Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8, K-3

In the BrainPOP ELL movie, Butterfly Life Cycle (L2U6L2), Ben and Moby present their research project on the life cycle of the butterfly to their class, describing what happened at each stage using the past simple and past progressive. In this lesson plan, adaptable for grades K-8, students demonstrate their understanding of the butterfly life cycle, and apply the concept to the big ideas about cycles and life cycles.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Define and give examples of the word cycle.
  2. Differentiate between cycles and life cycles.
  3. Illustrate and explain an example of a life cycle.
  4. Write captions for the events in the movie.
  5. Ask and answer questions about specific information in the movie.


butterfly, caterpillar, chrysalis, life, cycle, life cycle


For Activity 2, What is a Life Cycle?, make copies of the Butterfly Life Cycle Images and the blank Flow Chart Graphic Organizer.

For Activity 3, Caption It!, make copies of the Butterfly Life Cycle Comic Strip.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. What is a Cycle? In the Vocabulary section of the movie, pause at the word cycle and elicit a definition. For example: when the same events or actions repeat, or happen again and again in the same order. Challenge the class to think of different types of cycles. They will probably suggest examples of both cycles and life cycles. Then, in a modified Concept Attainment activity, write their suggestions in two lists on the board (cycles and life cycles), but do not label the lists. Some examples of cycles include: washing machine, dishwasher, seasons, sleep, the moon, farming, the school day. Examples of life cycles include: butterflies, frogs, spiders, chickens, plants, trees, flowers, human beings. After you have listed a few examples, ask the students which column the examples go in. Elicit the difference between the two lists.
  2. What is a Life Cycle? The next entry in the Vocabulary section is life cycle, a kind of cycle. Using the Butterfly Life Cycle Images, ask volunteers to explain the two life cycle illustrations (butterfly life cycle and human being life cycle). For homework, have students choose another life cycle to illustrate and label. They may use any cycle graphic organizer, such as the Flow Chart Graphic Organizer. They must also think of a good big idea for life cycle and write it on the top of the paper. Have students share their life cycles the next day, and compare their big ideas. You may want to make a Life Cycle display in the room.
  3. Caption It! After watching the movie Butterfly Life Cycle (L2U6L2), distribute the Butterfly Life Cycle Comic Strip. Instruct students to write captions for each frame using the past simple and past progressive. Depending on students’ levels, some may just label with a verb or phrase, while others write complete sentences. If needed, provide a word bank with suggested prompts, such as base verbs and phrases.
  4. Movie Questions. To practice using the past simple and past progessive, have students ask and answer questions about the movie Butterfly Life Cycle (L2U6L2). To differentiate instruction, give students specific information to look for and questions to answer. For example: What were Ben and Moby doing while the students were coming into class? What was Moby drawing?
    Where did Ben and Moby buy the caterpillars?

    Ask other students to write their own questions about details in the movie.


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