sample lesson plan and a printable lesson plan template at the end to help you frame your homeschooling lesson plan.
Chinese Books about the life cycle of a butterfly
Written and illustrated by Eric Carle
ISBN (Simplified Chinese): 9787533256739
📚 For sale at Amazon, Taobao and JD.com.
ISBN (Traditional Chinese): 9789577620989
📚 For sale at books.tw.com
ISBN (English): 9780399226908
For sale at Amazon, Book Depository, and Apple Books (e-format).
We love this book. We love it so much we have the English and Chinese version of it. (And I dislike buying duplicate copies of books as it takes up precious shelf space. But this book is spectacularly special.) We follow the very hungry caterpillar, as it eats and grows and eventually changes into a beautiful butterfly. (This book is great for teaching about days of the week, food, and colours as well!)
ISBN (Simplified Chinese)：9787538594010
For sale at Amazon, Taobao and JD.com.
In this story, we meet an ugly little caterpillar on his metamorphosis journey to become a butterfly. Similar to the famous “Ugly Little Duckling” book, the little caterpillar is uncertain of himself and feels awkward and shy around the other creatures in the woods.
You can listen to the story book being read on Youtube.
Written by Darlene Freeman
Illustrated by Mike Maydak
Recommended age: 6 -9
We read this on the Epic! Reading App. It is a very detailed book that covers everything you need to know about the life cycle of the butterfly, its lifestyle, its dietary habits, its habitat, and its predators.
We borrowed this book from the National Library of Singapore. If you are Singaporean like me, we are very lucky to have free access to many excellent Chinese ebooks and audiobooks.
In this book, we observe the life of a Cabbage White Butterfly 白纹蝶 as it mates, lay eggs, and subsequently the life of that tiny larvae as it completes the cycle back into a full grown adult butterfly. I particularly like how there are both real pictures and illustrations. The real pictures were fascinating and clear in its explanation.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find this book on sale anywhere. If you want a concise and simple non-fiction explanation of the life cycle of the butterfly in Chinese, a similar book would be 毛毛虫变蝴蝶 (ISBN：9787550206656 作者：(美)海利格曼，(美)韦斯曼).
Written by Dianna Hutts Aston 作者：黛安娜・哈茨・阿斯頓
Illustrated by Sylvia Long 绘者： 希薇亞・隆
ISBN (Simplified Chinese): 9789865730499
📚 Available on Taobao.
ISBN (Traditional Chinese): 9789865730499
📚 Available on books.com.tw
ISBN (English): 9781452141244
📚 Available on Amazon and Book Depository.
Recommended age: 4-8
A gorgeously illustrated and informative book about all things butterfly. It’s akin to reading a little butterfly encyclopedia, with tonnes of facts within the beautiful pages.
Listen to the Chinese Youtube reading of this book.
English Books about the life cycle of a butterfly
These are the English books we have read on the topic. Sometimes, it is easier to find books in English, and we tend to read them on the Epic! book app, borrow them from the local libraries, or the Singapore National Library.
The Life Cycle of a Butterfly (Blastoff! Readers: Life Cycles)
Written by Colleen Sexton
ISBN (English) : 9781600143069
📚 Get your copy on Amazon, and Book Depository.
Recommended age: 4-8
We read this on Epic! Books. The Blastoff! Readers series is ideal for early primary readers, and amongst this non-fiction early readers, there are also books about common animals and scientific concepts.
If you don’t have the Epic! app, this e-book A Butterfly’s Life Cycle is similar and you can instantly download to read on your tablets.
Written by Bobbie Kalman.
Illustrated by Margaret Slater.
ISBN (English) : 9780778706809
📚 Get your copy on Amazon, and Book Depository.
Recommended age: 8-11
We also read this on Epic! Books. This book gives a more detailed and thorough description of butterflies as we read about the full life cycle of the Monarch Butterfly. There are also useful tips on how to create your own butterfly house, and raise your own butterflies, which you can very easily do with this butterfly home kit.
Written by Lauren Davidson.
ISBN (English) : 9781647398842
📚 Get your copy on Amazon, and Book Depository.
ASIN : B08VV7QMR4
Ebook format available on Amazon Kindle.
Recommended age: 6-9
This book is great for little scientific readers who wants to know the history of butterflies, on top of the usual information given in the non-fiction books on this topic.
It’s split into two parts. First part is the usual information about the butterfly, its life cycle, its anatomy. The second part gives you a closeup look at the common butterflies in your own backyard, so you can try and identify them too.
Videos to watch
For this topic of study, it may be more effective to use videos to teach. The metamorphosis is shown in time lapse, and frankly entrancing to look at. There are also a few educational videos on the topic.
艾米咕噜 Emmy & GooRoo Preschool Learning Cartoons video channel is awesome for its short and simple lessons!
This video is great for explaining the Life Cycle of a Butterfly in Chinese for elementary school students. It is a straightforward descriptive video of the life cycle of the butterfly, and the changes it undergoes. There are Chinese subtitles on the video itself which helps to explain the key vocabulary words for this lesson.
A non-fiction book reading of the stages of the butterfly.
This video is good for a description of the body parts of the butterfly.
Tell Butterflies and Moths Apart | Emmy&GooRoo Nature Class
Do you know how to explain the difference between a butterfly and a moth to your children? This video has a clear visual explanation!
Life Cycle of a Butterfly Chinese Activity Pack
After watching the video/reading the book, my children and I then used this life cycle of a butterfly worksheet to learn about the different stages in Chinese and English. There is a little fact sheet on the second page as well that summarises the key points of the life cycle.
We also learnt the key Chinese words through matching, word search and other fun worksheets in this pack.
In this activity pack, there are worksheets on:
- Life cycle of the butterfly interactive worksheet
- Draw and label the life cycle of the butterfly
- Sequence the stages
- Matching words to picture
- Butterfly body parts Fact Sheet
- Label butterfly body parts
- Butterfly vs Moth Fact Sheet
- Sorting butterfly vs moth
- Draw a symmetrical butterfly wing
- Butterfly maze
- Search and count worksheet
- Word maze
- Draw according to number
Pictures in the activity pack are realistic and clear. They are all eco-friendly and ink-saving, set against a white background. The pack even comes with an answer key, and is available in two versions: Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese.
Effortlessly teach the life cycle of the butterfly in Simplified Chinese or Traditional Chinese!
Make an interactive life cycle of the butterfly that clearly shows the 4 stages of the butterfly with realistic pictures. Children will learn the difference between a butterfly and a moth. With the factsheet, they will also learn the different body parts of the butterfly and is function. Plus much more fun and relevant teaching worksheets!!
Insect Egg Carton Craft
For a related fun insect craft, I had 4 big egg carton trays lying around (as a family of 5, we go through a lot of eggs!!) so I decided to make some egg carton insects with the kids! I got my easy peasy craft idea from Pink Stripey Socks.
If you are like me and love to incorporate play based learning into your homeschooling, do follow Mandarin Homeschool on Pinterest for more easy peasy ideas organised by themes!
For the Egg Carton insects, you will need:
- Egg carton
- Googly eggs
- Pipe cleaners
- *Optional: Glitter, feather, beads
For the sensory grass, you will need:
- Rice (Basmati rice works best, because it is longer)
- Green food colouring
- Ziplock bag
We then made our sensory rice grass to complete our insect landscape. I gave the kids some little scoops and they were happily scooping rice in and out of containers, flying their insects around for the afternoon. This is an amazingly simple craft that kept them busy for ages!
Finger Print Insects
Another sweet and easy craft we did was to make these cute finger print insects! We used this book as a guide for the insects 我用指印画世界 on the Ella Book App.
I even got Da Bao to label his insects in Chinese after drawing. Not too bad at all, right?
Colouring Sheets for insects
Super coloring is my go to website for free colouring sheets, and for this topic of study, you can find lots of colouring sheets for insects, to suit all ages. Da Bao liked the mindfulness-type colouring sheets, while Er Bao and Xiao Bao preferred the cuter ones.
How to draw a butterfly (simple)
How to draw a caterpillar (simple)
Make an origami butterfly that "flies"
Games and activities to teach about insects
Some additional fantastic teaching games and activities to add to your households to teach about insects.
Peel and stick the brightly coloured stickers on this butterfly stained glass decoration. It’s a beautiful addition to the house.
A cleverly designed Montessori Butterfly Life Cycle puzzle which builds up on the stages one by one.
A fun colourful magnetic bug set for toddlers. Kids will love to “fish” for the 10 different bugs in the set.
Realistic looking bugs in bigger (choke hazard considerate) sizes for young children to play and learn.
A nifty set to learn about the life cycles of 4 common insects: butterfly, bee, ladybird and cicada. Do note that these ones are smaller than the Learning Resource Jumbo Insects, so best used for children 3+.
Great for little explorers! All the tools you need to get out, explore and wonder. In this set, you will get a set of binoculars for kids, a magnifying glass, LED hand crank flashlight, whistle, compass and a kids hiking backpack.
A cute cooperative game for the whole family. Work together to get the bugs under the rug, before all the stink bugs come out!
For older children who can read, Top Trumps card games are excellent at teaching facts at play. (Confession:We have way too many Top Trumps at home!)
Simple Lesson Plans to teach the Life Cycle of the Butterfly
I am not going to assume that every homeschooler has a teaching background. Hence, I would like to share with you a very simple lesson plan that even a novice can follow.
The key components to a lesson plan are these:
- goal/learning objective
- learning task
You can click and download the sample lesson plan for the life cycle of a butterfly in Chinese on the image.
Rule of thumb is to let the learning objective guide your lesson plan. For example, if you would like to teach your child about the different stages,
- first, you can watch the video description of the life cycle in Chinese
- then ,create the life cycle of butterfly wheel
- lastly, discuss the changes in each stage of the life cycle.
If you like to get a blank template, it is free to download on the Mandarin Homeschool Freebie page.
And here you have it, all the awesome teaching ideas, resources and activities for you to teach your children about the life cycle of the butterfly.
Drop me a line if you are having any issues with the links, or need some help with your homeschooling plans.
Happy Teaching my friend!