I can be a butterfly - Caterpillars shed their exoskeleton

A caterpillar, also called a larva, undergoes growth stages before it can become a chrysalis (pupa). Each of these mostly five stages is called an instar, and at the end of each stage the caterpillar needs to molt. That means it sheds its 'skin' (or better its exoskeleton) and emerges with a new one. 

 

This activity for kindergarten to early primary school age is a fun way to experience what happens when larvae (caterpillars) have completed a growth stage. It's also a great opportunity to learn about what defines an invertebrate, a living being without a backbone but with an exoskeleton, in the case of the caterpillar a strong skin that gives the body structure. 

 

Wrap your budding 'butterflies' in kitchen or toilet paper (sticky tape helps to keep it all together), or let them wrap their friends. Once done, they'll love splitting their exoskeleton to emerge as a new instar. Of course, the paper will be collected  and reused for other activities and purposes. 

 

Image: JG-Jutta Godwin