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Butterfly Characteristics

Butterflies come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Understanding their characteristics can tell us even more about these creatures and the environments they live in. By observing different species of butterflies we can draw conclusions about what they need to survive and how their characteristics support their way of life. 

Sioux Center, Iowa

Driving Question

  • How do butterfly characteristics help them survive in their environment?

Probing Questions

  • Why do butterflies have to adapt to new habitats?
  • Do you think that butterflies from two different habitats would survive well if they switched? Why or why not? 

Classroom Suggestions

Students could:

  • Keep a butterfly journal and explore a butterfly-abundant environment. They can write their observations and hypotheses on each species they come across. They can also note their surrounding plant life, temperature, time of year, and other observations. 
  • Create a Compare and Contrast chart to help them keep track of similarities and differences between the creatures they observe. 
  • Design their own butterfly and explain why they gave their creature certain characteristics. They can even make a pamphlet or poster to help display their creation.

Relevant Related Resources

  • Teaching About Butterflies | Primary Playground: This site has fun and hands-on activities targeted for younger students. These simple projects can push students to be creative and learn about butterflies. 
  • Monarch Butterflies | National Wildlife Federation: This website goes through the main topics about the monarch butterfly. It mentions classification, description, range, diet, life history, conservation and a fun fact. 
  • American Lady Facts | Nature Mapping Program: This small article provides basic information about the American lady. It lists facts about butterflies that clarify some questions that students may have as well as address small details about this specific butterfly.
  • American Lady Butterfly Spots | Cambridge Day: This website addresses the lingering question of what the purpose is for the white spots on the American lady. It mentions a few theories and research that goes behind the overall conclusion. It continues to talk about more facts about how the American lady came to be.

Iowa Core Alignment


Construct an argument with evidence that in a particular habitat some organisms can survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all

Credit Info

Phenomena submitted by Shayla Van Dyken and Aja Bell.

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