Insect Life Cycles – Background

When we watch a caterpillar spinning a cocoon, or a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis, we are witnessing a part of the remarkable life cycle of an insect. Insects live their lives in stages, changing form as they develop from egg to adult. In some, young and adult are so different, it is hard to believe they could be the same species. A caterpillar becomes a butterfly, a garden grub becomes a shiny beetle, a wingless creature crawling on the bottom of a pond becomes a dragonfly skimming above it. Is there a connection between insect life cycles and the incredible success of this group of animals?

Insects, members of the Class Insecta, have a hard outer skin or exoskeleton to which their muscles and tendons are attached, and that protects the soft organs inside their bodies. They grow by molting, splitting open and shedding the Continue reading Insect Life Cycles – Background

Insect Life Cycles – Activities

FOCUS: As insects develop from eggs to adult they undergo metamorphosis, their bodies changing dramatically as they mature. Most insects have complete metamorphosis with four distinct life stages including egg, larva, pupa and adult. Other insects have simple metamorphosis with only three stages, changing from egg to nymph to adult. These tiny animals must find partners to reproduce, and they use a variety of signals to find and attract mates.

Introduction: Ask the children if they’ve noticed any insect sounds outside. Why might crickets and grasshoppers be chirping at this time of year? Or, bring in a terrarium with some fresh grass and a few crickets to listen to their chirping firsthand. Be sure to release the crickets outside afterwards. Continue reading Insect Life Cycles – Activities

Insect Life Cycles – Puppet Show

Frequent Flyers

Characters: Grasshopper egg, grasshopper nymph, grasshopper adult, Monarch egg, Monarch caterpillar, Monarch chrysalis, Monarch butterfly

Props: Grass plant with egg, cotton balls on toothpicks for eggs, sign saying “Weeks Later”.

Grasshopper Egg  Oh me, oh my. I’m just a tiny egg in a big, dark, underground world.  I’m ready for a change.

Monarch Egg  I’m just a tiny egg in a big, bright sunny world. I’m ready for a change too. Continue reading Insect Life Cycles – Puppet Show

Insect Life Cycles – Standards


The activities in this unit help children understand the basic concepts in the Disciplinary Core Ideas listed here. You can use the following list as a guide for lesson planning. These Disciplinary Core Ideas are taken from Grade Band Endpoints in A Framework for K-12 Science Education. Additionally, our activities give children opportunities to engage in many of the Science and Engineering Practices and reflect on the Crosscutting Concepts as identified in the Next Generation Science Standards. Continue reading Insect Life Cycles – Standards