Caterpillars and butterflies are amazing. For preschool students, they’re perfect for teaching about so many science topics from metamorphosis to camouflage. Thankfully, they’re also intriguing, colorful and easy to raise in a classroom. And of course, there are dozens of butterfly books! Try one of these favorite butterfly books in your preschool classroom.
Butterfly Books for Preschoolers
1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
With its simple story and beautiful artwork, this classic tale is an educational goldmine! Want to work on days of the week? Counting? Eating healthy foods? Life cycles? All of these topics are covered in the charming tale of a little caterpillar that searches for the right food to cure his munchies and help him grow!
Extending the learning: Retelling this sequential story is easy! Felt board pieces are easy to make so the children can retell the story. Get creative with your dramatic play food and have a “caterpillar cafe.” During your calendar time, see if the students can remember what the caterpillar ate on the days of the week.
2. Ten Little Caterpillars by Bill Martin Jr.
This beautifully illustrated book tells a story about ten little caterpillars, who, one by one, go off on their own adventures. If you think it resembles Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, you’re right – the same illustrator, Lois Elhert, uses her mastery of bright colors and bold shapes to entrance children and adults alike. This book is truly amazing in that it has unobtrusive labels on all of the different species of caterpillar and plants represented, as well as a helpful picture glossary at the end.
Extending the learning: A sensory bin full of leaves with ten hidden toy caterpillars (either store bought or made from pipe cleaners) can be a great way to extend the counting skills in this book. For extra fine motor practice include oversized tweezers or tongs to pick up the caterpillars. A caterpillar/butterfly matching game using artwork from the book is another amazing way to bring the book to life.
3. Waiting for Wings by Lois Elhert
A great partner book to “Ten Little Caterpillars,” Lois Elhert has her own book about butterflies and caterpillars. In her book, she explores where butterflies come from, what they eat, and more. She uses simple rhyming text as she follows the life cycle of four different types of butterfly.
Extending the learning: Follow the handy guide in the back of the book for planting a butterfly garden for the children to explore!
4. The Crunching Munching Caterpillar by Sheridan Cain and Jack Tickle
In this story, Caterpillar really wants to fly. All his friends, Sparrow and Bumblebee and Butterfly all fly, but he’s too heavy and has no wings. Butterfly encourages him to go for his dreams…after his nap.
Extending the learning: This story is a great one to act out with your class as a re-tell!
5. From Caterpillar to Butterfly by Debra Hilligman
This book is engaging with its child-friendly tone of voice. However, it still introduces words like metamorphosis and chrysalis, so extend those vocabularies! It is especially nice as the star of this book is a Painted Lady butterfly – often the kind found in the mail order kits that can be easily purchased for a classroom! In the back of the book is another beautifully illustrated glossary of the different types of butterflies and caterpillars that students might find in their backyard.
Extending the learning: Hatching your own caterpillars and watching them grow is the natural next step for this book! The illustrations are very good at matching what students will see.
6. Clara Caterpillar by Pamela Duncan Edwards
This book has so many amazing qualities. It focuses on alliteration with the letter C, discusses how camouflage can help some creatures escape being eaten, and even touches on how everyone has special traits, even if they aren’t immediately apparent.
Extending the Learning: Take a nature walk with students and see if they can spot any camouflaged creatures. Older students can help identify the letter C when it appears in the book.
7. Monarch Butterfly by Gail Gibbons
This is definitely a book only for older preschoolers. It is definitely longer, but chock full of scientific information, right down to monarch butterfly migration. It’s great for expanding knowledge and looking up facts.
Need more Butterfly ideas?
Print 10 days of detailed Circle Time lesson plans as well as a variety of math and literacy centers in this Insects Circle Time Unit.