Making real life observations is a wonderful way to learn about butterflies with kids of all ages. This free butterfly observation journal is a great addition to a butterfly unit study!
Each journal page focuses on a specific stage of a butterfly's life cycle. This free butterfly journal includes caterpillar, chrysalis, and adult butterfly observation pages.
You can use this journal as part of a formal unit study or as fun weekend activity to do with your kids!
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Kids of all ages LOVE learning about the life cycle of a butterfly!
This printable my butterfly journal has space for your kids to draw an illustration. Along with room for them to write down observations.
Kids can write short points, full sentences, or a combination of the two!
There is even a cover page with a blank space for them to decorate. Kids always enjoy designing their own cover art.
- What is an Observation Journal
- Age Range
- Adapting for Different Aged Kids
- Science Topics to Explore
- Types of Journaling Pages
- Science Skills to Practice
- Observing Butterflies
- Finding Butterflies in Nature
- Finding Caterpillars
- Using Nature to Learn Science
- Making Meaningful Connections
- Create Learning Experiences with Your Kids
Directions for how to access the printable pack can be found at the bottom of this post.
What is an Observation Journal
An observation journal is designed to guide your children when studying nature.
Prompts are a great way to encourage kids to stop and make detailed observations. I like to think of them as a guide to get them started.
You can fill out the pages in sequence to track how something changes over time.
Or use each page as a separate journaling prompt and at then end you will have a collection of different observations.
- Upper Elementary
You can use these pages with kids as young as preschoolers and as old as upper elementary. You know your kids best and can expand on the ideas presented on these nature prompts.
The best thing about using observations to learn science concepts is it is easy to adapt for kids of different ages.
I tried to keep these butterfly journal pages simple to allow you to modify them to fit your needs.
Adapting for Different Aged Kids
Preschoolers and kindergartners may draw an illustration then together you can discuss what you see.
Elementary aged kids can add some labels to their illustrations. Pair these worksheets with a butterfly book and let our kids make scientific sketches.
They can label the different parts of the caterpillar, chrysalis, and butterfly. It would be fun to do some research to explore the different plants within their habitat!
Science Topics to Explore
- Parts of a Plant
- Structure of a Flower
- Parts of an Insect
- Local Habitats
- Life Cycles
- Needs of Living Things
If you are homeschooling or teaching a group of children science, these butterfly journaling pages make great additions to a unit study.
While your kids are filling out these sheets, they are exploring butterflies and their habitat.
Types of Journaling Pages
- Adult Butterfly
Print off as many of each stage as you need to fit your needs. You can fill them out in order or simply use them as individual nature journaling pages.
Helpful Hint: Staple pages together to make your own life cycle of a butterfly observation journal.
Not sure what to draw or write? I've even included a few prompts to get you started!
You can use these pages when observing one butterfly through its life cycle. Or head outside and find a different butterfly for each of the stages.
Butterfly kits are another fun way to observe the life cycle of a butterfly with your kids!
Science Skills to Practice
- Making Observations
- Scientific Sketches
- Comparing and Contrasting
- Data Collection
Your kids will enjoy making real life observations. First hand accounts and hands-on activities are what help your kids build connections to what they are learning.
Exploring science is all about practicing important skills, not just memorizing facts.
Plus, hands-on explorations are just plain fun for kids!
- Plain Printer Paper or Cardstock
- Art Supplies including Colored Pencils or Crayons
- Magnifying Lens
- Butterfly Net
- Butterfly Kit
For a sturdier journal, I recommend printing off the cover page onto cardstock. Then using plain printer paper for the rest of the pages. You can then use a stapler or hole punch to turn the individual pages into a butterfly book.
While making observations tools including magnifying lenses, rulers, and even a butterfly net are beneficial for kids to use.
Always use care when observing butterflies, caterpillars, and chrysalis.
Even young kids can observe caterpillars on a leaf using a hand held magnifying lens. Then they can measure the length of the caterpillar or hole in the leaf using a ruler.
If you live in an area that has access to a butterfly habitat, you can head outside for this activity. This includes a garden or small patch of milkweed.
Live butterfly kits are another popular choice and can be ordered online. Painted Lady caterpillars can be shipped directly to you in the mail.
In both cases, your kids can observe caterpillars for several days before they form a chrysalis.
Your kids can then record observations several times during that stage. Then finally, as the butterfly emerges, they can make a few more observations.
At the end they will have their own butterfly nature journal that covers the three different stages!
Plus the joy of seeing the entire lifecycle of these amazing insects!
Hands-on exploration is one of the best ways for kids to make connects to what they are learning.
Finding Butterflies in Nature
- Meadow or Wildflower Habitats
- Flower or Vegetable Gardens
- Milkweed Patches
- Woodland Edges with Flowering Plants
The key to finding butterflies in nature is flowering plants. Adult butterflies rely on flowers for nectar. Along with specific species of plants to lay their eggs.
I leave milkweed growing in my garden to create a habitat for Monarch Butterflies. This allows me to head outside every day to observe caterpillars.
If heading outside you may not spot the exact same one each day, but the chances are really high because an adult Monarch lays only one egg on each milkweed plant.
Pollinator gardens including flower gardens and even vegetable gardens are great places to search for butterflies.
All it takes is a few flowering plants. Zinnias are an easy to grow annual that butterflies love visiting!
You can even grow them in small places including pots on a balcony. Just make sure the plants receive at least 6 hours of full sun each day.
Similar to where you will find butterflies in nature, you can find caterpillars. Foliage with holes or large pieces missing from them are good places to look.
A caterpillar's job is to eat and grow larger. This means you are likely to find them munching on leaves in and around the garden. You can even look at clumps of freshly fallen leaves in the spring for caterpillars.
Using Nature to Learn Science
Heading outside into nature is one of the easiest ways to "do science" with your kids. Not only is nature free, but exploring the natural world gives kids and adults a greater appreciation for the world around us.
Make sure to check out the how to start nature journaling with your kids post for more ideas and guidance to get you started.
Getting outside even for ten minutes a day has so many benefits for both kids and adults.
Making Meaningful Connections
As a young child, we raised a butterfly in a jar at home and patently watched it every day. Then, in first grade, we raised butterflies in our classroom using a butterfly net hung from the ceiling.
I can still remember the excitement surrounding those experiences. And if you ask my mom, she will still say how disappointing it was for her to miss the hatching of the butterfly that we raised in that jar!
Create Learning Experiences with Your Kids
If you are looking to create magical memories like these with your young kids, these butterfly observation journal pages are wonderful resources!
Don't forget to get access to the pdf version of the My Butterfly Journal at the end of this post.
These printables were created by Nature Inspired Learning and are for personal use only for your home, classroom, or public library. This free my butterfly observation journal is for non-commercial use. See full disclosure.
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For more butterfly activities make sure to check out our full collection of Free Butterfly Lesson Plans!
Precious! Love this for using with our pollinator friendly garden!
This is so fun! My little one loves all things nature and being outside. She’s still a little young for homeschool but I certainly learned from this and we will talk about what I learned when we go outside this evening. Thanks for sharing this!
Lisa Harlow says
You make such awesome printables! I have used them for our 4-H Cloverbud little kids and they love them!
Thank you! That makes me so happy to hear that your 4-H group loves using them!
We can totally use this! We just had our last swallowtail caterpillar go into its chrysalis. Great timing, thanks!
Yayy! How awesome, your very welcome