Lesson Plan

The Very Hungry Caterpillar: A Butterfly's Life Cycle

In this lesson, you will use “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” to teach students about the butterfly life cycle. After listening to the story read aloud, students will use their knowledge to create their own butterfly life cycles!
View aligned standards

In this science-based reading and writing lesson plan, first and second graders will explore a butterfly’s life cycle and related vocabulary with the help of Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Children are introduced to terms such as “butterfly,” “chrysalis,” and “caterpillar” and provided sentence stems to help them practice asking and answering questions about word meaning. After reading the story and practicing retelling the events, learners will be ready to illustrate the life cycle of a butterfly and summarize the process using their new vocabulary words.

Learning Objectives

  • Students will be able to identify the four life stages of a butterfly.
  • Students will be able to ask and answer questions to help determine or clarify the meaning of words in a text.


(10 minutes)
Draw the Life Cycle of a Butterfly
  • Explain to the students that they will be listening to the story The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.
  • Show the students the cover of the book.
  • Ask the students what they think the book will be about by looking at the illustration on the cover and reading the title.
  • Call on a few students to offer their ideas.
  • Explain to the students that while you are reading, they should listen for the following words: butterfly, chrysalis, eggs, and caterpillar. Have them consider how these words relate to the story and the very hungry caterpillar.
  • Explain that a butterfly is a winged insect. The butterfly starts as an egg and then hatches to be a caterpillar, which looks like a worm that will eventually grow into a butterfly. The caterpillar turns into a chrysalis, which is like a small protective house.
  • Write the vocabulary words on the board (butterfly, chrysalis, and caterpillar).
  • Explain to the students that you also want them to think about what happens in the beginning of the story, the middle of the story, and the end of the story.