Butterfly Unit Study

“Putter-whys” (as my 2 year old calls them) have been the central theme in our homeschool preschool for the past several weeks. Despite having my kids tell me they were “tired of butterflies,” we’ve actually had a colorful, enjoyable experience studying these pretty creatures! Read on to learn more about the curriculum, resources, books, and activities we used for this Montessori inspired unit study following the outline of Gentle + Classical Preschool.

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Butterfly Unit Study Resources

Our Gentle + Classical Memory Board for the Butterfly Unit

Life, Abundantly Blog

Wilkinson Nest

Green Urban Mama

Steph Hathaway Designs

Fiddlesticks Kids

The Helpful Garden

The Hidden Way

Butterfly Unit Study Books

Butterfly Unit Study Activities

Butterfly Morning Time

We primarily use the Preschool Morning Binder by Life, Abundantly for our Charlotte Mason inspired Morning Time. I place the pages of the Morning Binder into a restaurant style menu. We always use the calendar, weather, emotions, and name writing pages — and then I fill the remainder of the menu with letter or number worksheets that relate to our unit study topic.

For this unit, we used my own Swallowtail Butterfly Anatomy & Handwriting Kit as the second half of our menus. The pages have very simple beginning tracing practice, which is perfect for my 3 year old just learning to recognize and copy letters.

Butterfly Color Sorting

Following GCP’s outline, the Math & Basic Skills focus for this unit was Colors. I included the colors from the previous unit as well, since we didn’t get to that subject last time. Our colors to study were red, blue, yellow, and green.

We used the lovely and comprehensive Basic Color Theory Unit Study from Steph Hathaway Designs to discuss primary colors and the formation of green by mixing blue and yellow. We looked at the Color Wheel and identified the colors.

To coordinate Basic Skills with Science, I arranged a Butterfly Sorting Activity for the kids. You can read all about it in this blog post!

Butterfly Playdough Mats

Is there anything quite so nice as freshly made playdough?? My kids are obsessed with it. I’ve discovered an easy, quick recipe to make my own playdough. I usually double the batch and save the extra for later. I love adding essential oils to the dough to add another sensory element! This batch had lavender essential oil.

I broke off four pieces of dough and then dyed them red, yellow, blue, and green. (A word to the wise… making red playdough is truly a nightmare and makes your countertops and hands look like a murder scene!)

Color Wheel and 3 Part Cards by Steph Hathaway Designs. Colors Art Journal by Green Urban Mama.

We discussed the colors, matching them to 3 Part Cards. My 2yo immediately began making “hot cross buns” on each color card — which is, of course, what one should do when sorting playdough by colors.

Butterfly outlines from A Year of Tales by Wilkinson Nest.

My 3yo was delighted by the butterfly outlines from A Year of Tales Unit 18. I am using this beautiful curriculum to supplement GCP, primarily for our Morning Time but also, like this, for expanded activities. My daughter instinctively (accidentally?) began creating playdough patterns on her butterfly outline which were symmetrical — and this fostered a perfect teachable moment to constructively introduce the concept of symmetry to her!

Butterfly Life Cycle Sequencing

We are big Steph Hathaway Designs fans here — and the Painted Lady Butterfly Unit Study does not disappoint! Besides the praiseworthy illustrations, her work often includes many easy-to-understand child-led activities.

The Butterfly Life Cycle Sequencing by Steph Hathaway Designs is pictured lower left. Click this photo for tags on other materials.

My kids loved the Butterfly Life Cycle Sequencing! I used Velcro dots for the pieces, and I hung the Sequencing activity on our main display board at kid-height. I loved hearing my son pause in his car play to ask, “Is it a putter-why? Is it, Mama? Can I pway wif it?”

Butterfly Symmetry Matching

This fun activity hails from The Helpful Garden. What’s not to love about these free, vivid photographs of many types of butterflies? The photos are designed to be cut in half for a puzzle/symmetry/matching activity.

However, I quickly discovered that this was too challenging for my littles. To differentiate, I printed a second set of photos but did not cut them in half, which made a set of photos for the kids to match butterfly halves and self-correct at the same time. For my 2yo, this was still a bit much, but my 3yo enjoyed it.

Butterfly Symmetry Puzzle

Fiddlesticks Kids has many creative educational games available, which is helps me so much because I’m not particularly interested in games myself — but my kids love them!

We used the Butterfly Symmetry Puzzle, similar to the concept in the above activity by The Helpful Garden but more advanced. As such, only my 3yo was interested, but she was fascinated and enjoyed thinking through the multiple ways a triangle if half-butterflies could match others.

Butterfly Coloring Pages

These sweet drawings of various butterflies and moths by The Hidden Way made lovely coloring pages. We all enjoyed them!

Raise a Caterpillar

Ok, this seems like the most obvious activity to do for a Butterfly Unit — but sadly, we failed. We did have s caterpillar earlier this year, which we found in our garden. I believe it was a type of moth rather than butterfly, but we so loved watching it crawl around and eat leaves!

We did make it a make-shift canning-jar terrarium with dirt, sticks, and leaves, etc., but ultimately we must have done something wrong. Although he burrowed into the dirt, he never emerged.

I hope that any attempts you have of raising a caterpillar into a butterfly will be much more successful!

What’s Next

Our next unit study will be Bees! Follow us on Instagram to keep up to date with our progress!