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! The Life Cycle of a Butterfly Sensory Bin for Preschoolers allows kids hands-on, exploratory play to practice vocabulary and learn how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. I love that it requires simple materials that you probably already having lying around. Throw this spring sensory bin together in minutes, and watch while your students reap the many benefits of sensory bins on any topic.

Life cycle of a butterfly activity for sensory development.

Recommended Grade Level:

Butterfly Sensory Bin Supplies:

  • Sensory Bin
  • Dry Rice
  • Rotini Pasta
  • Shell Pasta
  • Bowtie Pasta
  • Butterfly Toys
  • Caterpillar Toys
  • Faux Leaves
  • Small Sticks

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

Learning the Life Cycle of a Butterfly in Preschool

LIFE CYCLE OF A BUTTERFLY ACTIVITIES FOR PRESCHOOL

REGARDLESS OF THE ANIMAL, PLANT, OR INSECT, LIFE CYCLES ARE A GREAT WAY TO INTRODUCE TODDLERS AND PRESCHOOLERS TO NEW VOCABULARY WORDS AND CYCLICAL PROCESSES.

Life cycle sensory exploration helps children connect with nature, and they provide a calming activity to help them understand the world around them.

A rice sensory bin in your life cycle of a butterfly lesson plan helps engage students in tactile ways that ultimately fuel brain connections. Playing with a sensory bin 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 of a butterfly include egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, and butterfly.

I like to introduce the butterfly sensory bin idea at the beginning of the unit to allow kids to just explore through sensory play while we learn the vocabulary and life cycle process.

In addition to learning the specific stages in the life cycle of a butterfly, kids can think about:

  • How do caterpillars change as they develop?
  • Where might we find butterfly eggs?
  • What are the 4 stages of a butterfly life cycle?
  • How does a monarch butterfly find a mate?
  • How long is the life cycle of a butterfly?
Playing with items in the butterfly sensory bin.

What Can Preschoolers Learn While Exploring a Butterfly Sensory Bin?

HOW TO TEACH THE LIFE CYCLE OF A BUTTERFLY THROUGH SENSORY PLAY

LEARNING ABOUT LIFE CYCLES IS A GREAT TIME TO INTRODUCE SCIENTIFIC VOCABULARY AND ENCOURAGE LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT.

You can use life cycle vocabulary to compare/contrast with other animals, plants, or insects.

  • Metamorphosis
  • Egg/larva/pupa/adult
  • Grow/change
  • Germination
Acting out the life cycle of a butterfly with items from the sensory bin.

Why Are Sensory Bins Important?

Children naturally explore with their senses from birth. Sensory play offers a lot of benefits that lay an important foundation for future learning and growth.

Nerve Connections

Wondering what sensory bins are good for? Sensory play has proven to create neurological connections that later serve memory, language, and problem-solving.

Language Development

Engaging with interesting textures and objects helps kids learn new vocabulary and practice language skills as they talk about what they are doing.

Calming

Coping skills are an important part of social-emotional development. Quiet, independent play at the sensory table promotes a way to calm down.

Creativity

When faced with a sensory bin, interesting items, and no further directions, kids learn to explore, try things, problem-solve and get creative.

How To Make a Sensory Bin Butterfly Themed

How to Make The Butterfly Sensory Bin

Materials:

  • Sensory Bin
  • Dry Rice
  • Rotini Pasta
  • Shell Pasta
  • Bowtie Pasta
  • Butterfly Toys
  • Caterpillar Toys
  • Faux Leaves
  • Small Sticks
Supplies to make the butterfly sensory bin.

Step One:

Add the rice and pasta to the sensory bin. OPTIONAL: Use food coloring to dye the “caterpillar” rotini pasta green.

Shell and spiral pasta added to the spring sesnroy bin.

Step Two:

Place the toys, leaves, and small sticks on top of the rice/pasta.

Sticks and leaves in the butterfly sensory bin.

Step Three:

Allow children to explore, create the life cycle, play, etc.

Playing with items in the butterfly sensory bin.

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 Art

Use the items from the sensory bin to create a textured version of a butterfly life cycle. Glue the different types of pasta, leaves, and sticks to a paper plate and cut out a paper caterpillar/butterfly.

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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