Life Cycles in Animals
A Teaching for Understanding Unit Plan
Life cycles are a just one means of growth. Metamorphosis is change in a
non-predictive way. All living things change as they grow. Some animals do not
look at all like their parents when they are born or hatched and they transform
only through a state of metamorphosis. Life cycles are apparent in all walks of
life around us.
1. Students will understand that all baby animals do not look like their parents.
2. Students will understand the sequence of the life cycle of a butterfly.
3. Students will appreciate that all living things have life cycles.
4. Students will understand that all living things change as they grow.
5. Students will understand that change can occur in a predictable pattern in
6. Students will appreciate that metamorphosis is one way in which change
1. Ask students to brainstorm what they know about caterpillars and
butterflies. Compare them using a Venn diagram on the SMARTBoard with
the accompanying file. (Comparing Caterpillars and Butterflies.doc)
2. Explain that a caterpillar is a baby butterfly.
3. Read “The Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle. Talk about the stages that
the caterpillar went through in the book. How long do they think this
took? Can we find out for sure? How?
4. Let students observe caterpillars that you have previously ordered. Ask
them to make observations and then record those observations in a
journal or use Kidspiration software to type a sentence and illustrate a
picture about their specimen. Have them also make predictions about
what the caterpillars will look like tomorrow.
5. Keep a whole-class journal with digital photographs taken once per day.
6. Continue with this for the next 12 -14 days, discussing the changes and
the predictions that students made.
7. After butterflies have emerged, have groups of students create models of
the different stages of the lifecycle of a butterfly with clay. Take digital
photographs and then enhance using Moviemaker to create an animated
sequence of the butterfly’s life cycle. Use the butterfly book template for a
storyboard that the children can complete before they complete their
1. Discuss what happened with the butterflies and guide students toward
understanding that caterpillars do not look like their parents.
2. Many animals do not. Can they name some? Introduce the word
metamorphosis and discuss what it actually means. What animals do they
think change via metamorphosis? Use worksheet along with SMARTBoard
to discuss concept. (C:\Documents and Settings\jwerth\Desktop\TfU
Lesson Plan\Metamorphosis Explanation.doc)
1. Ask students if they think frogs go through a metamorphosis.
2. Explain that a tadpole is a baby frog.
3. Repeat Phase 1 but with tadpoles and frogs.
4. Have students brainstorm and predict what they think will happen and
how long it will take. Document and note changes as life cycle of tadpole
1. Ask students how people are similar to the caterpillars and tadpoles. Do
people change in the same way? How about puppies or kittens? Do they
2. Have them bring in photos to document their life cycle so far. One picture
per year and help them to develop a timeline with Tom Snyder’s Timeliner
and attach their photos via scanning or glue!
3. Have students develop some additional entries on their timeline based
upon their predictions for their own lives.
1. Discuss how many people use the word “metamorphosis” to mean a kind
of “big” change. What kinds of big changes do they know about? Did they
go through any changes during the year?
2. After journaling, have students describe with words, recorded into
PowerPoint, some changes that they underwent during the year as
kindergartners. Have them also talk about what changes they hope to
come in first grade. Use photos from their first day and their last month to
create a slide show to share with their families.