Level 2: Butterflies + Migration Unit

Get ready to take flight this week with a variety of migratory animals! We’ll dig deep into some map work, learn about science with butterflies, and even make our own butter. Ready to fly? Click here to download your weekly skills tracker.

Note: Occasionally we include project upgrades (for kids ready for more) and modifications (which can be useful for including younger siblings). We’ll mark those with the plus (+) or minus (-) symbols.

What you need:

Books (find at your local library or order below on Amazon):

Supplies (use what you have, but here are links to shop if you need anything):

What to do:

We recommend doing the below lessons in this order to build on each skill your child will develop, but don’t feel that you *need* to do them in this order. Do what works for you and your child. If they love an activity, feel free to repeat! Not a winner? Skip and try the next thing. Have fun!

Phonics Guide:

New to our phonics guide? Start here. The Phonics Guide this week will highlight a phonics rule—changing Y to the /ī/ sound when adding an ending. We can see this in action with words like “butterfly.”

Lesson 1:

We’ll start our week with the book A Butterfly is Patient. If you were with us for Level 1, you might remember this beautifully illustrated book. But you will also likely find your child is even more engaged in many of the details and mini lessons within the book! Take your time as you read so you can dig into whatever catches your child’s interest.

Activity 1: Review the pages in the book about the butterfly metamorphosis and review any new vocabulary such as eggs, caterpillar, chrysalis, pupa, cocoon, and metamorphosis. Next, do this craft project to reinforce the butterfly life cycle. This craft can be done in several steps (not necessarily all at once depending on your child’s level of attention and interest).

Activity 2: If you were with us for our China Unit and still have your silkworm life cycle mat, use this as an opportunity to compare and contrast the butterfly and the moth. Here are some notable differences between the two insects:

  • Moths land with their wings spread and also rest with their wings open. Butterflies land and rest with their wings folded.
  • Moths have short, often feathered antennae, while butterflies have long, thin antennae with a bulb at the end.
  • Moths are generally more active at night, while butterflies spend their days looking for food.
  • Most moths create a cocoon out of silk they spin around themselves. Butterflies form a hard chrysalis, which is made from their molted exoskeleton.
  • Moths are generally shorter than butterflies with thicker, furrier bodies. Butterflies are generally thinner and longer than moths. (source)

Want more? This fun video breaks down how to tell if it’s a butterfly or a moth.

(+) Add some extra writing practice to this activity by creating a Venn diagram of the differences between butterflies and moths. You can use this Venn diagram printable to record the answers.

Activity 3: Using your butterfly kit, set up your butterfly habitat according to the directions. Let your caterpillars into the habitat and wait for the magic!

To help keep your child’s interest as you wait for your caterpillars to make their cocoons and hatch, invite your child to create a nature journal to document the changes for the next couple of weeks. Download and print our template here, printing a few copies of page 2. Your child doesn’t need to make a record every day (unless they want to!), but encourage them to take notes and draw a picture of what they see on the days when the caterpillars begin to form chrysalises, when they hatch, and when they begin to eat, as well as on the day they are released.

Activity 4: What do butterflies eat? Review the pages in our book that talk about this, under the heading “Is a butterfly is thirsty?” If you did the Flowers Unit with us, you learned that butterflies are one insect that helps pollinate. As they use their proboscis, or a “tongue that coils and uncoils,” to slurp up the nectar in many flowers, pollen sticks to their body and is then transferred onto other blooms. For this activity, let’s bring this to life by pretending to be butterflies and pollinating flowers!

Lesson 2:

One of the most amazing feats in the animal world is the migration of the monarch butterfly. Let’s learn more about it in When Butterflies Cross the Sky: The Monarch Butterfly Migration (or listen to this read aloud on YouTube). Use a United States map or a globe to track the butterflies’ migration.

Activity 1: Next, let’s review the anatomy of a butterfly. Print this printable (you may want to laminate parts of it to repeat the lesson). Review the butterfly parts and encourage your child to cut out and label the second photo. You can use the cards for copywork or to practice reading and phonics skills.

Activity 2: Butterflies are a great example of symmetry in nature. Use this printable to have your child practice drawing the mirror image of each wing as they complete their butterflies.

Activity 3: Has your child ever heard of static electricity? We can learn more about it in this video. Next, let’s bring this physics phenomenon to life with this butterfly wing activity.

Lesson 3:

Of course, butterflies aren’t the only animals that migrate. We can learn about a variety of migrating mammals, birds, and more in the book Migration: Incredible Animal Journeys. There are a lot of animal stories in this book, so we encourage you to read it throughout the week, possible as a bedtime story! For our lesson, though, flip through the book to look at the variety of animals that migrate and read whichever animals catch your child’s eye.

Activity 1: Let’s do some map work by mapping the migration patterns of a few migratory animals. You will need a world map. This laminated one is great for reusing, or you can print this world map. Next, click the below links to see the migratory patterns of a few animals. Have your child use colored pencils or markers to draw each animal’s path in a different color. Do any of them intersect?

Activity 2: Migratory animal coloring pages.

Activity 3: Let’s work on some number knowledge with these Butterfly Number Placemats.

Lesson 4:

There are so many types of birds that migrate annually. Today, we’ll read the story of a plucky whimbrel in Numenia and the Hurricane: Inspired by a True Migration Story (or listen to it here). You can also watch this video to see and hear a real whimbrel!

Activity 1: Let’s get some measuring practice while learning more about other migratory birds. Start by printing these migratory bird cards (and laminating them, if possible). On each card, you’ll find the bird’s average wingspan. Ask your child to put them in order from smallest to largest. Next, get a measuring tape and some masking tape. Have your child measure out each wingspan and make a line on the floor with the tape that is the same width. Label each strip by writing the name of the bird on the tape. (Alternately, you could do this outside with sidewalk chalk!) Once each line is made, your child will be able to see if they got the size order correct and make any adjustments necessary to their cards.

Activity 2: Often when birds migrate, we see them flying in a V. But why do they do that? Let’s get a lesson in wind resistance with this hands-on activity.

Activity 3: These beautiful migratory bird cards and printables share more fun facts and could even make for beautiful art in your homeschool space. Use the fact cards for some copywork today.

Lesson 5:

Let’s end our week with a few more butterfly activities!

Activity 1: If you were with us for our Leaves Unit, your child received an introduction to the solfege scale. Let’s review it today, this time using a “migrating” butterfly to guide our notes.

First, remind your child how all music is organized into groups of seven notes, called keys or scales. These notes have names, but for now, we will use the syllables of “do re mi” to identify them. Play this clip from The Sound of Music to help them remember the syllables.

Next, download and print this scale and make this pipe cleaner butterfly ring for your child to wear on their finger as they move up and down the scale. Have the butterfly “land” on each note as your child pronounces the syllable.

(+) If your child is really enjoying this lesson, you could also introduce the Solfege hand signs with this video. As they memorize them, see how fast you can do the scales together!

Activity 2: Let’s use this butterfly guide to help teach your child units of capacity and how cups, pints, quarts, and gallons relate to each other. Print each page of this printable on different colors of cardstock. Cut out the butterfly and the circles and demonstrate how they fit inside each other like this:

Before you show your child how each measurement relates to each other, we recommend showing them the actual amount in liquid so they can have a concrete idea of the measurements and how they are different. Seeing a gallon of milk (or water), 1 quart, 1 pint, and 1 cup next to each other before you demonstrate how they fit into each other will drive the message home. Then you can say, “How many quarts fit into a gallon? How many pints fit into a quart? Here’s a simple way to remember…” and go into the printed activity.

Note: If this is your child’s first exposure to these units of measurements, this concept will take time. Keep this butterfly manipulative to use again any time you are using these measurements in the kitchen or working with these units again.

Need a mnemonic device to remember the order of the measurements? Try “Grow (gallon) Quickly (quart), Pretty (pint) Catterpillar (cup).”

Activity 3: For our recipe this week, let’s make our own butter! First, watch this video to learn the science of how butter is made. Next, make your own in a jar with this easy-peasy recipe.

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Published by The Learn + Live Letter

The Learn + Live Letter is a play- and project-based homeschool curriculum for children ages 3-12.

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