Metamorphosis Science: Spring STEM ideas

Spring time brings huge opportunities to study metamorphosis!

One of my favorite spring science activities is to learn about metamorphosis science, whether that for butterflies or frogs, or maybe another type of backyard animal!

Spring is also the time when we all begin to come out of our winter holes, stretch out, take the time to smell the flowers, and enjoy the sun once again.

With all of the abundant activity, spring is a great time to dive into life and natural sciences.

A caterpillar on a finger. Caterpillars go through metamorphosis to become butterflies. A great kids science activity

Learn about metamorphosis with fun experiments

There is no better way to learn about science than by doing science. The great thing about these metamorphosis projects is that they are hands on projects that last a long time and can lead to a ton of dinner table conversations.

More dinner table conversations means more openings to drop interesting tidbits about nature and what you are seeing.

This year, we’re raising tadpoles into frogs and caterpillars into butterflies, but we have a whole list of cool projects outlined below for you to choose the right one for your family!

6 projects for inspired spring science at home

  1. Grow a butterfly (purchase a kit)
  2. Grow a frog (purchase a kit)
  3. Grow ladybugs (purchase a kit)
  4. Grow a bettle (purchase a kit)
  5. Grow praying mantisis (purchase a kit)
  6. Research one of the 85% of insects that go through metamorphosis and try to grow one at home!

What is Metamorphosis?

Metamorphosis is the transformation of an animal from an egg to an adult. During this process, however, the animal has massive changes to their body.

The most accessible example is in Eric Carle’s book The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  Caterpillars, or larvae, and butterflies are all around us in the spring and summer and one of the most brazen shows of metamorphosis.

Here the animal, a caterpillar, goes through such extensive changes to their body that they go from inching along to flying high!

There are two types seen in animals, complete and incomplete. In complete metamorphosis, an animal hatches from an egg, goes through a larvae phase enters a pupa (think chrysalis or cocoon), and then emerges as an adult. In incomplete metamorphosis, an egg hatches into a nymph, which often has a striking similarity to the final adult version.

A great example is the praying mantis, where the nymphs look very similar to the adults.

5 Cool facts about metamorphosis.

Ideas for differentiated learning

Learning about metamorphosis through watching and caring for these animals is a great opportunity for differentiated learning.

For younger kids, you can read Eric Carle’s book The Very Hungry Caterpillar, collage a life cycle wheel from images in the book, and then track where in the process your butterflies are.

Older kids can create a nature journal and draw what their specimen looks like each day, or they can measure the weight, length, etc each day to create a chart.

Kids can research if the larvae eat the same types of food the adults eat. You can create a photo flipbook to watch the critter grow over time. 

You can also have dinner table conversations around the process of metamorphosis, animal care, the impact of various animals and insects in our backyard ecosystem, why some animals might have evolved to go through this process while others, like us, did not. 

If you have some time, you can go check out our Animal Tracking Molds science activity to get some more ideas of what to do with the nature around us!