Activity Introduction

Quick summary: In this activity students will watch the life cycle of a caterpillar and see it go from crawling to chrysalis to butterfly.

These Snappy Science resources have been created to boost science education in primary schools across Australia. Each lesson is designed to support teachers with the scientific knowledge, ideas and resources to stimulate a sense of wonder and curiosity in their students. Many of the big issues that Australian society will face in the future are around technology, energy, resources and climate change. All of these require students to engage with science – but most of all to enjoy science!

Science at Home: These Snappy Science resources can also be used to engage families in fun science and learning for life. You can download a student friendly version of this activity here and you can also check out the Snappy Science Digital Library.

General capabilities: Critical and creative thinking.

Australian Curriculum content description: This activity is relevant to Science Inquiry Skills across all primary year levels of the Australian Curriculum.

Year 1 Science

  • Living things have a variety of external features (ACSSU017)

Year 2 Science

  • Living things grow, change and have offspring similar to themselves (ACSSU030)

Year 3 Science

  • Living things can be grouped on the basis of observable features and can be distinguished from non-living things (ACSSU044)

Year 4 Science

Syllabus OutcomesST1-10LW.

Time required: 10 – 15 minutes to find caterpillar, 5 minutes a day to observe and feed caterpillar for several weeks.

Resources required: Ice-cream tub with lid, pencil, caterpillar, leaves.

Safety advice: Ensure students are aware of dangerous spiders and check with teachers before handling any bugs. Depending on student age and ability this activity may be either a student-led experiment or a teacher-led demonstration.

Keywords: Caterpillar, chrysalis, butterfly.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

Brief summary:

In this activity students will watch the life cycle of a caterpillar and see it go from crawling to chrysalis to butterfly.

Students can use the Predict, Observe, Explain table on the Student Worksheet to describe and reflect upon this experiment.

You will need:

  • Ice-cream tub with lid
  • Pencil
  • Caterpillar
  • Leaves

What to do:

Step 1. Poke a few holes in the lid of a big plastic ice-cream tub with a pencil.

Step 2. Add some twigs into the tub.

Step 3. Go out on a caterpillar hunt. When you find one, carefully put that leaf and the caterpillar in the box with a few more leaves from that same plant.

Step 4. Put the lid on and leave it somewhere warm (DO NOT leave the box in direct sunlight).

Step 5. While checking on your caterpillar every day, keep adding some fresh leaves from the plant you found the caterpillar on.

Step 6. After a couple of weeks, the caterpillar should make a small, brown, case-like shell. Once this happens, check the tub more regularl

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Student Worksheet

In this activity you will find a caterpillar from the garden and watch it grow into a butterfly.


Explain what you think will happen:


Explain what happened:


Explain why you think this happened:

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