Life cycles are so fun to explore with young, curious learners! It feels like a grand reveal when you show them a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis! This multi-sensory stages of a butterfly life cycle craft really brings the process to life and helps kids remember it. I love that it requires simple materials that you probably already having lying around. And I love that you can adapt the life cycle of a butterfly for kids craft into ANY life cycle you might be studying! Imagine all the comparing and contrasting possibilities.

Life cycle of a butterfly paper plate activity for kids.

Recommended Grade Level:

Life Cycle of a Butterfly Craft Supplies:

  • Paper Plate
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Marker
  • Pasta: Shell, Rotini, Farfalle
  • Rice
  • Ruler

Find even more engaging activities in the Life Over C’s shop!

Learning the Life Cycle of a Butterfly in Preschool



Life cycle projects help children connect with nature, and they help them understand the world around them.

This life cycle of a butterfly preschool activity is a great hands-on way to explore how a butterfly comes into the world. Since kids are already familiar with butterflies and typically have background knowledge, learning specific information about how a young butterfly becomes an adult butterfly is fascinating and real to students.

The life cycle stages included in these play dough mats are eggs, caterpillar, chrysalis, and butterfly.

I like to use this butterfly project at the end of the unit to review what we learned, to practice the vocabulary, and to have a final finished product to refer to as we study other plants, animals, and insect.

In addition to learning about butterfly eggs and chrysalis, you can pose additional questions to young learners. Depending on the species of butterflies you study, there could be additional questions for thought:

  • How do caterpillars change as they develop?
  • What does the caterpillar need inside the chrysalis?
  • What is it called when an animal/insect changes throughout its development?
  • Will the butterfly grow more when it comes out of the chrysalis?

What Can Preschoolers Learn While Making a Paper Plate Butterfly Life Cycle Craft?



You can use vocabulary and processes on the paper plate craft to compare/contrast with other animals, plants, or insects.

  • Metamorphosis
  • Egg/larva/pupa/adult
  • Grow/change
  • Germination
Supplies for the life cycle of a butterfly craft.

Why Is It Important For Kids To Learn About Life Cycles?

Children are naturally curious about everything around them. Learning about living things help them understand the world a little bit better.

Background Knowledge

Learning about life cycles is really the first step toward more complex science concepts, like the scientific process.

Connect with Nature

The more children know and understand about the natural world, the more they will connect and understand to natural surroundings.

Understand Cycles

Many things in our world are cyclical: life, seasons, and weather are a few examples. Understanding basic life cycles gives kids knowledge of general cycles.

Make Connections

Learning different life cycles, from plants to animals and insects, helps kids make deeper connections among them and relate it to themselves.

How To Use Make the Butterfly Life Cycle Paper Plate Craft

How to Make This Paper Plate Craft

Step One:

Use a ruler and a black marker to divide a paper plate into four equal parts. You might want to do this part in advance.

Use a ruler and a Sharpie to divide the paper plate into four sections.

Step Two:

Create each stage with the children. First, cut a small green leaf and glue it to one section of the plate. Next, add a few grains of rice to symbolize the caterpillar eggs.

A green leaf to represent the first stage of a butterfly life cycle.

Step Three:

Next, make the caterpillar sitting on a branch by cutting out a small twig and leaf and adding a spiral piece of pasta.

A branch and a curly noodle to represent the second stage of the life cycle.

Step Four:

Make the chrysalis hanging off a branch with brown construction paper and one shell pasta.

A branch and a noodle to represent the caterpillar in a chrysalis.

Step Five:

Finally, glue a piece of bowtie pasta to the fourth quadrant to symbolize the hatched butterfly.

Completed craft showing all four stages of a butterfly life cycle.

Step Six:

Now you can go back and label each section, drawing an arrow to the next step in the cycle. Alternatively, you can have the labels and arrows ready before the students create the life cycle steps. Or, you can print labels for students to glue on.

Butterfly Crafts

Butterfly crafts are a colorful way to display the final result of the life cycle. Use died coffee filters and pipe cleaners, tissue paper, or watercolors to learn about color, symmetry, or traits.

Create a Book

Make a life cycle book with half sheets of paper and child illustrations/labels of each step in the life cycle of a butterfly.

Picture Matching

Give your child real-life life cycle pictures for butterflies and see if they can match them to these play dough life cycle cards.

Sensory Bin

Talk about the life cycle stages of a butterfly and work on fine motor skills as you play in a butterfly themed sensory bin.

Have a Snack

A butterfly-themed snack is a great way to please hungry kiddos while still reviewing important concepts and vocabulary!

Play a Game

Continue learning about butterfly life cycles with a fun board game designed to engage and teach the stages of a butterfly’s life.

author avatar
Kim Staten Owner and Curriculum Designer
Kim Staten is a mother of four children ages 20, 19, 16, and 12. Kim has taught at the preschool, kindergarten and early elementary levels for 16 years. With extensive experience working with special needs children, including her own children with special needs (Rett Syndrome, autism, anxiety, and ADHD), she creates hands-on curricula and activities that are great for working with children of all abilities in the classroom and at home. Hands-on, accessible activities are her passion. 

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