Butterfly Lesson
computer exercisesuggested grade levels: 4- 6
view Idaho achievement standards for this lesson

Idaho is home to 168 species of butterflies. They are an important part of our many habitats. Be sure to discuss with your class the importance of butterflies and their role in the pollination of plants. Have an example butterfly for class to use as a demonstration when talking about butterflies. The outline below presents a good way to introduce butterflies to your students.

1. Students will learn how to use the Digital Atlas of Idaho.
2. Students will write a report regarding information on their assigned species.
3. Students will present their reports to the class.

Begin this exercise with a discussion on butterfly biology. You may wish to follow the outline below as you discuss this with your students.

  1. Introduction to butterflies
    a. Point out and discuss the body parts (head, thorax, abdomen, wings, etc.) on a butterfly.
    b. What are the characteristics that distinguish them from other forms of life? (Ask for student input)
  2. Introduce developmental cycle of butterflies: eggs, caterpillars, pupae, and adult.
  3. Define metamorphosis to the class and give examples: Complete metamorphosis Incomplete metamorphosis
  4. Discuss diet of butterflies at different stages of their development. Caterpillars eat leaves and plant matter while adults feed on nectar
  5. Assign each student a species of butterfly native to Idaho or you may want students to pick their own species. Ask students what species they pick so you can guide them to each do different species.
  6. Encourage your students to use the butterfly section of the Digital Atlas of Idaho to do research on their species. Teachers should give some class time for students to do this research so teachers can help the students as needed. Follow the links to the butterfly pages. The report could include species characteristics, habitat, diet, and basic ecology. The grade level and the teacher should determine the length of the report To get there: Click on Atlas Home, mouse-over Biology, then click on Butterflies.
  7. Each student will give a "show and tell" presentation to the class on his or her species of butterfly.

Handouts/Activity links:
These are links to access the handouts and printable materials.

Related Lesson Topics:
Biology: Butterflies
Biology: Biology

Lesson plan by James Scannell and Stefan Sommer, 2001
Idaho Achievement Standards (as of 7/2001) met by completing this activity: