Beautiful Butterflies -- Activity Centers


Author: Unknown

Organization: Texas A&M University

Topic: Butterflies

Grade Level: 6th

Time frame: Not specified

Purpose: Students will observe and describe habitats within ecosystems, describe how organisms modify environment to meet their needs, and observe and identify characteristics that allow survival.


  • A book about the life cycle of a butterfly
  • Bread
  • Food coloring
  • M&M's
  • Candy corn
  • Plastic bowl
  • Blind fold
  • Die cut butterflies
  • Pipe cleaner
  • Hot glue
  • Clothespin
  • Wiggle eyes

Activity 1Book and discussion

Read book about the life cycle of a butterfly. While reading the book the students should be allowed to ask questions about how the butterfly is developing. After the book has been read the students should be questioned about the information in the book. The students will then be taken into the gallery of the museum to look at butterflies that have already been mounted. The students will be encouraged to look at the butterflies body parts and coloring.

Activity 2:Protective coloring

Instructors will complete this part of the activity preparation the previous day.

  1. Peel off and discard the crust of four slices of white bread
  2. Break each bread slice into 20 small pieces
  3. Leave the pieces of one slice white, color the other three slices red, blue, and green
  4. For each color mix together ¼ -cup water and 10 drops of food coloring
  5. Soak pieces of bread in colored water
  6. Spread pieces of bread on a cookie sheet; allow to air dry overnight
  7. Choose an area with short grass where many birds are seen


Let students place each different colored bread pieces in a circle of about 12 inches in diameter, 6 feet apart from each other. Ask students to think about why we have done this, and what they think will occur to the bread over the next 4 hours. The bread will be gathered later in the afternoon. When the bread is gathered the students should discover that more of the red, white, and blue colored bread is gone (the green will be left because it will not be easily seen in the grass).

Extend this into a discussion: "What if the bread were insects or butterflies which would have been eaten by the birds?" "How could this help to extend the life of the insect or butterfly?"

Activity 3M&M Camouflage Game

Before the activity is begun the instructor will mix together in a bowl M&M's and candy corn so that the yellow and orange M&M's are camouflaged. Allow each student to pick out of the bowl the first five M&M's that they see. Instruct the students to NOT eat the M&M's until the activity is concluded. Once students have chosen their candy make a tally of the number of each color. In most circumstances the orange and yellow M&M's will have lower numbers because they blend in with the candy corn. Discuss why some colors were chosen more often than others have students relate this to nature and how this could be helpful to insects

Activity 4Predator Prey Game

Take campers to the wooded area. Blind fold one student who will be the predator. The predator counts to 20 while the other students (or prey) hides. Hiding students must be able to see some part of the predator at all times, once students have found a hiding place they must stay in that place. Predator removes blindfold and looks for prey, predator must stay in the same place and is only allowed to look around. When predator spots the prey he/she points and calls out their name. The prey is then out and must come and sit down next to the predator without talking. After five minutes, if the predator has not found all the prey the blindfold is put back on the predator and the prey has to move 10 steps closer. The blindfold is taken off again if at this time the predator cannot find the prey the game is over. The last prey not found becomes the predator. A new game begins.

At this time, the protective coloring activity should be completed by picking up the remaining bread pieces.

Activity 5Symmetric Painting

Class discussion about symmetry of butterflies. Each student will be given a sheet of paper that has the outline of a butterfly printed on it. The students will be instructed to fold the paper in half (like a hot dog), and then unfold it so that there is a line down the middle. Students will have a variety of paint to choose from and they will be instructed to place several different colors on only one side of the butterfly. After putting paint onto picture, it should be folded in half once again so that the paint will spread to the other side. Now the paper can be unfolded and both wings of the butterfly will look the same. The paper should be laid to dry. Once the picture has dried the students can cut out the butterfly shape and place antennae on the butterfly

Activity 6Butterfly Magnet

Roll four pieces of pipe cleaner each into a flat surface (for example it will look somewhat like this @). Students will receive help hot gluing the four pieces of pipe cleaner onto a clothespin (two pieces on each side to form the wings of the butterfly). The student will then attach two antennae and two wiggle eyes to the clothespin. A magnet should then be placed on the back of the clothespin.

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