From Caterpillar to Butterfly by Deborah HeiligmanFrom Caterpillar to Butterfly
Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science, Stage 1
Illustrated by Bari Weissman
Ages 3 and up

978-0060242640 Hardcover
978-0064451291 Paperback
978-0061119750 Big Book

IndieBoundAmazonBarnes & NoblePowell’s

Where did the caterpillar go?

It seems to have disappeared, but it hasn’t. It has turned into a butterfly! From the time a caterpillar first hatches, it eats so fast that its skin can’t keep up. It sheds its skin several times as it grows bigger and bigger. Eventually it forms a shell around itself called a chrysalis. Nothing seems to happen for a long time. But then one day the chrysalis splits open, and a beautiful butterfly emerges. What a magical metamorphosis!

“…this presentation stands out because of its classroom setting. The process is seen through the children’s eyes as they experience the excitement of observing the wiggly caterpillar, watch it molt, change into a chrysalis, endure the endless waiting, and stare in wonder as a Painted Lady butterfly emerges and dries its wings. An inviting book that young children can relate to and one that teachers will find valuable to support nature-study projects.” —School Library Journal

My friend sent me this article from the Phi Beta Kappa Society’s newsletter, The Key Reporter. A great program for kids called “Joy of Reading” uses From Caterpillar to Butterfly a lot. This article really made me smile for so many reasons.

Featured on the wiki 9 Children’s Books That Actually Make Learning Fun.

*Grow your own butterflies in your classroom or at home. Many stores, catalogues and web sites sell butterfly kits. One is Insect Lore; you can call them at 1-800-LIVE BUG for a kit or go to The Butterfly Site ( has a lot of butterfly information, tips, and products as well.

*Keep a journal. I modelled my book on my son’s preschool class. (He is now old enough to vote, but let’s not go there.) At that school, Wrightstown Friends Nursery School, every year they grow Painted Lady butterflies and every year they keep a journal. At the end, even though they can’t keep the butterfly, the children have a permanent record, including drawings, of their experience. Depending on the age of the child, the journal can be a group project, and then copies made for everyone to take home. For example, each child can do a page and a picture. This works best for preschool through first grade. Older children can keep their own journals.

You can model the journal after the book. “Today, on ________ caterpillars came to school. There are ______ of them. They are eating _________. They are as big as ______________.” Have children make entries every couple of days or whenever a change occurs. On weekends, someone should “babysit” the butterflies, especially if they are close to hatching. At Wrightstown, that job fell to a teacher.

*Create your own butterfly garden. Butterflies are attracted to certain plants. Painted Ladies like thistle, burdock, zinnia, butterfly bush, and mint. Monarchs like milkweed. When you make your garden, be sure to include flat stones where butterflies can perch and warm their wings. There is a lot of information on the web and also in books about how to make butterfly gardens. Go to your state or county’s agricultural or cooperative extension web site or call them; they will have information for you for your area. I don’t think you will have trouble, but if you can’t find what you’re looking for, email me, tell me where you live, and I’ll try to help.

*Make a butterfly poster. Research different butterflies that live in your area. Make a poster showing: what each butterfly looks, what its caterpillar looks like, what plant it lays its eggs on and eats. Add any other facts you want! (See the last two pages in the book for a possible model).

*Learn about other animals that go through a metamorphosis. Here are some suggestions: frog, fly, ant, wasp, bee, salamander and eel. Compare and contrast the different life cycles of these creatures. Do your research in encylopedias, in books, and on the internet. Talk to some experts. And because she is my friend and because it’s a great book, read FROM TADPOLE TO FROG by Wendy Pfeffer!

Here are some butterfly links: for more information on making butterfly gardens and for more information about butterflies. Some of them also have stores so you can buy butterfly kits, etc.
Butterfly House
The Butterfly Site
Insect Lore