Here’s a fun way to learn about the metamorphosis, or change, of a caterpillar into a butterfly. (The first, or egg, stage is not included here.)
You will need: one sheet each of green and brown construction paper, green crayon or pencil, glue, black felt marker, seven small brown craft pom-poms, short length of bendable wire, cotton ball, clothespins (spring type), and several colors of tissue paper.
A caterpillar has strong jaws and a big appetite. It grows so fast from eating leaves and other vegetation that it outgrows its skin and splits it several times before it becomes a pupa.
Cut leaf shape out of green construction paper, using half of 8 1/2″ x 11″ (21 cm. x 28 cm.) sheet. Then cut nibble shape out of top arch of leaf. For simulated caterpillar, glue pom-poms close together in a row on leaf, starting at nibble shape and working down (see illustration). With black felt marker, make two eyes on first pom-pom. Cut 1″ (2.5 cm.) piece of wire, poke it through first pom-pom, and bend ends upward to form antennae.
When a caterpillar reaches its full growth, it spins a silky substance and attaches itself to a leaf or twig. The pupa (already formed inside the caterpillar) splits and sheds the caterpillar skin. After the pupa is completely exposed to the air, a hard shell (chrysalis, or cocoon) encases its body to protect it during its sleep of several days or even several months.
Cut tree trunk shape with one or two branches from brown construction paper. Then cut out leaves from green construction paper and glue onto branches. Elongate cotton ball, and hang it from tree branch with dab of glue.
At a certain time after the butterfly is fully formed inside the pupa, it produces a fluid to loosen it from the cocoon. When the cocoon splits, the butterfly pushes its legs out first to help free the rest of its body. Hanging with its wings down, the butterfly flexes its muscles to pump air and blood to its body and wings. After about thirty minutes, the butterfly is completely dry and strong enough to flutter away.
Fold a piece of tissue paper in half, and cut out two B shapes, each a different color and one larger than the other. Unfold B shapes and place smaller one on top of larger one. Then pinch together in center and fit inside of clothespin. Make several butterflies, and clamp them to different objects—such as desks or curtains—around the house.