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Butterflies from Scratch

By Danielle Marchand 4 weeks
Grades 1-3
English Language Arts,
Science and Technology,
  • Programming
  • Data
Tools & Languages

Key Coding Concepts

  • Algorithms
  • Sequences



A step-by-step set of operations to be performed to help solve a problem.



Identifying a series of steps necessary to complete a task.

Students observe the butterfly life cycle and items necessary for life, then create a Scratch representation of the life cycle.

Before the lesson…

  • Review Scratch - how to change/add pixels, background, movement
  • Purchase butterfly larvae and set up in the plastic cups (Note: The classroom set is better as it provides a larger amount of data)
  • Find the book “Butterfly Park” by Elly Mackay (or listen to Colleen Buck’s recording)

  1. Read the book “Butterfly Park” by Elly Mackay.

    Use the prompt “What do you notice?” when it comes to the park at the beginning and at the end of the story. This will prompt discussion around what the butterflies require to survive. Students can draw a picture or make a list (individually or as a group) around what butterflies need to survive and compare what people need to survive. Students can use drawings and sentences appropriate to their level of learning.

  2. Students observe the real caterpillars and measure growth over the next week while working on their Scratch images - small caterpillars growing into larger caterpillars. This data can be added to a shared Google Sheet with measurements happening daily or every other day. Students will be shown how to create a graph using technology and will be able to explore different types of graphs within the program with just their own data as well as the class-wide data.
  3. As students observe the caterpillars, they can use an observation journal (half sheets - half blank picture box, half lined) to record observations and write down what they see, what they think will happen next, and what they wonder.
  4. The caterpillars will form their chrysalids. These images can be captured and added to the Scratch projects.
  5. When the butterflies emerge, the photos can be added to Scratch and the students can work on the lifecycle representation. (Note: Our classroom keeps the butterflies captive a little bit longer so they mate and lay bright blue eggs. These eggs will hatch out and begin the cycle again, giving more information and options for images).

See the provided Assessment Checklist.

Science Assessment

Students are able to record through illustration and written expression the life cycle of a butterfly.

Here is a link to a simple rubric for the Stages of the Lifecycle of a Butterfly (it can be modified to fit the needs of your students).

Mathematics Assessment

Data collection & graphing

ICT Outcomes

PRODUCTIVITY: Are students able to use Scratch to create a program documenting a butterfly life cycle?

COMMUNICATION: Are students able to share and exchange information and collaborate with others?

RESEARCH, INNOVATION, PROBLEM-SOLVING, AND DECISION MAKING: Are students able to contribute field data entries or other records to a simple database or spreadsheet and, with teacher assistance, create charts or maps from the data?

Challenges & Modifications

  • For students who complete the Scratch activity with little difficulty and need more of a challenge:
    • Add more dynamic factors to the project - events, conditionals, and loops.
    • Create their own game. See the ‘Butterfly Life Cycle Game’ example
  • For students who need more support, including English Language Learners:
    • A set of stock photos can be used to upload to Scratch and the final product can have less dynamic factors. The final product can be as simple as an image with the life cycle on it.
    • This project can also utilize Scratch Jr. as students can create images of the butterfly as it goes through the life cycle.


  • Research a butterfly species and present information in a report, Google Slide, poster, etc.

Data and its Uses & Math

  • How can collecting data about caterpillars protect endangered butterflies?
  • Discuss the ‘Monarch Butterfly Population Drops by Nearly One-third (’ graph.

“Butterfly Park” by Ella Mackay

“Butterfly Park” by Ella Mackay - Read by Colleen Buck (YouTube, 2020)

Atlantic Canada Science Curriculum Grade 2

Getting Started with Scratch:

Examples of student Scratch projects:

Stages of the Lifecycle of a Butterfly

Butterfly Life Cycle Game example:

Monarch Butterfly Population Drops by Nearly One-third (

Teach lessons that are tied to your existing curriculum!


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