Science Lesson Plans

Science Lesson Plans for Butterfly Life Cycle - Lesson 1

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Teacher Lesson Plans
"Life Cycle of a Butterfly" Unit - Four Lessons


Lesson 1 - Monarch Egg

Grade Level

Elementary Lesson Plans, grades K-3

Concept/Topic Overview

Students learn about Butterfly Stages of the Monarch Butterfly Life Cycle.

Science Standards Addressed

  • Kindergarten Lesson Plans - LIFE SCIENCE - Organisms - Living and non-living things, compare and contrast, simple groups for living things.
  • First Grade Lesson Plans - LIFE SCIENCE - Organisms - Observe and describe life cycles (how things grow and change).
  • 2nd Grade Lesson Plans - LIFE SCIENCE - Organisms - Recognize and describe life cycles.
  • 3rd Grade Lesson Plans - LIFE SCIENCE - Organisms - Recognize and describe structures of living thing that serve specific purpose in growth, survival and reproduction.
Above are the basic science standards addressed in these Science Lesson Plans. More science, math and art standards could also be covered in this Unit.

Objectives - Butterfly Lesson Plans

  • Learn why and where a butterfly lays eggs.
  • Learn how they know what is the host plant.
  • Discover how many eggs Monarch Butterflies lay in their lifetime.
  • Learn how many of these actually hatch into caterpillars.
  • Discover how many days it takes to go from the first stage until it hatches into a caterpillar.

Anticipatory Set - - Science Lesson Plans

  • Read Monarch Butterfly (Welcome Books) - Edana Eckart or similiar.
  • Talk to students about the terms:
    • Living and Non-living Organisms
    • Life Cycle.

Resources - Science Lesson Plans

  • Butterfly photos of the Monarch life cycle stages
  • The Life Cycle of Butterflies by Judy Burris and Wayne Richards - Excellent book with over 400 beautiful photographs!
  • Monarch Butterfly (Welcome Books) - Edana Eckart

Materials - Science Lesson Plans

  • Construction Paper, markers, crayons, sissors Optional: candy sprinkles,M&Ms

Introduction - Science Lesson Plans

We will be learning about the first of the Monarch Butterfly Stages - the Monarch Egg. The female Monarch Butterfly lays eggs on special plants. Let’s explore this amazing journey with a lesson on Why, Where and How the Monarch Butterfly lays its eggs.


  • Why does the Monarch butterfly lay eggs?
    • Life Cycle – All living organisms (plants, animals, insects and forms of life) have life cycles to keep the species going.
      • Ask the students to give examples of the life cycle of a plant.
        • Seed, Seedling, Plant

  • Where do the Monarch Butterflies lay their eggs?
    • On special plants that are called host plants.
      • Why do they lay their eggs on these "host plants"?
        • These plants are the Caterpillar Food. Example: the Monarch Butterfly lays it’s eggs on Milkweed because that is what the Monarch Caterpillar eats.

  • How do they know which plant is the host plant ?
    • The butterfly smells with their antennae as she is flying over the plants and when they land on the plant they can “taste” with their feet which have taste organs.

  • How many eggs does a female Monarch Butterfly lay in its lifetime?
    • Approximately 500 eggs.
    • There are some other kinds of butterflies that lay up to 1600 eggs!!

  • How does the egg stick to the leaf?
    • There is a glue like covering on the egg that holds it to the leaf then hardens.

  • How many out of the 500 eggs actually hatch into caterpillars?
    • Only about 5 or so, which is about 1% or 1 out of 100.

  • What happens to the rest of the eggs?
    • Spiders and insects eat them, they get crushed or disease kills them.

  • How big is the Monarch Egg?
    • About as big as a tiny round candy sprinkle (the kind you use to decorate Christmas cookies).....You might want to bring some into class to show them.

  • How many days does it take for the egg to hatch into a caterpillar?
    • 3 – 10 days.

  • Why do you think the eggs might hatch faster?…..HINT: Remember it is outdoors.
    • Warmer temperatures make the eggs hatch faster.

  • How do you know that the egg is going to hatch? Does it look different?
    • Yes, it changes….a tiny black (caterpillar head) appears. The caterpillar will soon hatch.

Elementary Science Lesson Plans

    • Have the students draw a picture of something they learned about the first stage of the Monarch Butterfly Life Cycle? Have them share with the class what their picture represents.

    • Show the number 100 somehow – i.e. 100 M&Ms, 100 candy sprinkles (hard to count, but about the actual size of the Monarch egg), 100 tally marks on the board, 100 circles on the board. Ask the students if someone can show how many out of the 100 actually hatch into a Monarch Caterpillar. (They should remove all but one of the items, marks, circles, etc.)
    • Create a time line on the blackboard that shows the Monarch Butterfly Life Cycle starting with the female Butterfly laying an egg, adding each stage as you study it.

    • Have the students do a “Virtual Butterfly” project by representing the egg on a piece of construction paper by cutting out, drawing it, etc. As you teach each of the these Butterfly Lessons they add that Butterfly Stage to their project. It takes about a month for an egg to turn into a butterfly. Teach the four lessons over the month, correlating with the Monarch Butterfly Life Cycle timetable.


  • Review Monarch Egg stage and tell them that in next week's lesson they will be learning about the Monarch Cateripillar.

Assessment of Learning

  • Informally assess the the student's progress through their input during the lesson discussion and observations of their Art, Math and Virtual Butterfly projects.

I hope these Free Lesson Plans are helpful in getting your students excited about science, nature, and the beautiful Monarch Butterfly.

My new Monarch Life Cycle PowerPoint is the perfect complement to these butterfly lesson plans.

Check out Kindergarten, Bulletin Board and Preschool pages for other classroom ideas.

Make sure and give the parents of your students a link to this website so they can share the wonderful experience of Raising Butterflies with their kids at home this summer.

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